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Treating a lip infection usually involves keeping the affected area clean and possibly applying an over-the-counter (OTC) antibiotic. These are just initial steps you can take at home, however — you may do well to see a doctor for further help if the infection lasts for more than a couple of days or fails to show improvement with at-home treatments. A doctor can determine whether your health will be better served by an oral or intravenous (IV) antibiotic or even by an antifungal medication. Once you are on the right course of treatment, you may then only need patience for dealing with the healing process.
When you have a lip infection, one of the most important things to do is keep it clean. If you have an infected cut, scrape, or sore on your lip, you will typically do well to keep food and other debris out of it. You might also prevent further problems by avoiding touching your lip frequently. Keeping it clean also may help prevent you from feeling unnecessary pain and introducing additional germs that could worsen the infection.
Antibiotics can also prove helpful when you are trying to treat a lip infection. For starters, you can apply an antibiotic cream that you buy over the counter to the affected area, being careful not to get the medication inside your mouth. Such creams are usually referred to as topical medications, since oral antibiotics aren't usually available without a doctor's prescription. You may also do well to seek a doctor's advice to ensure that the steps you have taken are sufficient for the type of infection you have contracted.
If you visit a doctor for treatment of a lip infection, he will likely examine the area to determine the cause of the infection. Depending on the seriousness of the infection, a doctor might prescribe an effective antibiotic for treating it or he may tell you to continue with the OTC treatment. If he does prescribe medication, it may take the form of oral antibiotics or antifungals, though a doctor sometimes will recommend prescription-strength topical treatments instead. Oral medications are often more potent and effective because they work from the inside of the body outward to fight the infection.
Sometimes IV antibiotics are needed for treating a lip infection. This is often the case when an infection starts in the lip but spreads through the bloodstream and affects other parts of the body. If you need IV antibiotics, your doctor may recommend hospitalization for the duration of the treatment.
@bythewell - Actually, I would guess most lip infections are due to people not taking proper care of cracked lips, and so they would know exactly where the infection came from.
I had a friend who I went traveling with in a very dry country and his lips did not do well there. I think it was because he broke his nose when he was younger and can't really breath through it comfortably, so he was constantly breathing through his mouth and it dried his lips right out in that desert air.
It was very difficult to keep his lips healthy. I think the only thing that kept them from getting really infected is that he was already on antibiotics as an antimalarial medication.
Some people are prone to cracked lips even when they aren't traveling, and they probably get lip infections all the time. It would just be very difficult to prevent them, I think.
@Iluviaporos - It really depends on what kind of infection it is. I think sometimes people get something like a cold sore, maybe for the first time, and don't realize what it is. In fact, getting a cold sore for the first time often feels like an infection, because it can come with a light fever and flu symptoms as well.
If you try putting an ointment on your infected lip, and there's no obvious reason for it to be infected, you should go to a doctor with it, and fairly soon. You want them to be able to identify it and if it is a cold sore, it might only stick around for a couple of days and then vanish. You don't want to have to show up at the doctor and just describe it, you want them to be able to really take a look at it.
If you've got a lip infection, the best kind of cream you can put on it is the kind that is used for nursing mothers to put on cracked nipples.
That stuff is almost always chock full of vitamins and soothing ingredients as cracked nipples can take forever to heal (just like an infected lip can).
Plus, they are usually formulated so that they aren't going to hurt you if you accidentally ingest some of it.
They have to make sure the baby is going to be safe if he or she manages to get some of the cream into their mouths, so it's usually completely safe in that regard.
I've had really good results with Bepanthen, which was recommended
to me for the first time when I got a tattoo.
I usually use it on cat scratches as well, as it stops those from getting infected. It's expensive, but I think it's one of the best ointments you can use for a small infection.