What Causes Lip Discoloration?

Lip discoloration is the changing of one's natural lip color to that of a darker shade. The color of the lip will turn primarily dark purple or blue. Though it is not a life threatening disorder, it can be an indication of health problems. It can also be an indication that a lifestyle change is needed. Though both males and females can get lip discoloration, it is more common in women. People with lip discoloration should consult with a health care specialist if the discoloration begins to spread to the face.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal changes are one of the primary causes for lip discoloration in women. Hormones released during pregnancy or while receiving hormone therapy can cause melasma or dark patches to form on the facial region including the upper lip. When there are higher levels of estrogen hormone in the body, it can cause skin discoloration on the upper lip. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, individuals with darker skin pigments are more susceptible to this form of lip discoloration. Over time the original color may return to the upper lip with little to no medication.

Sun Exposure

The sun’s rays are able to cause skin discoloration including a darkening of skin on the upper and lower lip. Lip discoloration may appear darker and more noticeable during the summer heat and may lighten up over time. According to UCLA Health Systems, sun exposure is a trigger for dark spots on the upper lip and facial area 1. It is most common in women who have darker skin tones and remains persistent in warm weather climates. It’s best to wear sunscreens because sunscreen may help protect the skin from harmful solar rays and may also help prevent lip discoloration.

Birth Control

Women who take oral birth control contraceptives place themselves at a higher risk for lip discoloration. Birth control helps prevent pregnancy and regulates menstrual periods. According to MedlinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health, hormonal changes from birth control can result in lip discoloration 2. Once oral contraceptives have been discontinued, the normal color of the lips may begin to reemerge within months. Although the natural lip color may be restored, lip discoloration can also reappear during pregnancy.