Reasons for White Spots on Lips
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Last updated June 14, 2017, originally published June 26, 2012

By Stephen Kintz,  Contributing Columnist
[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of
Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our Editorial

If you have white spots on your lips, you're
understandably concerned. While there are no statistics on
how common the problem of having white lips spots is, the
condition is though to be less common that
dark spots on
lips. White spots are usually a symptom of some other
condition or disease. However, if you happen to notice
white spots on your lips, it is hard to assess whether the
white spots are harmless or dangerous. Therefore, if you
do notice new white spots on your lips, you should have
them evaluated by a doctor. This article will provide
information for seven different causes of white spots.

Fordyce Spots

Fordyce spots are a form of ectopic sebaceous glands that
are usually red or white and, typically, appear on the
genitals or lips. Fordyce spots are very common in most
children and adults, but they are not associated with any
known illness or condition. They are merely cosmetic. Of
course, some men do report to clinics after discovering the
white spots on their genitals for fear of STDs.

Ocampo-Candian and colleagues published a 2003 study in
Dermatologic Surgery from the Medipiel Centros
Dermatológicos in Monterrey, México that demonstrated the
cosmetic blemish can be removed by a carbon dioxide
(CO2) super-pulsed laser.

Oral Herpes (Cold Sores)

The American Academy of Dermatology claims that around
80 to 90% of the American population has herpes simplex
type 1 or herpes simplex type 2. Of course, this does not
mean that around 90% of the American population is
walking around with an oral STD. Most people simply have
cold sores (fever blisters). Cold sores are caused by an
opportunistic virus, so they usually flare up when you are
stressed, fatigued, or sick. They can also appear after sun
burns and cuts.

Currently, there is no cure, but you can manage the
symptoms with over-the-counter drugs or prescribed
antiviral drugs.


Research studies have found that the common spice
curcumin appears to significantly lower the incidence of
cold sores. A 2009 study led by Dr. James Doroghazi of
Michigan State University found that curcumin "significantly
decreased HSV-1 [herpes simplex virus 1] infectivity".

Contact Dermatitis

The National Institute of Health defines contact dermatitis
as a condition where the skin becomes red, swollen, or
sore because of some irritant or allergen. Typically, the skin
will produce red bumps or spots, but it is possible to
develop pale pink or white bumps or spots from an irritant
or allergen.

Most often, these allergens or irritants are foods (mangoes,
oranges, etc.) or make-up (lipstick, foundation, etc.). For
treatment, you should avoid the irritant or allergen. (Read
more about
causes of cures for dermatitis.)

Canker Sores

The National Institute of Health defines canker sores as
painful, white or yellow ulcers that are, generally, found on
the inner lips, cheek, or mouth. They present with a white
or yellow sore that is usually under 1cm. Canker sores are
not dangerous and do not cause cancer. Women are more
likely to develop canker sores than men.

Unfortunately, while it is believed canker sores are caused
by a virus, the actual cause of your canker sore will often
go undiagnosed. Treatment from a doctor is usually not

For home treatment, you can clean the ulcer with a half
hydrogen peroxide, half water solution. You should also
avoid spicy foods and other irritants. The pain will
disappear within a few days; the sore will disappear within
two weeks.

Mucous Cyst

Mucous cysts are small white or pink sacs of fluid that
develop from sucking, irritating, or biting the lip. The
National Institute of Health says mucous cysts are very
common but are painless and present with no known
complications. The sacs will usually rupture within a few
days, or you can go to the doctor and have them rupture
the sac.

Since there is a risk of infection, it is not recommended for
you to rupture the sac at home. However, if the irritation
continues, the cyst could form a permanent bump on the
lip. If the cyst forms a permanent bump, there is no known
treatment other than surgical removal.


The National Institute of Health defines thrush as a yeast
infection in the mucous membrane and mouth. Basically,
thrust is an embarrassing yeast infection of your mouth
that presents with white, velvety sores that are prone to
bleed. However, it does not have to be an STD.

We all have yeast in our mouths, so for individuals with
weakened immune symptoms can develop
thrush (for
example, infants, the elderly, the sick, diabetes patients,
and HIV positive individuals). Generally, thrust is no big
deal unless you have a comprised immune system from
diabetes or HIV. To treat the condition, you can try eating
yogurt and rise your mouth with a diluted 3% hydrogen
peroxide solution. (Read more about
natural remedies for

Oral Cancer

Unfortunately, a pale or white spot or bump on your lip
could be an indication of oral cancer according the National
Institute of Health. Since most oral cancers spread quickly,
it is important to get any suspicious looking white cyst on
your lips examined by a medical professional. The cure rate
is around 90% if the oral cancer is diagnosed before it
spreads to other parts of the body.

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