Small Bumps on Lips Causes and Treatment

Bumps on lips can be irritating and embarrassing. Most of them are not a big concern but can be a sign of some illnesses such as STDs.

In some scenarios they may be swollen and itchy. There are numerous causes of red and white bumps on lips. These may include allergies, herpes simplex, oral cancer, fordyce spots, fungal infections etc.

Their symptoms may appear on upper, lower or even corner of lips. Typically, mouth pimples may be white, yellow, itchy or painless lumps.

But how do you get rid of them easily?

Home remedies and other treatments may be used to get rid of such spots depending on the severity and underlying causes.

Bumps on lips
Bumps on lips

Causes of lip bumps

Changes around your mouth can make you self-conscious. Pimples may be caused clogged pores, mild or even serious health problems or even oral cancer. Here are more causes in detail.

1. Allergic reaction

Lips have tender soft surface. Any irritant can cause them to form lumps, a crack, blisters or bleeding. Sun burn may result to allergic reactions on the skin as well as the mouth causing formation of raised spots or a rash.

Your lip balm or lipstick may contain allergens that may irritate your skin. Smoking, food, pollen, mold and pat dander may also cause allergic reactions.

Allergic reaction bumps on lips
Allergic reaction bumps on lips

Allergic reaction may also occur as a result of toothpaste or oils found on fruits like mangoes, tomatoes and bananas causing irritation and rash.

Some people may also develop these symptoms due to allergies to medicines like penicillin that causes a condition called anaphylaxis.

2. Herpes

Herpes lip bumps
Herpes lip bumps

Herpes simplex may cause white canker sore. They may first appear as small sores or cluster of blisters filled with fluid or pus.

Can herpes manifest as ulcers in the soft tissue or inside the mouth?

HSV-1 may cause complications if accompanied by malnutrition, cancer, immuno-suppressant and other virus infections like AIDS.

Herpes simplex virus is contagious and spread through personal contact such as kissing, sharing utensils and other infected items. This condition may  get better and clear within 2 weeks on it’s own. Antiviral medication may be used to clear the symptoms although recurrence is highly possible.

3. Dryness and windy weather condition

Do you travel from cool to dry and windy areas? Traversing these weather conditions may cause to itchy bumps on lips.

Cracks on the corner of lips

You may consider moisturizing using coco butter, jojoba oil, olive oil or aloe Vera. Moisturizing your lips twice or thrice a day may play a important role in preventing dryness and cracks.

4. Oral cancer

Do you have tiny sores that do not go away or tend to turn from white to red? The appearance of painless or bleeding white bumps around your mouth may be a sign of oral cancer. Chewing tobacco, alcohol abuse, sun exposure and human papilloma virus (HPV) are risk factors of oral cancer.

Oral cancer may also spread to other parts of the mouth such as gums, tongue and jaw. The National Cancer Institute list the following symptoms.

  • Cold sore that won’t go away.
  • White and red patches on tongue and gums.
  • Unexplained loss of teeth.
  • Swollen jaw and sudden unexplained voice changes.

5. Trauma and injuries on lips

Trauma bumps inside lips
Trauma bumps inside lips

Physical stress or trauma may trigger itchiness, bleeding, cracking or even bumps. Eating hot foods or taking porridge without checking the temperature, lip biting may cause inflammation. Irritations from ill-fitting denture may cause physical stress and bumps.

6. Bacterial infection

Bacterial and fungus infection may cause outbreak of tiny small bumps on upper, lower or corner of the lips. The first sigh of bacterial infection is that they manifest as tiny bumps. Some of these bumps are contiguous and may spread through lipsticks or balm.

7. Lips infections

Lip bumps may appear due to fungal, bacterial and viral infections. At time these infection may cause swelling and itching. Sometimes these infections may be characterized by a rash, blisters, dryness, cracking or even peeling of the surface skin.

Discussed below are some of the infections.

  • Kawasaki disease; this condition causes inflammation of the walls of the medium sized arteries in your body. It is characterized by peeling of skin surface, high fever, itchiness and lumps. Children are more prone to this condition, although it may affect any one at different stages of life.
  • Cellulitis; this is a bacterial infection characterized by itchy, swelling, redness and tenderness of the skin or even lumps.
  • Cold sore; this is a viral infection also known as fever blister.  It is caused by herpes simplex virus and characterized by itchiness around the mouth before appearance of fluid or pus filled blisters. Cold sore is highly contagious. It spreads though personal contact like oral sex, kissing and any other direct contact. This infection has no treatment but heals on it’s own within 2 weeks. However, taking anti-viral medication may help speed up healing and alleviate the symptoms.
Cold sore bump on lips
Cold sore bump on lips
  • Angioedema; this is a health problem caused by allergic reaction to foods and other allergens. It can affect any other part of the body.
  • Stomatitis; stomatitis may cause your mouth and around it become swollen, itchy and inflamed.
  • Oral thrush; this is a mouth infection caused by candida fungus or yeast infection. It is characterized by white patches, itchy and burning sensation around the mouth.
  • Lichenoid and spongiosis inflammation; this is an infection caused by exposure of lips to oral medication and allergens.

