Have you ever found yourself wondering why your upper lips smell? If you have, then you are not alone. People commonly perceive a smell coming from their lips and nose area, and are left feeling confused or put off by the experience. So,

Why Do Upper Lips Smell?

Most of the time, upper lip smells are caused by a combination of sweat and saliva. Both of these substances contain a large number of bacteria that can cause an odd stinky odor when left to dry on the skin under your nose.

Other times, the upper lip smell may be caused by food residue that has stuck to the outer surface of the upper lip.

However, not all disagreeable smells coming from the lip region are actually caused by the lips themselves. Often, these smells originate inside the mouth. So, let’s dive a little deeper into the world of funky smells and hygiene.

Dirty Upper Lips or Bad Breath?

If your upper lip smells bad, it’s probably dirty with dried residual saliva or sweat. Both of these substances are known to smell gross when left to dry on the skin.

The bad smell they leave behind is not caused by the liquids themselves, but rather by the various bacteria that live in them. For example, saliva is ripe with bacteria that help to break down food but produce foul-smelling sulfurous compounds responsible for bad breath.

Dirty Upper Lips smell bad

Some foods also leave behind residue that remains on your upper lip and could be the cause behind that funky smell you are smelling.

Greasy and acidic foods, such as pizza or coffee, are especially prone to do this. So, if you notice a weird smell coming from your upper lip, think about the food you ate recently. This is also highly relevant if you have facial hair around your lips.

Therefore, if you notice a wonky smell and determine that it is coming from your upper lip, it is generally a good idea to wash it with clean water and soap. If the smell was caused by dried saliva, sweat, or food residue, this will be enough almost 100% of the time.

However, in some cases, the bad smell around your lips is actually originating inside your mouth.

In fact, poor oral hygiene is one of the primary causes of bad breath, which is sometimes misinterpreted as a bad smell coming from the lips.

Remember that when food particles get caught between your teeth and under your gums, the bacteria in your saliva immediately begin to break it down, which creates some putrid-smelling gasses that can smell like rotten eggs or even worse.

PRO-Tip: A quick and highly effective method to know if your breath might be involved in that weird smell you noticed on your upper lip, is to run a piece of dental floss between your teeth and then smell it. If you notice a foul or unpleasant smell, then definitely have a bad-breath problem.

Causes Of Bad Breath

Besides a lack of oral hygiene, bad breath is often also caused by the following:

  • Stinky foods such as fish, garlic, onions, etc.
  • Foods that contain lots of sugar (sugar feeds bacteria)
  • Having a keto-centric diet (ketones have a weird smell)
  • Dehydration
  • Certain medications such as antihistamines, antidepressants, diuretics, and sedatives
  • Smoking
  • Acid reflux
  • Vomiting

The good news is that you can easily correct these issues, and most of the time practicing a bit of proper oral hygiene is enough. Therefore, you should always remember to brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, and floss regularly.

Is the smell really coming from your lip?

Remember to brush the inside of your cheeks as well as your tongue, since this is often where most of the oral bacteria can be found.

For more information about proper oral health treatment and how it can fix weird smells, check out the CDC’s guide to Oral Health Basics.

Or, for more information on how to properly wash your face, and other important personal hygiene tips, please see their Personal Hygiene resource page.

If you try all of the above and still have similar issues, go to your doctor to rule out more serious issues including infection or stomach problems. There are some issues that only a professional can diagnose and treat.