Lips help us communicate with the world. However, certain different medical conditions can affect their structure and appearance. As they are one of the first things that other people notice in our face, any change or discoloration or new appearance on our lips can be very confusing and depressing. It can lower our confidence and self-esteem.
White spots on the lips can be found as a single spot or gathered in a form of patches. They can be painful causing also a burning and itching sensation on the lips or even painless. They can also vary in size from little or tiny to a bigger size. White spots can also be flat or raised. No matter from their size, condition and shape, no one wants to have these white spots on the lips. Any white spot on the lips requires medical attention. It could be something harmless, but it could also result from something more serious that requires proper treatment.
Both upper and lower lip can be affected by various medical conditions. They affect anyone no matter of their sex, age and race. White spots on the lips are due to different viral or bacterial infections, sexually transmitted diseases, allergic reactions, skin diseases, exposure to certain chemicals and toxins, but also many other systemic disorders. The most common causes of white spots on lips include:
Contact Allergy – many people are allergic to make up products. Certain chemicals that can be found on lipsticks, lip glosses or other make up products irritate the mucosa of the lips leading to the creation of white spots. Contact allergy is also often accompanied with a burning and itching sensation on the lips, peeling of the lips, etc. Avoiding these make up products is the most important thing in order to heal and prevent further recurrence of these white spots on the lips. In more severe allergic reactions, corticosteroids and antihistamines are necessary.
Sunburn – excessive exposure to the sun can damage our skin as well as our lips. Especially dangerous is exposure in tanning salons. Too much exposure to UV sunlight leads to the change of lips color, leading to appearance of white spots on the lips. However, in most of the cases these white spots that have shown up in our lips during the summer usually resole spontaneously without any treatment. Avoiding intensive exposure to the sun is recommended, accompanied by the use of vitamin E gels and plenty of water daily in order to get rid of these white spots on the lips as soon as possible.
Bacterial Infections – are very common among people, especially affecting the one with poor personal hygiene. Bacterial infections of the lips are also more common among people who share their products of personal hygiene with others. Except the change of the lip color, bacterial infections are also manifested with other signs and symptoms like pain, burning and itching sensation on the lips. Treatment usually requires the use of topic antibiotics and analgesics in order to help the lips heal faster.
Cold Sores – result mostly from viral infections that affect the lips, like a viral infection with the Herpes Simplex Virus. Cold sores are very contagious. The blisters are small in the beginning, very painful and even pulsating. These blisters are filled with a fluid that resolves spontaneously or with therapy. These blisters appear from time to time on our lips, as the virus remains in a dormant stage in the nerves of our body. Antiviral treatment like Acyclovir is necessary in order to help heal the blisters faster.
Canker Sores – are painful small ulcers on the lips that cause white or yellowish small patches up to 1 cm or even smaller. They can appear not only on the lips, but also on the cheeks and the mouth. They are not dangerous and usually heal on their own within a week or two. However, they can be very painful for couple of days.
Fordyce’s Spots – are usually small granules or sebaceous prominence found on the lips. Their color varies from pale red to yellowish – white and even in the color of the skin. They affect both men and women. Fordyce’s spots are sebaceous glands developed in the wrong place, not in the hair follicle as they should do. They are not associated with any disease. These spots are mostly a cosmetic concern as people who have them are not very happy about it. Fordyce’s spots do not require treatment as they are a normal physiological appearance, which are not dangerous for the health. However, many people find them very stressful and require their removal. Fordyce’s spots are removed with the help of electro desiccation, pulsed dye laser or micro-punch technique.
Lip Cancer – white spots caused by a lip cancer in the beginning are of the same nature as when caused by another benign reason. However, in cases of lip cancer these white spots don’t go away after a few days or weeks, even with treatment. Over the time, these white spots will ulcerate, bleed and even get infected. Lip cancer is diagnosed with a biopsy analysis of a tissue taken from the lip. Treatment in cases of lip cancer depends from the severity of the lesion, its nature and the phase when the disease has been diagnosed. Primary treatment methods for lip cancer include radiotherapy and surgical removal of the malignant tissue.
Repeated trauma to the lips – frequent and repeated trauma to the lips may also lead to its change in color and appearance of the white spots. These physical injuries or frequent biting of the lips will lead to ulcerations and changes of the skin. Avoiding the repeated trauma to the lips, will help them heal and prevent further damage.
Keep in mind that any change on the structure, color or shape of your lips should be seen by a health care specialist. Usually these changes and white spots on the lips are harmless. However, in very rare cases they can result from something more serious.