Maybe it started as a red spot. Maybe it started as a bump. Maybe it was just an itchy or painful area. However it started, now it has developed into a blister, and you are concerned. Not only is having a blister on your lip uncomfortable, but it can also be embarrassing and unsightly. You probably want to get rid of your blister as soon as possible, but not all blisters respond to the same treatments. If you really want to treat a blister on your lip and avoid future blisters, you’ll need to find out what has caused the blister to develop. So, what are the possible causes of blisters on your lip and what can you do about them?
Cold Sore or Not A Cold Sore?
When you think of blisters on the lip, it’s likely at some point that either your mind or an internet search will lead you to consider if it might be a cold sore. Also called a fever blister, a cold sore is a type of infection caused by a form of the herpes simplex virus. Cold sores generally begin as one or more small blisters that break open and crust over. They can break out more often if you are developing another illness (hence the name fever blisters). They are highly contagious and can be spread by direct contact (like kissing), sharing lip balms, drinking from the same cup, or even touching your cold sore, then touching another surface and contaminating it with the virus. They can sometimes resemble canker sores, so if you’re not sure which it is, visit your doctor or dentist for help diagnosing your blister.
What Can Be Done About Cold Sores/Fever Blisters?
There are some over the counter remedies and some prescription medications that can help your cold sores clear up faster while you are having an outbreak. Unfortunately, once you have the virus, it sticks around and can flare up without much in the way of warning. It’s really important to take precautions against spreading cold sores when you have an active or developing sore.
Sunshine and Blister Risk
It’s easy to forget, but your lips are covered with skin and, as such, are susceptible to sunburn. Just like a really bad sunburn on your back can lead to blisters and pain, a really bad sunburn on your lips can blister up and cause real pain. When you consider that the skin on your lips is thinner than other skin, you can understand why it’s possible to get a sunburn there. It’s also likely that you skip putting chemical sunscreen on your lips out of fear of ingesting it, because you forget to put it on your lips, or simply because you don’t want to taste it. Long-term sun exposure on your lips is serious, however, and can lead to a condition called actinic cheilitis. Actinic cheilitis usually looks like flaky or scaly patches rather than a blister, but it’s nothing to ignore. Untreated, it can develop into squamous cell cancer.
What Can Be Done for Sun Blisters?
An ounce of prevention is still worth a pound of cure. Be sure to wear a lip balm with an SPF of 30 to prevent lip sunburns. Babies may be particularly vulnerable to burns, so be sure to keep an eye on the young ones while outdoors. Also, don’t forget that cold weather does not mean sunburn-free weather. Many a day on the ski slope has ended with a bad burn. If it’s too late and you have a blistering sunburn on your lip, treat as you would any other sunburn: moisturize, aloe, ice or cool compresses, and stay hydrated.
Pressured? Mucous Cysts
Sometimes, a blockage of your salivary gland (the part of your mouth that makes and releases saliva), can cause a blister to develop on your lip. Mucous cysts, also called mucoceles, are soft raised, round bumps that most often develop on your lower lip. They can range from blue to white in color. They usually happen following some kind of injury or irritation to your lip, like biting, piercing, chewing on the lip or cheek, or chronic irritation from rubbing against misaligned teeth. They can be painless, or they can be uncomfortable. Although they are not dangerous to your long-term health or contagious, it’s a good idea to have them checked out and treated by your doctor or dentist sooner than later.
What Can Be Done for A Mucocele?
It is possible that a mucous cyst will clear up on its own. A larger cyst will probably need treatment from your doctor to clear up. Common procedures used to shrink or remove a cyst are laser removal, steroid injections, and freezing (cryotherapy). It’s also important to stop any behavior habits—like chewing on the lip—that might have caused or aggravated the cyst.
At the end of the day, any blister on your lip is worth careful evaluation. If you have the slightest concern or at all unsure about what is causing a lip blister or what to do for a blister, visit your dental care team or your primary care team for help. That’s what they do, and they want to help you.