White Bumps On Lips: Types, Causes, Symptoms, & Home Remedies

From a lack of hygiene to hormonal imbalances – anything can be the root of this problem.

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Robert S. Bader, MD
By Monomita Chakraborty

If you have recently noticed white bumps on lips and are worried about what they are, we have the answer. These white bumps are oral ulcers and are mostly caused by factors like hormonal imbalances, poor skin hygiene, and may also indicate an underlying skin condition. They can cause great discomfort and pain, and you may have trouble opening your mouth. Therefore, consult a doctor and get them treated or try home remedies for relief and pain management. In this article, we have discussed the home remedies to minimize white bumps on the lips and preventive measures to take. Keep reading.

What Causes White Bumps On Lips?

The sebum builds up on the lips when secreted abnormally and serves as a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria. This can inflame the surrounding skin and cause white bumps.

The most common causes of white bumps on lips include:

  • Hormonal imbalances (1)
  • Poor personal hygiene (2)
  • Allergic response to ingredients and products (anecdotal evidence)
  • An injury to the area (3)
  • Genetics (Anecdotal evidence)

Let us look at some of the most common conditions that may cause white bumps on lips. Keep reading.

Types Of White Bumps On Lips

1. Fordyce Spots

These are clusters of tiny white or yellow patches on or around the lips. These patches fade away with time and are neither contagious nor painful. These are enlarged sebaceous glands and occur mostly on vermilion (the red part of the lips) and oral mucosa. These also may occur on the penis, scrotum, and labia, though they are less common. The condition is mostly observed in middle-aged and elderly individuals (4). A study suggests that individuals with an elevated lipid profile may have the highest score of Fordyce spots (5).

StyleCraze Says
Fordyce spots are entirely benign, occurring in 70-80% of adults. Usually, treatment is not required or advised (4).

2. Milia

These are benign (not harmful) and transient white cysts of keratine (a protein) on the skin. Dead skin cells get trapped under the skin and form cysts. These cysts are common in infants and develop on the face (usually on the nose, chin, cheeks, or along the boundary of the lips). Milia are classified into two types — primary milia and secondary milia. Lesions of some milia fade away on their own while others don’t. However, they can be treated with simple surgical interventions and topical retinoids (6).

3. Oral Thrush

It is an infection caused by the accumulation of the Candida albicans fungus in the mouth. It affects the oral mucosa and is also referred to as oral candidiasis or oropharyngeal candidiasis (7). It is characterized by white or yellowish bumps on the inside of the cheeks, lips, and tongue.

4. Canker Sores

Canker sores are a type of white spots that occur inside and on the lips

Shutterstock

These are inflammatory white-reddish patches (mouth ulcers) on the mucous membrane lining the mouth. Usually, two to four canker sores develop at the same time. Many people start to get them when they are teens or young adults. These are more common in women than in men.

Canker sores are painful but not contagious and fade away within a week or so. Stress, oral injuries, and foods like coffee, peanuts, and tomatoes can trigger them (8), (9).

Stylecraze Trivia
There is no cure for canker sores. Generally, treatments to manage the condition involve corticosteroids.

5. Mucoceles

Mucoceles are the most common lesions of the oral mucosa. These are caused by the accumulation of mucus secretion due to trauma, lip-biting tendencies, or changes in minor salivary glands. These occur anywhere in the oral mucosa, including the lips (most common), cheeks, and mouth (10).

6. Oral Cancer

It is characterized by a flat white bump in the mouth caused by a variety of factors, including excess exposure to the sun, excess alcohol intake, tobacco use, and the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a viral infection that is spread through skin-to-skin contact (11).

Some types of white bumps that occur on the lips can be managed with simple home remedies. Scroll down to know more about them.

How To Treat White Bumps On Lips

1. Garlic

Garlic may help reduce white spots on the lips

Shutterstock

Garlic contains antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties (12), (13), (14). Consuming garlic cloves daily helps you maintain dental hygiene and prevent bacterial growth.

Ingredients

  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 200 ml water
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice

Method

  • Crush the garlic cloves and add water and lemon juice.
  • Drink the mixture in the morning on an empty stomach.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Dab diluted apple cider vinegar on your lips to minimize white spots

Shutterstock

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) has antibacterial properties (15). Its astringent effect may help regulate and manage the excess sebum production on the skin.

Ingredients

  • A few drops of apple cider vinegar
  • A few drops of water
  • Cotton sponge/ball

Method

  • Mix apple cider vinegar and water in equal amounts.
  • Dab the solution on the affected skin with a cotton ball.
  • Rinse off with lukewarm water after a few minutes.
  • Apply twice a week for better results.

3. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil may prevent white spots on the lips

Shutterstock

Dehydrated skin leads to excess sebum release, which may result in white bumps. Coconut oil hydrates and moisturizes your skin (16). It has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties too (17).

Ingredients

  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut oil
  • A few drops of lavender essential oil

Method

  • Apply warm, unrefined coconut oil to the afflicted area.
  • You can also blend it with lavender oil and apply.

Maintain oral hygiene and eat a balanced diet to avoid the recurrence of white bumps. Regularly rinse your mouth with warm water and salt.

Medications and topical treatments may provide temporary relief or completely heal the condition. Visit your dentist regularly for routine checkups.

White bumps can be bothersome, but you can prevent them with a few self-care techniques. Check them out in the next section.

Self-Care Measures To Treat White Bumps On Lips

Here are a few self-care techniques that may help a lip bump heal faster and minimize any pain or discomfort.

  • Wash your face with warm water until the bump goes away. Use a liquid cleanser.
  • Pat the skin dry after washing the face rather than rubbing it.
  • Avoid the use of tobacco.
  • Avoid cosmetics, sunscreen, and face creams.
  • Eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals obtained from whole foods.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Avoid rubbing, squeezing, or touching the bumps.
  • Maintain good oral health by brushing and flossing the teeth at least twice a day.
  • Use lip balms with natural components and a sun-protection factor.

Do you need to seek medical attention for white bumps on the lips? If yes, when should you consult a doctor?

When To See A Doctor?

White bumps on the lips are usually harmless and do not warrant medical attention. Consult a doctor only if these bumps persist longer than two weeks or cause the following symptoms:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Difficulty chewing and swallowing
  • Neck and jaw swelling
  • Fever and sore throat
  • Rapid-spreading rashes
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Numb tongue

Infographic: Medical Treatments For White Bumps On Lips

White bumps can develop on your lips due to factors such as hormonal imbalance, allergic reaction, or poor skin hygiene. Sometimes, it may also be the symptom of an underlying medical condition. While some white bumps can be managed at home with simple natural remedies, some require proper medical treatment.

Check out the infographic below to know more!

medical treatments for white bumps on lips [infographic]

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

White bumps on the lips, such as canker sores, usually do not require medical attention. They may cause irritation and pain, but they can be relieved with easy home remedies. Try the solutions recommended in this article for yourself and see the results. White bumps are inconvenient, but they can be avoided with a few self-care practices. However, if these bumps linger for more than two weeks, you should see a doctor. Furthermore, it is critical to comprehend their causes to rule out any major underlying disease. Therefore, regular dental examinations are recommended.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a white bump on the lip a cold sore?

A white bump on the lips could be a cold sore if it develops into a cluster of white bumps.

How long do Fordyce spots last?

Fordyce spots are usually permanent. But, sometimes, they fade away on their own. While they may get aggravated due to stressful situations, they are usually harmless. However, you may still choose to get them removed through topical medications or laser techniques.

Key Takeaways

  • Hormonal imbalances, poor personal hygiene, and injury may cause white bumps on lips.
  • Though these bumps may cause some pain, they are harmless. These can be treated using simple home remedies like garlic, coconut oil, and apple cider vinegar.
  • White bumps may heal faster by washing your face with warm water, avoiding cosmetics, and drinking plenty of water.

17 Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Symptomatic changes of oral mucosa during normal hormonal turnover in healthy young menstruating women
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22665744/
  2. Risk factors and management of white spot lesions in orthodontics
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4072374/
  3. oral mucosal trauma and injuries
    https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/65714
  4. Fordyce Spots
    https://www.oatext.com/pdf/CCRR-1-140.pdf
  5. Can presence of oral Fordyce\’s granules serve as a marker for hyperlipidemia?
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25426145/
  6. Milia
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK560481/
  7. Oral candidiasis: An overview
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4211245/
  8. Canker sores (mouth ulcers): Overview
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546250/
  9. Guideline for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis for Dental Practitioners
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4441245/
  10. Oral mucocele: Review of literature and a case report
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26538955/
  11. Oral Cancer: Prevention Early Detection and Treatment
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK343649/
  12. Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4103721/
  13. Inhibition of microbial growth by ajoene a sulfur-containing compound derived from garlic.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC168248/
  14. Antimicrobial properties of allicin from garlic
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10594976/
  15. Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5788933/
  16. A randomized double-blind controlled trial comparing extra virgin coconut oil with mineral oil as a moisturizer for mild to moderate xerosis
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15724344/
  17. In vitro anti-inflammatory and skin protective properties of Virgin coconut oil
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6335493/
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Monomita has a graduate degree in mass communication and video production from St. Anthony's College, Shillong, and a master’s degree... more

Dr. Robert S. Bader

(MD)
Robert S. Bader is an Ivy League-trained physician and surgeon who is a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon. Aside from... more

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