Granulomatous Cheilitis

Granulomatous cheilitis, also known as cheilitis granulomatosa or Miescher’s cheilitis, is a rare chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the lips. It is characterized by the formation of painless, non-tender, and non-ulcerating swellings on the lips that can lead to deformity and functional impairment. The exact cause of granulomatous cheilitis is unknown, but it is believed to be an autoimmune disorder that involves a dysfunctional immune response to an unknown trigger.


The exact cause of granulomatous cheilitis is unknown, but several factors have been identified that are believed to contribute to the development of the condition. Here are some of the main causes of granulomatous cheilitis:

  1. Autoimmune disorders: Granulomatous cheilitis is believed to be associated with various autoimmune disorders such as Crohn’s disease, sarcoidosis, and lupus. These conditions cause the immune system to attack healthy tissues, including the lips, resulting in inflammation.
  2. Allergies: Allergic reactions to various substances, such as cosmetics, food, and dental products, have been reported to cause granulomatous cheilitis. This is known as contact cheilitis, and it occurs when an allergen comes into contact with the lips, causing an immune response.
  3. Infections: Some bacterial, viral, and fungal infections can cause granulomatous cheilitis. These infections can trigger an immune response that leads to inflammation of the lips.
  4. Genetic predisposition: Some studies suggest that genetic factors may play a role in the development of granulomatous cheilitis. Certain genetic mutations may increase the risk of developing the condition.
  5. Trauma: Trauma to the lips, such as biting or repetitive licking, can cause irritation and inflammation, which can lead to granulomatous cheilitis.

Overall, the exact cause of granulomatous cheilitis is not well understood. It is believed to be a multifactorial condition that results from a combination of genetic, immunologic, and environmental factors. If you suspect that you have granulomatous cheilitis, it is important to see a dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.


The main symptoms of granulomatous cheilitis include:

  1. Swelling: The lips and the face become swollen, leading to a puffy and distorted appearance.
  2. Cracking or fissuring: The lips may develop deep cracks or fissures, which can be painful and bleed.
  3. Facial paralysis: In some cases, patients may experience temporary or permanent facial paralysis or weakness.
  4. Loss of sensation: Patients may experience numbness or tingling in the affected area.
  5. Dryness: The lips may become dry and scaly, making it difficult to open or close the mouth.
  6. Speech difficulties: The swelling and facial paralysis can make it difficult for patients to speak clearly or enunciate properly.
  7. Difficulty eating: Patients may have trouble chewing or swallowing food due to the swelling and pain.

The symptoms of granulomatous cheilitis can vary in severity and duration and may worsen with stress or certain foods. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate treatment.


The diagnosis of granulomatous cheilitis can be challenging due to the variability of symptoms, and there is no single definitive test to diagnose it.

The diagnostic process typically involves a thorough physical examination, a detailed medical history, and a range of tests to rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms. The following are some of the tests that may be conducted to diagnose granulomatous cheilitis:

  1. Biopsy: A small piece of affected tissue is removed and examined under a microscope to look for signs of inflammation, granulomas, and other abnormalities.
  2. Blood tests: To check for signs of infection, inflammation, or other underlying medical conditions.
  3. Imaging tests: Such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans to check for signs of nerve damage or inflammation in the affected areas.
  4. Allergy testing: To rule out allergies or food sensitivities as a possible cause of the symptoms.
  5. Skin patch testing: To identify any possible contact allergens that may be contributing to the symptoms.
  6. Oral cavity and dental examination: To check for any oral conditions that may be contributing to the symptoms, such as gum disease, tooth decay, or abscesses.

In some cases, the diagnosis of granulomatous cheilitis may require a combination of these tests and may take several visits to the doctor. Once the condition is diagnosed, treatment may include medications to reduce inflammation, antibiotics to treat infections, and surgery to correct any underlying structural problems or to remove any affected tissue.


The main treatment for granulomatous cheilitis involves the use of medication to control the symptoms and prevent the disease from progressing. The following are some of the commonly used medications for granulomatous cheilitis:

  1. Corticosteroids: Corticosteroids are the most commonly used medications for the treatment of granulomatous cheilitis. These medications are used to reduce inflammation and swelling. Corticosteroids can be taken orally or applied topically to the affected area. Commonly prescribed corticosteroids for granulomatous cheilitis include prednisone and dexamethasone.
  2. Antibiotics: Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections that can occur as a result of granulomatous cheilitis. These medications are also used to prevent secondary infections that may arise due to the weakening of the immune system. Commonly prescribed antibiotics for granulomatous cheilitis include doxycycline and erythromycin.
  3. Immunosuppressants: Immunosuppressants are used to suppress the immune system and prevent it from attacking the body’s tissues. These medications are used to prevent the recurrence of granulomatous cheilitis. Commonly prescribed immunosuppressants for granulomatous cheilitis include azathioprine and methotrexate.
  4. Biologics: Biologics are a type of medication that targets specific molecules in the immune system. These medications are used to reduce inflammation and prevent the recurrence of granulomatous cheilitis. Commonly prescribed biologics for granulomatous cheilitis include infliximab and adalimumab.

In addition to medication, other treatment options for granulomatous cheilitis include surgery, such as lip reduction surgery, and dietary changes, such as avoiding foods that can trigger inflammation. It is important to consult a healthcare professional before starting any treatment for granulomatous cheilitis.