Do you have white bumps on lips? Does it mean that you are suffering from canker sores, STDs, oral thrush, HPV, oral cancer or Fordyce spots among other conditions? Get insights on the causes of white bumps on different parts of the lips i.e. lip line, inner lips, and upper or lower lip. You will also learn the various treatment on how to get rid of bumps on lips.
White Bumps on Lips
White bumps that occurs on the lips are also referred to as white blotches, spots, dots or patches. They may be painless or can be characterized with other symptoms such as inflammations, burning sensation or pain. It is not a good idea to ignore such bumps even if they are painless as they can result from serious underlying conditions such as oral cancer.
The size and shape varies depending on the cause, they may be small or large, oval, round or irregularly shaped. They can affect areas around your lips including the lip line, inside the lips and at the corners of your mouth.
There are various causes that can result to such bumps. They may develop due to underlying body condition, poor oral care practices, genetic factors, oral care products and make ups. Some of the common causes of these bumps includes the following:
- Canker sores
Canker sores are white or clear bumps that develops on the lips and other soft tissues of the mouth including inside cheeks, gum and tongue. They are painful lesions and normally starts with tingling or a burning sensation prior to the appearance of the bumps.
There is no clear cause of canker sores although researchers suspects that they are triggered by weak immune system, excessive mental or emotional stress, hormonal imbalances, minor injuries to the soft tissues of the mouth, food sensitivity, deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals and allergic reactions.
- Cold sores
Cold sore or fever blisters are the main cause of white bumps on lips line. They are small fluid-filled sores that common appears on the edge of the lower lip. Prior to appearance of the sores, they normally start with an itchiness or a burning sensation on the affected areas. The areas surrounding the sores are always painful.
Cold sores or fever blisters is a viral infection caused by herpes simplex virus [HSV-1]. It is a highly contagious infection that spreads from one person to the other through direct body contact with open blisters. In rare cases, they can result from HSV- 2, the same virus that causes genital herpes.
- Oral thrush
Oral thrush is also known as oral candidiasis, it is caused by a group of yeast known as candida. It causes white or creamy lesions to appear on your lips and other parts of the mouth including inner cheeks, tongue, tonsils, and gums, back of throat and sometimes on the roof or floor of the mouth.
It is also characterized with other symptoms like soreness and redness, bumpy lesions with a cottage cheese-like appearance, cracking of the mouth corners, loss of taste and slightly bleeding. This condition can affect anyone although it likely occurs in babies and older people due to weak immune system.
However, other conditions and illnesses like dry mouth, wearing dentures, being pregnant, HIV and AIDs infections, diabetes, and anemia and organ transplant can trigger oral thrush outbreak. Consult your doctor when having such illnesses
- oral cancer
Oral cancer includes cancer of the lips, tongue, hard and soft palates, sinuses, cheeks, floor of the mouth and throat. It causes an uncontrolled overgrowth of cells and damage of tissues on the affected areas. Lip cancer is characterized with white swellings, bumps or spots.
The other symptoms of oral cancer includes unexplained numbness of the affected areas, bleeding in the mouth, white bumps on lips, soreness feeling at the back of throat, problems in chewing and swallowing food, hoarseness, persistence sores on the affected area and weight loss.
The risk of developing oral cancer increases due to smoking or using smokeless tobacco, having a family history of cancer, consuming alcohol excessively, excessive exposure to the sun and having human papilloma virus infection.
Chances of having a successful cancer treatment are higher when your condition is discovered early. It is important to visit you doctor when having persistence bumps on lips that doesn’t go away easily. Treatment involves surgery to remove the affected cells, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
- Mucous cyst
Mucus cyst are white or pink fluid filled sacks that appears inside the lips, lower lip is commonly affected by this condition. They can also occur on other parts of your mouth including inside cheeks. They result from lip biting or injuries from lip piercing. Plugging of mucus from salivary glands can also result to this condition.
