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Notable Notes
November 2013

Lips as Red as Blood: Areca Nut Lip Staining

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Dermatology, Scott and White, Temple, Texas
  • 2Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland
  • 3Department of Dermatology, Tufts Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Dermatol. 2013;149(11):1288. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.7965

Areca nut is the seed of the areca palm, which grows in the tropical Pacific, Asia, and parts of Africa. Areca nut is also colloquially known as betel nut because it is wrapped in betel leaves and chewed for its psychostimulatory effects, causing a warming sensation in the body and a slightly heightened alertness.1 When chewed, the areca nut’s tannins also stain the gingiva, mucosa, and lips an intense blood red or deep brown color.1 Its deep, long-lasting staining capability has led to development of a natural lipstick derived from the areca nut. Extract from areca nut is now used widely in cosmetics and marketed as having anti-aging and antiwrinkle properties.