Lip bumps can sometimes be painful or uncomfortable, but they are often harmless and will clear up without treatment. 

Visually, lip bumps can range from red and irritated to flesh-toned and barely noticeable to anyone but you. From an allergic reaction to oral cancer, there are many possible causes of lip bumps.

Lip bumps can sometimes be painful or uncomfortable, but they are often harmless and will clear up without treatment.

What causes bumps on lips?

Recognizing potential causes of lip bumps can help you determine if a condition is cause for concern or simply a harmless skin variation.

Bumps on the lips can range in size, color, and texture. Causes may include acute and chronic conditions. Examples of causes of bumps on the lips include:

  • allergic reaction
  • bacterial infections
  • canker sores or cold sores
  • Fordyce granules, which are harmless white spots
  • hand, foot, and mouth disease
  • milia, which are tiny benign cysts, or “milk spots”
  • mucoceles, or bumps that form when the salivary glands are blocked
  • oral cancer
  • oral herpes
  • oral thrush
  • perioral dermatitis, a face rash due to skin irritation

While many lip bumps are harmless, conditions like oral cancer can have serious health risks.

When to see a doctor

Most lip bumps are not a cause for concern, and many types go away on their own without treatment.

However, a person should see a doctor if they have:

  • lip bumps that persist for several weeks without healing
  • itchy or irritating bumps
  • mouth or face swelling
  • swallowing or breathing problems
  • lumps on the lips, gums, or mouth
  • bleeding, pain, or numbness of the lips, gums, or mouth
  • loss of teeth
  • voice changes
  • throat soreness
  • a fast-spreading rash

How are bumps on lips treated?

Treatment for bumps on the lips depends upon the cause. Doctors can prescribe medications to treat infections. These include antifungal and antiviral medications along with antibiotics.

Allergic reactions and dermatitis may be treated with antihistamine medications to reverse inflammatory reactions. These can include pills or creams to reduce discomfort.

While some conditions such as canker sores and oral herpes can be treated, they can’t be permanently cured. You may get them again at a future time.

Oral cancer can involve more extensive treatments, like surgery to remove the cancerous lesion.

Further medications and radiation treatments may be needed to prevent the cancer from spreading.