In most cases, mucous cysts are painless and does not cause any complication. The bumps normally ruptures to ooze the fluid and heals on their own. However, in some cases the mucous cyst can be persistence and may require a doctor’s treatment that involves injections, laser therapy or cryotherapy.
- Fordyce spots
These are small lesions or bumps that appears on the vermillion boarder of the lips. They are painless and harmless bumps although some people may have concern about them due to cosmetic purposes. The cause of Fordyce granules are unknown although some people believe that they result from oil that is trapped under the sebaceous glands.
Fordyce spots can affect both male and females and they are not related to any sexually transmitted infection. Apart from the vermillion boarder, they can also appear on the inner lining of lips and cheeks. If you are bothered by this condition, you can opt for laser treatment or a chemical peel to get rid of this tiny white bumps on lips.
- Human papilloma virus
White spots on your lips can also occur due to human papillomavirus [HPV]. It is a sexually transmitted infection that is spread through direct skin-to-skin contact, oral sex, anal sex or vaginal sex with someone who is infected with this virus.
Apart from the lips, this infection can also affect your penis, vagina, vulva or the cervix and can also result to genital warts. The bumps on the lips are always painless unless you pick at them, they may occur as a single sore or in a cluster of multiple sores.
- Whiteheads or white pimple
Having white bumps on lips can also result from whiteheads. This is a type of acne that occurs when the pores on the line of your lips becomes clogged. Excessive oil, dead skin cells, sweat, bacteria, and other debris can get trapped in such pores to cause a whitehead on your lip line.
There are various treatment and remedies you can employ to get rid of such bumps. Some of them involves exfoliating your skin regularly or using anti-acne medication. You can also use anti-inflammatory medicines when having a painful bump to relieve the discomfort.
- Allergic reaction
Encountering an allergen in food, oral care products or medicines can cause an allergic reaction that leads to white bumps on lips. The other parts of your mouth like tongue, sides of cheeks can also develop the bumps. An allergic reaction is characterized with other symptoms like mouth inflammation, skin rash, and vomiting, sneezing and runny nose among others.
Using anti-histamines and steroid creams can be used to combat the allergy and any inflammation on your lips. To get rid of white spots on lip, try to avoid some of the causes of an allergic reaction. Avoid scratching on the affected areas as it may worsen your condition.
- Milia bumps
Milia spots are small hard white bumps that keeps coming and going away on your lips. They are common on the face but they can also affect the inner side of the cheeks and the vermillion boarder of your lips. They form when the dead cells are trapped under your skin rather than shedding off.
Other factors such as excessive exposure to the sun and chemicals used in making oral care products and lip care product can also cause the milia bumps to occur. Exfoliating skin can help to get rid of such small white bumps on lips.
Fordyce Spots on Lips
Fordyce spots are also known as Fordyce granules or sebaceous prominence. They appears on the lips as small white bumps. They commonly occur on the vermillion boarder of the lips. Vermillion boarder is simply the edge that separates the red color of the lip and the normal skin of your face.
Fordyce granules are harmless and does not cause any risk to your life. These spots are not caused by any of the sexually transmitted infection. However, it is important to get diagnosed or tested when you notice any bump on your lips. Some of the sexually transmitted infection normally resembles Fordyce spots in their initial stages.
Fordyce spots are believed to be caused when sebum is trapped in the sebaceous glands that doesn’t have a hair. Sebaceous glands normally open into a hair follicle that allows excretion of oil from your body. Therefore, it mean that oil will get trapped under your skin when the oil glands has no an opening.
Fordyce spots are not contagious. This means that you cannot get such spots through direct body contact, kissing or having a sexual intercourse with a person having Fordyce spots. They are natural occurrences that develops on the skin of an adult.
The initial symptom of Fordyce granules on lips is white or yellowish bumps on the surface of lips. These bumps are painless and non-cancerous. It is also characterized with white patches on the lip, spots at the corners of the mouth and the bumps can also be yellow in color.
