What are white bumps on lips? Causes and Treatment

What are white bumps on lips? Causes and Treatment

Your lips help you communicate with the world. It’s normal to feel self-conscious when you have white bumps on your body. These bumps can have various causes.

Most white bumps aren’t concerning, but sometimes they indicate oral cancer. Seeking medical attention is one of the best ways to stay healthy.


Lips can develop white bumps for a variety of reasons. These include:

Fordyce spots: These tiny, white bumps inside the lips (1 to 2 millimeters) are sebaceous glands, which produce oil. The size of these spots tends to increase with age. Lips may have one small bump or as many as 100 bumps, usually on the inner portion.

Herpes simplex: You can get canker sores or white bumps on your lips when you have oral herpes. Initially, these may appear as small sores, then become blistered and fluid-filled.

Milia: These small bumps appear on babies when dead skin cells become trapped in the skin. Milia are most commonly found on the face, but they can also appear on the lips.

Oral cancer: A white bump may appear on the face with a flat or raised texture. Initially, the bump is usually painless, but may begin to bleed or ulcerate over time. Sun exposure, alcohol abuse, tobacco use (especially chewing tobacco), and human papillomavirus (HPV) are all known causes of oral cancer.

Oral thrush: An oral thrush infection causes white lesions in the mouth, on the lips, gums, or tonsils. The most common strain of Candida albicans that causes oral thrush is Candida albicans.

White bumps on the lips are sometimes harmless genetic variations. Some people have moles or birthmarks, while others may have white bumps on their lips.

small white bumps on lips
small white bumps on lips

When to seek medical help

In most cases, white bumps on the lips do not require emergency medical treatment. If you have the following symptoms along with white bumps on the lips, you may wish to make an appointment with your doctor:

  • bumps that are painful
  • bumps that bleed
  • feeling as if something is caught in your throat
  • jaw or neck swelling
  • numbness of your tongue
  • trouble chewing or swallowing
  • fever or sore throat

Make an appointment with your doctor if your white bumps do not disappear after two weeks.

How they’re diagnosed

In order to view the white bumps on your lips, your doctor will take a full medical history and perform a physical exam. He or she will feel your face and jaw for swelling and examine your lips and insides of your lips. They will also check your neck for swelling in your lymph nodes.

If necessary, your doctor may swab your lip. This is known as a culture. The culture can be tested in a laboratory to determine whether bacteria, viruses, or fungi are causing the bumps. Your doctor may collect a tissue sample to test for cancerous cells if you are suspected of having oral cancer.

Your doctor may be able to diagnose the white bumps on your lips by looking at them. A blood test can also determine if you have the herpes virus.

Treatment options

White bumps on the lips can be treated based on the cause of the symptoms. There are some conditions, such as Fordyce spots, that do not require treatment. You can, however, have the Fordyce spots removed if you don’t like their appearance. Using techniques such as electrosurgery or laser treatment, doctors can remove them.

Anti-fungal medications are often prescribed to treat thrush, such as a liquid solution you swish in your mouth and swallow.

Taking antiviral medications can temporarily eliminate your oral herpes symptoms, but they do not cure the infection permanently.

According to the severity of the condition, oral cancer requires different treatments. Surgical removal of the cancerous lesion, chemotherapy, or radiation are some of the treatments available.

At-home care

No matter what the cause of white bumps on your lips is, don’t pick at them. The area can become more inflamed and more susceptible to infection as a result.

To prevent your lips from getting too dry and painful, apply an ointment with your doctor’s permission. Rinsing with warm salt water can also help minimize irritation. Mix one half-teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water and swish it around in your mouth before spitting it out.


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