why does my upper lip smell

There are moments we’ve all asked ourselves the question, “why does my upper lip smell?” at some point without knowing the answer.

Luckily for you, this article will be taking you through the possible cause of smelling upper lips and possible remedies.

There are several reasons for a smelling upper lip. The most common one is a result of having a deep mental crease.

A crease is a common place for oils, food residues, saliva, and sweat. This can give way to bacterial growth, which in turn can cause odor.

Why Does My Upper Lip Smell

why upper lip smell

There could be several reasons why your upper lips could smell, ranging from oily skin to possible infection.

Here are some possible answers to the question, “why does my upper lip smell bad?”

Reason #1: Dried Saliva

The drying of saliva on your lips from time to time could be a huge reason for the smell of your upper lips. 

This is because it enables different sorts of bacteria to accumulate.

The accumulation of the said bacteria is what generates the offensive odor on your lips.

Reason #2: Oily Skin

oily skin with acne

Sebum is the oily secretion made or secreted by the sebaceous glands.

Though a lot of people believe that sebum is what is responsible for odor on the skin, they are quite wrong. It is not likely the source of the odor. 

Sebum is usually excreted in hole-like areas like the chin crease, navel, and in our case, the lip crease.

Though the sebum itself does not cause odor, when left for too long, it creates a medium for bacterial growth. 

Note: Sebum itself has no fragrance, but bacterial degradation of the substance can generate an offensive odor.

Reason #3: Accumulated Sweat

It is quite similar to how the sebum works. It is also secreted by a gland called the sweat glands or apocrine glands.

Sweat can be stored or retained in deeply creased parts of your body. 

sweat in face

Places like the armpit and deeply creased upper lips and chin. The sweat contains dodecanoic acid, which is responsible for body odor.

The accumulation of sweat could be why your upper lips smell. 

Note: Not only does sweat produce body odor, but it also gives way to bacterial growth on the skin. 

Reason #4: Bad Breath

There are several causes of bad breath, there is bad dental hygiene, the food one consumes, or an underlying health issue.

Either way, bad breath can reflect on your upper lips which in turn makes it smell. 

Reason #5: Food Eaten

You know how food leaves an aftertaste, it can also leave an after smell like when you take too much garlic and onions or, in some cases, yogurt.

The food you eat can affect how your mouth and lips smell.  


Take parmesan, for instance, originally known to be an Italian cheese, which contains a very high amount of butyric acid.

Guess what else contains butyric acid? Yes, you guessed right, vomit or as some people call it, puke.

That is why after eating parmesan, your upper lip ends up smelling terrible. 

Tip: Fried and oily foods might also contribute to excessive sebum production which as we all know can aid bacterial growth.

Reason #6: Possible Infection

Smelling lips could be a result of either diseased or injured gums or teeth. It might also be a soft tissue infection around the lips.

In such cases, it is best to consult a medical professional.

How To Get Rid Of A Smelly Upper Lip

get rid of smelly upper lip

Now that we have answered the question “Why does your top lip smell?”  and discussed the possible causes, we can talk about possible remedies.

Method #1: Dental Hygiene

It might sound like a stretch but good dental hygiene will reflect well on your lips.

So make sure to thoroughly brush your teeth but not too thoroughly, floss between them, and look for any unusual bleeding.

Make sure to brush your teeth twice daily. 

Tip: If it still stinks after cleaning then visit a dentist or a dermatologist as it could be an infection.

Method #2: Use A Lip Balm

use a lip balm

Though it might sound like a temporary remedy, which, to be honest, is true. It is quite effective.

You can make use of a lip balm or a flavored Chapet, especially the herbal or minty variety. 

Apply a few strokes on your upper lips and occasionally on your nose. This will leave you with a fresh, minty scent. 

Method #3: Skin Purification

It is advised to use a gentle cleanser to wash your face at least twice daily. This would help you get rid of any excess oil, germs, and grime.

It would also help in the prevention of pore clogging. So it is best to wash your face with hot water and a mild cleanser.

Method #4: Watch What You Eat

Avoid eating food that sours your breath.  Foods that contain too much garlic, onions, etcetera.

fruits and vegetables

Foods and vegetables like spinach, lettuce, cucumber, and the like are good for not only your breath but for your skin as well.

Method #5: Face Moisturizer

Even if your skin is extremely oily, it still requires moisturizing. The main function of sebum is to hydrate dry skin.

Your skin will surely manufacture more sebum to hydrate itself if you don’t moisturize it regularly. 

Make sure to use an oil-free moisturizer. By doing this, you can control how much sebum is produced on your skin.

Additionally, your skin will appreciate it.

Skin that is less oily, acne-free, and radiant will be the outcome.

Method #6: Avoid Touching Your Face

Smelling lips or not, it is wrong to touch your face.

Our hands are constantly covered in germs whether we are at home, at work, or outside in general. 

avoid touching your face

When you touch your face with your unwashed hands, bacteria and germs will come in contact with your skin.

This, in turn, can cause not only a smelling upper lip but also skin issues.

Method #7: Make Use Of Salicylic Acid-Containing Products

This acid deep cleanses your skin by penetrating its greasy layers and congested pores. Salicylic acid also aids in lowering sebum production, which also controls odor.

It not only keeps odors at bay, it naturally exfoliates the skin. 

This feature makes it the finest treatment for acne and scars. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can soothe irritated acne.

To keep excessive sebum off your face and clear your pores, use a face cleanser containing salicylic acid.

Method #8: Avoid Perspiration On Your Face

avoid sweat on face

I know it sounds almost impossible, but it is worth a try.

Sweating releases an antimicrobial protein that destroys common bacteria that could potentially cause bacterial growth and acne. 

Perspiration itself does not cause bacterial growth but produces a medium for it to grow.

Maintain your face dry, and consider using an organic moist wipe to keep the surface of your skin clean!

If your skin is sensitive to wet wipes, you can also make use of moist cotton pads.

Method #9: Avoid Washing Your Face Too Much

washing face too much

Yes, you heard me right. I know I said you should wash your face regularly but precision is everything. 

I did say you should wash your face regularly but not too much.

Washing your face too much will increase the rate of secretion of sebum which in turn will not only cause skin irritation, it would also aid bacteria growth.

Read Next: Why Do My Lips Taste Salty When I Lick Them? – Getting Rid Of Salty Lips


All that we’ve been trying to say so far is that the best remedy for a smelling upper lip is hygiene.

The right skincare routine and bedtime hygiene go a long way to remedy not only smelling upper lips but also prevent skin issues such as acne. 

We have gotten to the end of this article and I hope I have been able to answer the question “why does my upper lip smell?” and even given you enough points on how to get rid of it.

I hope this article has been helpful. Thank you very much for your time and patience. Stay safe!

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