Fordyce spots normally resolve on their own without treatment. Health specialist do not recommend any treatment for them. Any treatment performed to get rid of them is only done for cosmetic purposes. If you are not comfortable with having Fordyce white bumps on lips, you can get rid of them through the following treatment:
- Tretinoin gel
This is a popular cream that you can use to reduce the size of the Fordyce bumps. To make it more effective, you can use it in combination with alpha hydroxyacid agent. It is also important to minimize exposure of your lips to sun rays when using tretinoin gel.
- Trichloroacetic acid chemical peel
This is also another treatment you can use to get rid of Fordyce spots on lips. Trichloroacetic acid helps peel the skin that is affected with spots and hence reducing their size. This product can make your skin to become sensitive, it is therefore important to keep is moisturized and stay away from excessive sunrays.
Cryosurgery involves destructing the spots using very low temperatures. Although it is an effective treatment some people may avoid it since it can destruct the surrounding tissues.
- Herbal products and home remedies
There are various natural ingredients and products that are effective on how to get rid of the Fordyce spots. Some of the ingredients includes coconut oil, tea tree oil, garlic, jojoba oil, honey, turmeric, aloe Vera and lemon among others.
White Bumps on Lips Pictures
How do white bumps or spots on your lips look like? The appearance and the shape of these bumps normally depend with the cause. Some may be smaller or tiny while others relatively larger. They may appear as a single bump or as a multiple of bumps in a cluster. The shape varies from round, oval or irregular.
This is why we have included various pictures in this post to help you know visually how the white bumps look like when they appear on your lips. You can also use the picture to compare with your condition when trying to find out the cause.
White Bumps on Lips HPV
Human papillomavirus is another possible cause of white bumps or spots on lips. It is a sexually transmitted infection that is common among men and women who are sexually active. Apart from the lips, the white sore may also appear on the mucous membrane near mouth, genitals and anus.
There are more than 150 different types of HPV, some of which causes other conditions like warts, cancer of genitals and cancer of the cervix. This infection is transmitted by direct body to body contact during vaginal, anal or oral sex with someone who is infected.
Most people with HPV does not show symptoms although they can still spread the infection to their other sexual partners. Once you have this infection, it can affect the genital areas, throat and the mouth and can result to genital warts.
It is sometimes hard to know if you are having HPV although you may notice unusual growth or bumps when it has developed into warts. The bumps can be near your genitals, lips and an itchy feeling inside the vagina. Warts treatment ranges from the use of acid medicines, creams and laser therapy to remove the bumps and other symptoms.
White Bumps on Lips STD
Some of the sexually transmitted infections can also cause the white bumps to appear on your lips. The bumps could be raised, flat, single or clustered. The common STD that causes bumps on the lips includes syphilis and genital herpes.
Both of this infections are spread through body to body contact during vaginal sex, oral sex or anal sex. Syphilis is caused by treponema pallidum bacterium. After getting this infection, the initial symptoms usually shows up after six weeks from the day of infection.
It becomes dormant and re-appears again after 4 to 10 weeks showing various symptoms such as bumps on the oral cavities. This infection is treated using antibiotic medicines or injection. However, it can be life threatening when left untreated.
Genital herpes also causes a cluster or single white bumps to appear on the lips. It is caused by herpes simplex virus 1. In rare cases, it can also result from herpes simplex virus 2. This infection normally clears up after 7-9 days, you can take anti-viral medicines to speed up the healing process.
HIV infections weakens your immune system and you are likely to have an outbreak of other conditions like canker sores, oral thrush and cold sores that causes the white bumps to appear on the lips.
White Bumps inside of Lips
White bumps can appear on any part of your lips i.e. on the vermillion boarder, outer surface and on the inner side of the lip. However, bumps on inner lips are commonly caused by mucous cyst. These are fluid filled bumps that occurs inside of lips due to plugging of mucus from the salivary glands.
