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Dark and pigmented lips

The upper and lower lips are referred to as the “Labium superius oris” and “Labium inferius oris”, respectively. The juncture where the lips meet the surrounding skin of the mouth area is the vermilion border, and the typically reddish area within the borders is called the vermilion zone. The vermilion border of the upper lip is known as the cupid’s bow. The fleshy protuberance located in the center of the upper lip is a tubercle known by various terms including the procheilon (also spelled prochilon), the “tuberculum labii superioris”, and the “labial tubercle”. The vertical groove extending from the procheilon to the nasal septum is called the philtrum.

The skin of the lip, with three to five cellular layers, is very thin compared to typical face skin, which has up to 16 layers. With light skin color, the lip skin contains fewer melanocytes (cells which produce melanin pigment, which give skin its color). Because of this, the blood vessels appear through the skin of the lips, which leads to their notable red coloring. With darker skin color this effect is less prominent, as in this case the skin of the lips contains more melanin and thus is visually darker. The skin of the lip forms the border between the exterior skin of the face, and the interior mucous membrane of the inside of the mouth.

The lip skin is not hairy and does not have sweat glands. Therefore, it does not have the usual protection layer of sweat and body oils which keep the skin smooth, inhibit pathogens, and regulate warmth. For these reasons, the lips dry out faster and become chapped more easily.The lower lip is formed from the mandibular prominence, a branch of the first pharyngeal arch. The lower lip covers the anterior body of the mandible. It is lowered by the depressor labii inferioris muscle and the orbicularis oris borders it inferiorly.

The upper lip covers the anterior surface of the body of the maxilla. Its upper half is of usual skin color and has a depression at its center, directly under the nasal septum, called the philtrum, which is Latin for lower nose, while its lower half is a markedly different, red-colored skin tone more similar to the color of the inside of the mouth, and the term vermillion refers to the colored portion of either the upper or lower lip.

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