This Common Medication Can Turn Your Lips Blue

Blue lips can be a warning sign of hypothermia, oxygen deprivation, or a symptom of certain health conditions, reports Healthline. Yet this discoloration can also be a side effect of certain medications. This includes beta-blockers, which are drugs taken to manage high blood pressure. Similarly, research has shown that blue lips can also be a side effect of amiodarone, a medication prescribed to help prevent heart arrhythmias (via JAMA Dermatology). However, prescription drugs aren't the only medications that can cause our lips to turn blue. Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines can also potentially have this side effect, specifically naproxen.

It's safe to bet that naproxen is probably somewhere in your house as we speak. With the brand name Aleve, this NSAID is an OTC medication commonly used to alleviate pain associated with menstrual cramps or different kinds of arthritis (via Mayo Clinic). The drug can be taken orally in the form of tablets, capsules, liquid gels, and more. Naproxen can have varying side effects that range from mild to rare. More common side effects include headaches, indigestion, or belching, among others. While possible, the development of blue lips is considered a rare side effect.

Blue lips could be a sign of an allergic reaction

In addition to the lips, naproxen can also prompt one's fingernails or skin to take on a bluish tint (via Mayo Clinic). The National Health Service (NHS) cautions that such side effects could be indicative of a severe allergic reaction to the drug and warrant immediate medical attention.

Naproxen may also cause one's lips, skin, or fingernails to turn blue in the event of a negative drug interaction. In a 2006 case report published in Boletín de la Asociación Médica de Puerto Rico, researchers outlined the case of a man in his late 40s who had been diagnosed with depression and developed methemoglobinemia after ingesting a large amount of various different medications, including 20 naproxen pills. Methemoglobinemia, sometimes alternatively referred to as blue baby syndrome, is a potentially fatal condition in which a lack of oxygen in the blood causes one's skin, nails, or lips to turn blue (via Cleveland Clinic). The condition is often seen in association with the use of certain oxidizing medications. With prompt treatment, the patient's skin discoloration completely subsided within 1 hour.

Blue lips from negative drug interactions

Taking naproxen with alcohol may also yield another negative drug interaction in some individuals. In a 2014 case report published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, a woman in her early 40s developed methemoglobinemia after being treated with naproxen for a seasonal cold. 24 hours prior to being admitted to the hospital, the woman had taken four additional medications and consumed the equivalent of a little over 1 cup of 20% alcohol. The woman was successfully treated with the medication methylene blue. Because naproxen can cause oxidative stress and alcohol hinders enzyme activity that helps red blood cells successfully transport oxygen throughout the body, the researchers concluded that the use of naproxen may place alcohol-dependent patients at risk of methemoglobinemia.

Talk to your doctor if you notice the development of blue lips after taking any kind of medication. Should you experience additional symptoms, such as trouble breathing, chest pain, excessive sweating, dizziness, pain or numbness in the extremities, or any other concerning symptoms, seek emergency medical care.