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Woman with cold sore touching lips

Bumps on Lips

It can be difficult to ignore sudden changes on your lips, whether it’s while glancing at yourself in the mirror after waking up or as you apply your favorite lip balm. If there’s a bump on your lip, then you may wonder what it is and how it got there. There are a number of causes that could have triggered that sudden spot on or around your lips. We discuss the different causes of lip bumps to help you determine if the spot is reason for concern and the ways to treat the spot, if necessary.

Allergies Could Be Causing the Bumps on Your Lips

One of the reasons you may have a bump on your lip is due to an allergic reaction to things like pollen, pet dander, or particular types of food. 1 Allergic reactions occur when your immune system identifies a particular allergen as harmful, causing your skin and lips to become inflamed, or even more severe reactions like anaphylaxis. 2 Common allergy triggers range from particular foods such as peanuts, soy, and fish, as well as reactions to certain medications or airborne allergens such as pollen and dust mites.3

If you’ve noticed the lip bumps after eating certain foods, or if you know that you’ve come into contact with certain airborne allergens, then you may want to consult your healthcare provider. Your doctor may want to perform a few tests such as a skin or blood test to better evaluate whether you have an allergy.4

The White Bump on Your Lip Could Be a Canker Sore

If the bump on your lip is inside your mouth and comes with a burning or tingling sensation, then it may be a canker sore. 5 A canker sore, also known as an aphthous ulcer, is a small lesion that can develop on the soft tissues in your mouth or at the base of your gums. 6 Canker sores can be painful, especially when eating foods or talking as doing these activities can irritate the canker sore.7

You can develop different types of canker sores. For example, a minor canker sore is most common. These are usually small and oval-shaped, and can heal without scarring in just a few weeks. 8 Major canker sores are not as common, but can be extremely painful with a shape that has irregular edges, taking up to six weeks to heal and potentially leaving major scarring. 9 Canker sores can be triggered by minor injuries to your mouth like dental work or an accidental cheek bite, as well as food sensitivities and diet deficiencies that don’t have vitamin B-12, zinc, or iron. 10 Consult with your doctor if your canker sore is causing unmanageable pain, persistent sores, or sores that extend into the lips themselves, as you may need more immediate medical attention.11

The Lip Bump May Be a Cold Sore

That bump on your lip may, in fact, be a cold sore, especially if you notice these bumps or blisters grouped together in patches around your lips. 12 Cold sores are caused by certain strains of the herpes simplex virus (HSV). More specifically, HSV-1 usually causes cold sores, while HSV-2 causes genital herpes.13

There are various symptoms you can experience if you do have a cold sore. For example, you may feel an itching, burning or tingling around the lips for a day or so before a small, hard spot appears and then blisters out. 14 You may then notice small, fluid-filled blisters start to appear around the border of your lips, and eventually the blisters may merge and then burst.15

The signs and symptoms can vary, depending on if this your first outbreak of cold sores. If it’s your first outbreak, then you may also experience symptoms like fever, headache, muscle aches, and painful gums. 16 Various treatment options are available to you for cold sores. Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication that you can take on a consistent basis if you have a history of developing cold sores more than nine times a year. 17 You can also try the Abreva® Cold Sore Cream— Abreva contains the only non-prescription ingredient approved by the FDA to shorten cold sore healing time, in as few as 2 ½ days.*

A sudden bump on your lips can be alarming, but we hope that understanding the potential causes of lip bumps can help you take the necessary steps to get rid of the bumps. Learn more about how to manage lip health and what to do if you find yourself dealing with cold sores.

*Median healing time 4.1 days when used at the first sign. 25 percent of users healed within 2½ days.

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SOURCES

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2. Allergies: Causes and Symptoms. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/allergies/symptoms-causes/syc-20351497. Accessed on 1/29/2021. Referenced text indicated on page 1 in source PDF.

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