White Bumps on Lips: Causes, Diagnosis, And Treatment


What reaction are you likely to have when you notice the development of white bumps on your lips? Could be a sign that you are suffering from a serious health condition?

The causes of small white bumps on the lips are numerous and varied. The good thing is that most of the white bumps on the lips are harmless. However, if you notice hard persistent white bumps on lips, have a doctor review it just to be sure.

White Bumps on Lips

What Are The Causes Of White Bumps?

The reasons why white bumps appear on your lips are numerous and varied. In some cases, white bumps come as a result of a form of genetic variation, in which case they are harmless.

The following are the common causes of white bumps on lips:

1. Fordyce Spots

In most cases, Fordyce granules appear as yellow or whitish bumps on the lips. They are, however, very common in the genital area.

They don’t look anything bigger than 1 to 2 mm in diameter. Found inside the lips they appear bigger in older individuals.

These spots are nothing to worry about since they are largely benign. No treatment will be prescribed for this condition.

2. Herpes Simplex

Oral herpes is one of the common conditions that cause white bumps on lips. They start out as small sores before developing into blisters and filling on with fluids.

You should see a doctor if the bumps are accompanied by swollen neck glands and fever. The most common prescription is a combination of antiviral medication.

The good thing is that the symptoms are able to clear within a few weeks without any treatment.

Related Article: Eczema on Lips: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments.

3. Milia

This is a condition that mostly affects small babies and appears either on the face or lips. They come as a result of dead skin being trapped under the dermis. They don’t represent any serious medical condition and are no cause alarm.

4. Oral Cancer

Although having widespread symptoms, oral cancer appears as white bumps on lips. Cancer in the lips also manifests itself in the form of sores that don’t just heal coupled with hard lumps. In the beginning, lips bumps due to cancer are painless. With time, they begin to ulcerate and bleed.

Some of the common causes of oral cancer include tobacco, alcohol, human papillomavirus, and exposure to the sun.

5. Oral Thrush

White bumps on lips can also come as a result of infection by a fungus known as candida albicans. This condition is known as oral thrush. The white lesions are likely to spread to the tonsils, gums, and lips.

White Bumps on Lips

When Should You See A Doctor?

In most cases, white bumps on lips are harmless and do not require any form of treatment. Don’t expect to have them for more than two weeks.

Anything further than that necessitates that you seek medical attention from a qualified doctor. Talk to a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Pain due to the bumps.
  • Bleeding bumps.
  • A throat that feels like it is blocked.
  • Swelling in your neck and jaws.
  • Numbness in the tongue.
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing food.
  • A sore throat and fever.

Since it is hard to pinpoint the exact cause of white bumps on lips, it is important that you see a doctor if the problem persists for more than two weeks. It is also important that you arrange for regular dental checkups.

Your dentist is in the position to catch and treat potentially problematic lip bumps. If it is cancer, it will be arrested early enough.

How Are White Bumps In Lips Diagnosed?

After taking your medical history, the doctor will physically examine the outer and inner bumps. This will be followed by a physical examination of your lymph nodes and neck to see if they are swollen.

A culture from the lips is then prepared to ascertain whether the bumps are due to a fungus, virus or bacteria.

If a virus is detected, the doctor will have a blood test performed to check if it is herpes simplex. Where cancer is a possible culprit, a lip tissue is tested for signs of cancerous cells.

When it comes to some conditions, the appearance of the white bumps is enough for the doctor to make a diagnosis.

What Are The Treatment Options For White Bumps On Lips?

The treatment prescribed for white bumps on lips will depend on the underlying causes. It may include any of the following options:

  • By their nature, Fordyce spots don’t spell any harm for you and, therefore, the doctor may not prescribe any treatment. For those who think their appearance is too compromised, electro-surgery and laser therapy are the best ways to get them off your lips.
  • To treat oral thrush, the doctor will prescribe anti-fungal medications. All there is to that is a mouthwash that you gargle before spitting out.
  • All you need to treat oral herpes is a round of antiviral medications although, like other types of viruses, this is not totally curable. What the medications do is to manage the condition so it doesn’t become severe.
  • If you are found to have oral cancer, the doctor may prescribe that you undergo radiation therapy, chemical therapy or surgery.

How to Care For White Bumps On Lips

Regardless of the cause of the white bumps, there are certain things you can do at home to prevent the symptoms from becoming worse. According to the advice by dermatologists, you should never squeeze or pick the spots. Leave them alone.

Getting into the habit of maintaining good dental hygiene and limiting the intake of sugary or yeast containing foods can help prevent oral thrush. You can use apple cider as an oral thrush treatment, due to its acetic acid content.

To avoid spreading the infection, it is important that you avoid licking your lips. If you have Fordyce spots, rub your lips gently to get rid of the dead cells at the very beginning.

Before you reach conclusions as to the cause of the bumps, ensure you know their exact cause. After all, it could be cancer. With the help of a doctor, you should be able to know what exactly you are dealing with.

Related Article: Bumps on the Back of the Tongue – Causes and Effective Treatments.


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