8. Chemicals and Environmental pollutants

Do you interact with chemical on your routine? Exposure to chemicals, environmental pollutants such as smoke and dust may result to itchy inflammation. Generally, chemicals causes burning sensation and excessive dehydration triggering inflammation. Chemicals used to make lip balm or lipsticks may worsen or increase risk of irritation.

Are you are one of those people who use chapstick? Is your lip inflammation red colored? You may be allergic to chapstick. Consider using Vaseline instead or lip balm. Use and abuse of alcoholic drinks may also cause swollen reddish-pinkish bumps.

9. Dry lips

Vitamin A toxicity and other health problems may cause dryness around your mouth. Dryness in turn triggers swelling, hives, itchy or burning sensation and inflammation.Your lips is one of the most sensitive part of the skin compared to other part of the body.

Do you have excessive dryness around your mouth?

Dryness generally occurs due excessive dehydration, over exposure to sun, wind or cold air.  Licking your lips with tongue may also causes dehydration. Saliva evaporates faster and leave the lips more dehydrated than before.

10. Insects bites and stings

Are insect infesting your home? Insect bites and stings injects venom to your body. This may trigger itchy, swollen, painful inflammations and allergic reactions. Presence of bees, red ants, mosquito and spiders in your living and working environment may be the cause of pimples outbreak.

11. Sexually transmitted diseases

Are my bumps a sign of STD’s? Human papilloma virus (HPV) is contagious sexually transmitted disease and may spread through personal contact like oral sex and kissing. The HPV manifest as white or yellow dots inside and around the mouth or at the back of throat. The HPV increases the risk of oral cancer and affect your vulva, vagina, cervix, penis forming genital warts.

STD’s  are transmitted through having anal, vaginal or oral sex with someone infected with the virus. HIV/AID’s infection do compromise the immune system of the body to fight infections. This makes you body prone to other diseases and infections that may result to lumps inside and around your mouth.

12. Canker sores

Canker sores are white, grayish or yellowish itchy painful lesions with red edges. They are non-cancerous lumps that goes away within 2 weeks on their own. There is no clear known cause of  canker sores.

Stress, trauma, injuries, allergic reactions, nutritional deficiencies and impaired immune system however are risk factors. Canker sore may affect lower , upper or both lips.

13. Cysts

Can cysts develop on my lips? White, pinkish fluid filled sac like lumps may appear due to mucus cyst. Mucus cyst may develop inside the mouth, on lower, upper or at the corner of the lips. Injuries, trauma from piercing is the main known cause of cyst. Piercing triggers plugging of mucus from the salivary glands leading to inflammation.

Normally, mucus cysts forms painless lumps that raptures to ooze fluid and consequently heal on their own. Cysts do not cause complication, however they may be persistent in some individuals and require doctor’s attention. Laser therapy, cryotherapy and injections are some of the treatment to get rid of persistent mucus cysts.

14. Lip injection

Juvederm lip augmentation may lead to inflammation and irritation. Normally lumps develop temporarily after injection of Juvederm. However, massaging immediately may help to prevent uneven contours around your mouth.

They usually develop 3-4 days after Juvederm Volbella injection and go away within 2-3 weeks. Any lip injection with a product risk developing small lumps or just lip swelling.

15. Pregnancy

Can pregnancy cause lip bumps? According to journal of American Academy of Dermatology, “the female body goes a lot of changes during pregnancy including hormonal fluctuations that affects skin, the hair or the nails”. Dermatologist George Kroumpouzos, MD, PHD agrees with the author of “Dermatoses of Pregnancy”.

According to Bruce E. Katz, the biggest problem pregnant women undergo is that their acne gets worse, and will break out on their back, chest or face including lips. Pruritic urticarial papules and plagues of pregnancy (PUPPP) is one of the most common skin condition caused specific by pregnancy and worst on last trimester.

16. Eczema

Can eczema cause mouth bumps? Individual with eczema (atopic dermatitis) are more prone to developing Cheilitis. Cheilitis is a general condition of inflamed lips characterized by the following symptoms;

Cheilitis bumps on lips
Cheilitis bumps on lips
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Burning and stinging sensation
  • Peeling
  • Flaking
  • Crusting
  • Oozing
  • Itchiness

Cracking at the lateral corners of the lips (Chronic angular Cheilitis) may occur due to deficiency of certain nutrients such as vitamins B, iron and zinc. Licking of lips, saliva reactions and chronic sun damage may also cause inflammation on outer surface of the mouth.

17.Genetic Fordyce spots

It is worth noting that you may genetically have harmless white bumps just like birthmarks or moles. Fordyce spots are large enough sebaceous glands seen around your mouth, nose and eyes. Fordyce spots is a cluster of white spots  that usually disappears over time. They may also appear on the inner mouth cheeks or even on genitals.

Fordyce spots bumps on lips
Fordyce spots bumps on lips

Other causes of fordyce spots include;

  • Fluoride in toothpaste.
  • Poor personal hygiene.
  • Food: eating fried and fatty food.
  • Skin irritation due to waxing.
  • Low quality make-ups, cosmetics or even expired lip products

Red bumps on lips

Red bumps may appear around the mouth due to personal dermatitis. Scaly and pus or fluid filled lumps may form due to perioral dermatitis or periorificial dermatitis that may spread to eyes, or even nose. It commonly affect the women between 16-45 years of all ethnicity or race. Itchy red bumps may also be triggered by use of steroids, oral contraceptives, fungal infections, sunscreen and constant drooling.

Tiny itchy bumps on lips

Tiny itchy bumps may result due to allergic response of any products used on mouth. People who use lips make ups complain of itchy, tingling, burning or swelling of upper and lower lips or around the mouth and any other potential bumps on face. Itchy lips may be characterized by other symptoms like dryness, redness, blistering, peeling, hives or even rash. They are some of various causes of itchiness include; allergic reaction, vitamin B12 deficiency, environmental condition or even other lips infections.

Chapped lips and blisters

Chapped lips and blisters may occur due to sun exposure, dry, cold weathers that may causes crack, peels and rash. Mostly, chapped and blistered lips may be treated through home remedies. However, presence of mouth sores accompanied by irritations may be a symptom of serious underlying medical condition like allergic reactions and tumors.

Bumps on lips picture
Bumps on lips picture

Chapped lips and blisters may also be caused by dehydration. These bumps usually start with mild irritation, redness and worsen as time goes if not well addressed.  Chapped lips may be treated though use of beeswax and petrolatum. If you have chapped lips avoid hot beverages and foods, citrus, spicy and salty foods.

Blisters on lips
Blisters on lips

What are treatment of pimples on lips

Getting pimples on lips can be embarrassing, you can’t eat, drink, talk or even step out in peace. Worry not, here are few remedies that can help you out.

1. Homemade remedies

1.Turmeric

Turmeric contains anti-bacterial properties and can fade the scars on your skin. This help in healing the inflamed lumps.

Steps;

  1. Mix ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder with water to make paste.
  2. Apply on lip bumps and leave as long as possible.
  3. Rinse it off with plain water.

2.Honey

Honey is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial. Applying honey on pimples help in reducing and improving the inflammation almost immediately. Honey lowers the Ph making the atmosphere unsuitable for bacterial to thrive.

Steps;

  1. Apply some honey on the lip bumps and let it be. Ensure you use organic raw honey only.

 3.Aloe Vera

Take a fresh Aloe-Vera gel and apply on the pimples. Leave it as long as possible. Repeat the procedure 3 to 4 times a day to reduce redness, get rid and aid healing of pimples

4. Lemon

Apply a few drops of lemon on lip pimples, it has antibacterial and astringent properties. When applied at day time it is advisable to avoid stepping out in the sun since they make the skin photosensitive and may cause more damage due to its bleaching effects.

Steps

  1. Cut a lemon into half pieces and squeeze the juice.
  2. Apply the lemon juice on the affected area and wait till it dries off.
  3. Wash with lukewarm water.
  4. Repeat 2-3 time daily.

Caution If you have sensitive skin avoid using lemon juice since it can cause skin reactions.

5. Coconut oil

Coconut oil contains unique absorbable fatty acids that moisturizes the skin, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that can help get rid of bumps on lips.

Steps

  1. Mix 2 part of virgin coconut oil with 1 part of each white and brown granulated sugar.
  2. Apply the mixture on your lips and massage gently for 2-5 minutes.
  3. Rinse with water.
  4. Repeat the steps regularly for best results.

You can add tablespoon of vanilla extract or honey for added benefits.

6. Tea tree oil

According to medical research, tea tree oil gel contains 5% benzoyl peroxide which is a medicinal element that help to get rid of lip bumps.

Steps

  1. Mix 4-8 drops of tea tree oil with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or jojoba oil.
  2. Apply on your lips and massage it, leave it for 5-8 minutes.
  3. Rinse with water.
  4. Repeat the procedure regularly.

7. Garlic

Steps;

  1. Take the raw garlic cloves and crush it into pieces (to trigger allicin production).
  2. Mix the garlic cloves in a little water.
  3. Apply the garlic mixture on acne pimples area.
  4. Allow it to stay for around 10 – 15 minutes.
  5. wash it off using water and then pat dry the skin,
  6. Rub freshly cut pieces of garlic several times a day
  7. repeat the process till you clear this acne completely on your skin.

8.Cod Liver Oil,  Vitamin A and E Creams

Cod-liver oil contains healthy omega 3 fatty acids that have anti-inflammatory effects on the skin

Steps

  1. Squeeze 2-3 cod liver oil capsules.
  2. Add to vitamin A and E creams and mix well.
  3. Apply the mixture on the lips and massage it.
  4. Repeat the procedure regularly for best results.

Vitamin A keeps the skin healthy. It encourages cell turnover and prevents the hair follicles.

Steps

  1. Squeeze oil from 1-2 vitamin capsules.
  2. Apply on pimples on lips and massage gently for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Leave it for about 15- 20 minutes.
  4. Repeat the process regularly.

Vitamin E has an antioxidant effects on the skin and also inflammatory.

  1. Squeeze oil from 1 vitamin E capsule.
  2. Apply and massage your lips. Alternatively add a few table spoon to your bath water and soak in it for 30 minutes.
  3. Repeat the procedure regularly

Eat fruits rich in vitamin E (carrots, papaya, grapes, strawberries and tomatoes) for better results.

9. Jojoba oil

Method 1

Jojoba oil with carrot oil and lime juice

Steps;

  1. Mix 1 table spoon jojoba oil, 1 table spoon of lime juice with ½ table spoon of carrot oil.
  2. Mix them in a container and apply on your lips.
  3. Leave the mixture to dry.
  4. Use regularly.

Method 2

Jojoba oil, mint and turmeric

  1. Combine 1 table spoon of jojoba oil, ¼ table spoon turmeric and fresh chopped mint leaves.
  2. Apply the mixture on your lips as you massage.
  3. Leave for 10-15 minutes and rinse off with water.
  4. Repeat the procedure regularly.
  5. Use this mixture as long as it does not irritate your lips.

When to seek Medical attention from a dermatologist?

In most cases the lip pimples go away on their own without complication. However, seek immediate medical attention or doctors appointment when you experience these symptoms:

  • Non-stop bleeding from bumps.
  • Breathing difficulties.
  • Rash that spread quickly.
  • Swollen jawline.
  • Painful lip bumps.
  • White patches on lips.
  • Numbness of the tongue.
  • Bumps that won’t go away.

2. Doctor’s prescription for bumps on lips?

  • Antibiotics and ointments- antiviral medications.
  • Liquid nitrogen treatment.
  • Surgery and grafting.
  • Laser treatment.
  • Chemotherapy or radiation for oral cancer.

What are the preventive measure for pimples on lips?

  1. Drink enough water. Water hydrate the body and help eliminate the toxins. This help keeping your body at optimum health including your skin.
  2. Proper personal hygiene. Make it a habit to wash your mouth after meal. It helps prevent the food residue around your mouth becoming a breeding ground for bacteria’s.
  3. Health diets. Eat a healthy diet and avoid fried, fatty food, sugary, processed meat and alcohol that may affects the normal natural production of sebum Brush your lips.
  4. Remember to brush your lips. it has positive impact on your lip bumps and prevent future break out.
    Get rid of lip bumps
    Get rid of lip bumps
  5. Select your tooth paste wisely. Using fragrance free tooth paste or gel that has no chemical irritants
  6. Check the expiry dates of your makeups. Old expired make up are harmful to your skin and lips, avoid them at all cost.
  7. Avoid chapstick and lip products. If you are prone to developing pimples on your lips, its best to avoid using oily and waxy lip balms. The oil and wax may trap dirt and clog your pores. You may consider using lip balms with antimicrobial agents.
  8. Avoid/ be stress free. Try to relax your mind through exercises like yoga, casual walks and meditation. Stress causes hormonal fluctuations which can cause acne and other skin issues.
  9. Avoid sharing lip make ups. Bacteria, fungus and even viruses can be transferred through sharing lips make ups. Bacteria and virus may cause pimples on lips.

Sources and Reference

Livestrong : What are the little bumps on the lips?

Healthline: Symptoms of perioral dermatitis?

WebMD: What are skin problems of pregnancy?

Medical news today: What is Fordyce spots?