why do my lips swell when I cry

Why do my lips swell when I cry? It’s a common phenomenon for many people, and it turns out that more than only lip swelling can occur.

The person’s face gets drenched. They develop red pupils. And they’re left with mascara smudges.

Indeed, someone who has been crying just can’t hide it, can they?

Experts believe crying causes an intriguing cascade of events in the body. And once the process is set in motion, stopping the avalanche is not easy.

But, you be specifically looking for, “why do my lips get swollen when I cry?”

Your lips swell because crying exerts pressure on the front and rear of the head, leading to vasodilation and swelling of your nose, lips, and face.

Tip: Walk away from a tricky situation because too much anger, frustration, or upset might produce tears and cause lip swelling.

How can Crying Lead to All Sorts of Facial Changes?

how crying leads to facial changes

Tears flow in reaction to a wide range of feelings, from profound sadness to exhilaration.

Crying has been a therapeutic release valve for stress and emotional anguish since ancient times.

The entire face is affected by crying. Puffiness, swelling, and redness can occur around the eyes, face, and nose because of the increased blood flow after crying.

It can Cause Skin Irritation

We experience this little discomfort because tears have a higher pH than our skin.

But the pH is still higher despite being isotonic and quite similar to the usual saline used in IV treatments.

Therefore, whereas brief contact with tears poses no health risks, prolonged contact may result in mild discomfort due to the pH differential.

It can affect the Eyes

can affect the eyes

Using various tissues and repeatedly rubbing your eyes has been linked to skin inflammation, skin darkening, and even acne irritation.

What’s more, excessive crying may also lead to a condition called dry eye syndrome. It’s when your eyes no longer produce enough tears to coat your eyes.

In short, after a good cry, your face looks puffy because the non-salty liquid reabsorbs into the skin’s high-salt cells via osmosis.

This, in turn, leads to swelling and inflammation in the glands and tissues.

Tip:  Have a stress ball, paper to doodle on, or visual aids to focus on to stop crying and reduce lip swelling.

What Makes Lips Go Bigger When Crying?

what makes lip go bigger

As mentioned already, facial puffiness is a frequent physiological reaction to sobbing.

So, why do my lips get bigger when I cry?

When we start to express our feelings, our bodies respond by altering numerous aspects of who we are.

This includes the appearance of our lips, which may become slightly puffier.

There may be three basic explanations for this swelling.

  • It’s Due to Increased Blood Flow
  • It’s Due to Hormonal Changes
  • It’s Due to Allergic Reactions

It’s Due to Increased Blood Flow

Your entire body gets in a fight-or-flight response when you cry. It directly increases your blood pressure to some extent.

At the same time, it directs more blood to your mouth and face.

So the more pressure you exert while crying, the higher the chances of you having swollen lips and a puffy face in general.

It’s Due to Hormonal Changes

due to hormonal changes

When you feel anxious or down, your body releases hormones that can make your lips look puffy.

It means the swelling may not be due to crying itself but because of a response to what makes you cry in the first place.

Crying stimulates the release of the feel-good hormone oxytocin, which aids in our ability to deal with stressful situations.

Oxytocin decreases amygdala activity, promoting serenity and well-being in the face of social stress. But it may also have a role to play in facial swelling.

It’s Due to Allergic Reactions

When your body is allergic to something, it manifests in different ways.

Interestingly, some people discover they’re allergic to their own tears. If that’s the case, it can result in swelling of the lips as well as the rest of the face.

Tip: Take a deep breath and concentrate on exhaling slowly and gently to regain composure to reduce swelling.

What Else Might Happen When Crying Other than Lip Swelling?

what else might happen when crying

The physical effects of sobbing are rather obvious:

  • You end up with swollen eyes
  • You develop splotchy skin
  • You get a headache

All this happens due to the intense contractions of your facial muscles when you cry and the pressure in your sinuses from the accompanying runny nose.

Role of the Autonomic Nervous System

When activated, the autonomic nervous system speeds up the body’s fight-or-flight reaction by stimulating the sympathetic nervous system.

The fight-or-flight response is activated in reaction to danger.

It works to prevent you from doing things like eating and drinking so that you can focus on getting ready to flee.

It’s your body’s way of keeping you from inhaling nasal secretions or tears. Therefore, it causes the glottis (the opening between the vocal cords) to swell up and make your throat feel full and tight.

Your body's natural response to danger, the fight-or-flight response, may also trigger additional symptoms more commonly linked with extreme fear.

Possible symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, palpitations, and a hoarse or shaky voice.

What Other than Crying Might Lead to Swollen Lips?

other than crying might lead to swollen lips

Crying can undoubtedly work in a mysterious way and cause various physical changes, but other issues can also lead to swollen lips.

It Could be Due to an Allergic Reaction

The lips can swell due to several different allergies, including contact dermatitis, food allergies, and insect bites and stings.

Anaphylaxis is a severe form of an allergic reaction, and it has the potential to be fatal.

If your swelling is due to allergies, you should see an improvement within a few hours of taking antihistamines.

Removing the allergen that caused the reaction from your environment may also help.

It could be Due to an Autoimmune Disorder

In certain instances, swollen lips may be a symptom of a more serious ailment, such as an infection or an autoimmune disorder.

You have to check other symptoms along with facial swelling to know it’s something more serious.

If you have symptoms like a high temperature, trouble breathing, or chronic pain, talk to a medical professional to rule out more severe conditions.

Why Do My Lips Swell When I Cry and What to Do About It?

what to do about swollen lips

You can try a few things if you notice your lips swell up a little when you cry, which may help alleviate any discomfort you may be experiencing.

Hydrate Properly

It’s helpful if swelling is due to allergies. If you have a response to something, drinking lots of water can help flush it out of your system.

Try a Cold Compress

A cold compress applied to the affected area might help alleviate swelling and inflammation.

It works by constricting the blood vessels in the area and fixing vasodilation caused by intense pressure.

No Lip Products

If you have an allergy to your own tears, you should probably avoid putting anything on your lips, including lip glosses, balms, and the like.

Try a Natural Remedy

The swelling can also be reduced by placing cucumber slices on the lips or pressing a cold metal spoon against your lips.

Above all, you should try to hold back the tears a bit. If you give your body a pause in between bouts of sobbing, it will be able to repair any damage done.

Should Your Swollen Lips Keep You from Crying?

swollen lips keep you from crying

While your swollen lips may make you look bad while crying, it should not stop you from venting your emotions.

Crying’s mood-boosting, and calming benefits have been well-known for quite some time.

In fact, cryotherapy has been shown to boost mood through cognitive, physiological, and behavioral factors.

  • It activates the parasympathetic nervous system for recovery
  • It helps detoxify the blood by eliminating cortisol and toxins
  • It increases the release of opioids to improve pain tolerance
  • It triggers nerve-growth factors to promote the growth of neurons
  • It helps improve the cerebral blood supply.

Considering all these benefits, you should certainly not hold yourself back from crying and letting your pent-up energies flow out of your system.

Tip: Make a conscious effort to loosen up your facial muscles and reduce lip swelling quickly.


Why do my lips swell when I cry? It’s because of the pressure crying creates. Is it bad for you? Of course, not – at least, not in most cases. 

Crying actually has many physiological benefits, so don’t stop yourself even if it makes you deal with swollen lips for a short time.

Just avoid prolonged bouts of crying to avoid its adverse effects.

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