A white bump can also develop inside the lip due to an infected lip piercing. The bumps may develop near the pierced site on the inner part. Such a bump is always characterized with other symptoms such as pain, swelling and inflammation.
Other causes includes accidentally lip biting or a ruptured salivary gland. These are temporary bumps that normally heals on their own without treatment. However, you can seek medical treatment if they are causing excessive pain.
White Bumps on Lips Treatment
Treating white bumps or spots on your lips depend with the cause and the symptoms you are experiencing. Some of the conditions like Fordyce spots does not require treatment. However, these spots may lower your self-confidence and may want to get rid of them.
Therefore there are various treatment that you can use including the use of tretinoin gel, trichloroacetic acid chemical peel, use of herbal products like garlic or you can opt for cryosurgery to destruct the bumps.
Viral infections that causes white dots on lips doesn’t have treatment, you just have to allow them run their course. However, you can alleviate the symptoms and fasten the healing process by take anti-viral medicines like acyclovir
Conditions like oral thrush can be treated by taking anti-fungal medicines. The anti-fungal drugs are found inform of tablets and mouthwash solution that you may be required to use when cleaning your mouth.
Treatment is not necessary for minor canker sores, they usually clear on their own within 7-10 days. Major canker sore are very painful and they need a medical treatment. There are a number of treatment including oral medication, nutritional supplements and topical treatment with products such as benzocaine, fluocinonide and hydrogen peroxide
Make an appointment with your doctor when having small and hard white bumps on your lips, they may appear due to oral cancer. Cancer treatment depends on the severity of the condition, it can be treated by surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
How to Get Rid of White Bumps on Lips
Some of the white bumps normally heals on their own without treatment. However, there are different ways on how to get rid of them fast. They include the following:
- Hold on some ice chips on your lips to minimize inflammation and swelling of the bumps. However, do not over-hold the ice as it can burn your lips. This can be done 2-3 times a day.
- Using a clean cotton ball, apply a saline solution or antiseptic solution on the bumps. It helps to prevent infections as well as fastening the healing process.
- Combat an allergic reaction by taking some anti-histamine dugs to alleviate irritations and other discomforts.
- Keep your body hydrated by taking plenty of water and other soft drinks. It helps to minimize dehydration as well as waxing out toxin from your body that may cause bumps to appear on your lips and other oral tissues.
- Avoid foods and oral care products that causes an allergic reaction. Consult your doctor about the side effects drugs you may be taking if they causes any allergic reaction.
- Taking spicy, salty and acidic foods may irritate the white bumps on lips. It is therefore important to avoid such foods until when the bumps heals fully.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol can cause irritations to the bumps. It also contain harmful chemicals that may trigger bumps to develop on your lips and other oral cavities like tongue. It is therefore important to avoid it or drink responsibly.
- Quit smoking tobacco or using smokeless tobacco. Apart from irritating the bumps on your lips, it also increases the risk of developing oral cancer and other respiratory diseases.
- Mix equal quantities of water and 3% hydrogen peroxide. Use a cotton ball to apply the solution on the lips. Repeat this remedy 2-3 times daily until the bump heals.
- Garlic is also effective on how to get rid of Fordyce sports on lips. Make a paste and apply it directly to your lips 2-3 times daily to reduce the size of the spots.
- Magnesia milk also helps to get rid of the bumps. I personally I used this remedy to eliminate little white dots on my lips.
- It is also important to practice a good oral care hygiene to prevent some of the causes of white spots on lips and other oral cavities.
White bumps on the lips can also result from serious conditions like oral cancer. It is therefore recommended to visit your healthcare provider when having small, white and hard bumps on your lip. You will be diagnosed and given the required treatment.
More sources and references:
- White spots on lips:
- Bumps on lips – what is it?
- What causes small white- bumps on lips?
- What causes white bumps on the lip?
- Fordyce spots: