The blisters on the lip include cold sores, sunburn blisters, and canker sores. A person should pay attention to the location and appearance of the bladder to identify the cause.
There are many reasons why lip blisters develop, including infection, sun damage, and allergies.
This article describes various possible causes of lip blisters, symptoms, and treatment options.
A blister on the lip can be due to a number of conditions, including:
- Viral infections: Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is a common virus that causes cold sores. Cold sores are painful, fluid-filled sores on the lip that can blister. Cold sores can recur throughout a person’s life.
- Sunburn: Ultraviolet (UV) rays can cause blisters on the lips in particularly severe sunburn.
- Blocked or cracked salivary glands: Mucoceles are fluid-filled cysts that can develop on the inside of the lower lip when the salivary gland ruptures or becomes blocked.
- Canker sores:These are common mouth blisters that cause small, round sores on the mouth and lips. Scientists don’t know what causes canker sores, but some research suggests that they develop when the immune system attacks the lining of the mouth. It is also possible that canker sores develop due to an allergic reaction to ingredients in food.
- Trapped keratin: Milia are small keratin cysts that often develop on the face and other areas of the body.
- Allergic contact dermatitis: Cosmetic or other skin products can irritate the skin and cause inflammation on the face and lips.
- Syphilis: This is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that typically causes sores around the genitals, anus, and face.
- Oral cancer: The chances of a lip blister being cancerous are unlikely, but the lining of the mouth may have patchy pigmentation or white spots, with small ulcers around the mouth and lips that do not heal.
Find out more about all types of mouth pain here.
Other symptoms of lip blisters vary depending on the cause.
Symptoms of a cold sore may include a burning, itching, or tingling sensation that occurs before the cold sore appears. The wounds may ooze pus that crusts and forms crusts that last 5–15 days. They can recur throughout a person’s life.
A cancerous sore is a small, round, painful sore that develops on moving parts of the mouth such as the lips and tongue.
Milia and mucoceles are usually harmless cysts that have no other symptoms. However, if a mucocele is particularly large or comes back, a doctor may need to remove the salivary gland that is causing the cyst.
Syphilis is an STI that can have other symptoms such as fever, fatigue, and muscle pain.
Allergic contact dermatitis can also cause itching and rashes on the face.
Learn about other types of lip spots here.
Treatment for lip blisters depends on their cause. Some causes are harmless and do not require treatment, such as milia and mild mucoceles. Sunburn blisters usually heal on their own, but people should take care not to tear the blister and keep it clean to avoid infection.
However, there are cosmetic treatments available to remove cysts on the skin if they are of concern.
Some options for removing a cyst on the lip are:
- Cryotherapy, which involves freezing the cyst in order to remove it
- Laser treatment
If a bacterial infection is causing the cyst or bladder, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics.
Viral infections such as cold sores can get better on their own without treatment. However, taking over-the-counter (OTC) antiviral medications could help speed up the healing process.
The best way for a person to prevent allergic reactions is to avoid irritants whenever possible. This can involve some trial and error trying to determine how and when the skin reacts to certain products. For example, lipsticks, skin creams or laundry detergents may contain formulations that make sensitive skin worse.
Some OTC medications can help relieve pain or relieve symptoms of a fever. Anti-inflammatory drugs can also relieve pain and swelling around the lips.
Learn how to treat infected blisters here.
If someone is bothered by a blister or cyst and wants immediate relief, there are some steps they can take at home to alleviate some symptoms.
For sunburn blisters, the American Academy of Dermatology Association (ADA) suggests:
- with moisturizers with aloe vera
- Drink plenty of water
- Avoid popping or touching the bubbles
- with sunscreen while it heals
For cold sores, the ADA recommends:
- with ice pack or suck ice chips
- Avoid spicy or acidic foods
- Apply a clean, cold, damp towel to the sores for up to 10 minutes
- Applying petroleum jelly to the wounds
A person can use these home remedies for other types of blisters and sores, such as canker sores. However, if symptoms persist or worsen, they should speak to a doctor.
Learn about 5 other ways to treat a blister.
Some blisters, such as milia or mild mucoceles, are harmless and usually do not require medical attention. Other conditions like sunburns and cold sores can be painful, but they usually clear up on their own.
A person should speak to a doctor about their symptoms if they are persistent or worsen. If a bacterial infection is causing the bladder or cold sores take longer than 2 weeks to heal, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics or antiviral drugs. Some people may also want to see a doctor to have a cyst removed cosmetically.
People with allergies may find that talking to a doctor will help them figure out what is irritating their lips. A doctor may also request a patch test to see if a substance is causing an allergic reaction on the skin.
Cancer is rarely the cause of lip blisters. However, a person should speak to a doctor if they experience symptoms such as:
- Sore throat
- painful sores in the mouth, lips and throat
- red or white spots in the mouth
- Difficulty speaking, eating, or swallowing
- Difficulty moving your jaw or tongue
- Swelling of the jaw and mouth
- Numbness of the mouth and tongue
Find out more about oral cancer here.
A blister on the lip can have many causes, including viral infections, allergies, or trauma. It can occur with other symptoms such as swelling or fever. The appearance, location, and other symptoms associated with the lip blister will determine the cause.
Treating blisters on the lip may include taking antibiotics or antivirals to clear bacterial and viral infections. If a person is in pain while eating and drinking, OTC pain relievers can help reduce discomfort.
Anyone who has a persistent blister that does not heal should speak to a doctor or other health care professional.