What are White Spots on Lips

We use our lips to communicate with the world. Usually, our lips are in top shape. Clean, moist, and ready to communicate. However, every now and then, a skin problem can affect the lips, and you might notice symptoms like white spots on lips.

These bumps and spots can have an effect on our self-confidence. You might try to conceal the spots while talking to people, but that is not a solution.

Most of these white spots on lips are not concerning, but in rare cases, they might be an early sign of oral cancer.

With that in mind, it is important to know the causes and treatments for white spots on lips.

Causes of white spots on lips

As mentioned previously, in most cases, the cause of white spots on lips is not something to worry about.

Here are all the conditions that can cause white spots.

Fordyce spots

This is the most common cause of white spots, and it manifests as harmless and tiny white bumps inside the lips [1]https://www.healthline.com/health/fordyce-spots.

They are visible sebaceous or oil-producing glands and tend to get bigger as you get older. You might have one small bump or as many as 100 bumps on your lips.

There is no cure for Fordyce spots [2]http://www.aocd.org/?page=FordyceSpots. Laser treatment might eliminate the spots, but often people use anti-sebum creams to reduce the appearance of the annoying spots.

Herpes simplex

Oral herpes is one of the most annoying things you might experience.

It is harmless, but it is very annoying. Herpes will cause white bumps on your lips [3]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC385996/.

In the beginning, they appear as small sores, but then become blistered and fluid-filled as time goes on. You can treat these white spots with antiviral oral and topical medications [4]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10547406.

Canker sores

A painful ulcer, canker sores can cause either white or yellow patches on the mouth, lips, and cheeks [5]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7825393 .  They are usually 1cm or smaller in diameter.

They do not cause cancer, and they are not dangerous. However, they can be very uncomfortable. Bad news for women, they are more susceptible to canker sores.

It is not necessary to seek medical attention for canker sores [6]https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070322161029.htm.

In most cases, they go away on their own within a two week periods. Avoid irritants in the first few days, as they can be very sensitive.


This condition is common in babies [7]https://study.com/academy/lesson/milia-definition-causes-treatment.html.

Milia appears as small and white bumps, and it occurs when dead skin cells become trapped in the skin [8]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5228532/.

The condition mostly appears on the face, but the lips can be an area of effect as well.


The skin condition causes loss of pigmentation in different areas of the body [9]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3764764/.

The lips can become affected as well. Vitiligo is a progressive disorder, which means it can spread to the rest of the body if left untreated.

The cause of vitiligo is unknown, but some experts believe it is a result of an autoimmune disorder and disease [10]https://www.umassmed.edu/vitiligo/blog/.

Topical steroid therapy, depigmentation, and photo chemotherapy are the treatment options for vitiligo.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is one of the serious conditions that can cause white spots on lips [11]http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/mouth-cancer.

The white bump starts as a flat texture on the face. It is painless at the beginning, but it will eventually start to bleed or ulcerate. Sun exposure, tobacco use, alcohol abuse, and the HPV virus are common causes of oral cancer.

Treatment is the same as with other cancer types. That includes either radiation or chemotherapy. In some cases, both might be used.

Oral thrush

Thrush is a fungal infection that can affect the lips as well [12]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4681845/.

Oral thrush can cause white spots on lips, gums, tonsils, or the mouth. Candida is the common fungus that can cause oral thrush. In most cases, the thrush is not a serious problem [13]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4312689/.

Consuming probiotics might help with the problem and clear away the white spots on lips.

Diagnosis and when to seek medical attention

As mentioned previously, in most cases, white spots on lips are harmless. However, there are situations when you need to seek medical attention.

A physician will talk with you about your medical history, or conduct a physical exam to view the bumps on your lips. He will check for swelling in problematic areas, and might even swab your lip for a procedure known as culture.

A lab test will show if there are any bacteria, viruses, or fungi causing white spots on lips.

In any case, you should seek medical help when you notice any of the following symptoms accompanying white spots:

  • Bumps are painful
  • Jaw or neck swelling
  • Bumps are bleeding
  • Fever or sore throat
  • Trouble swallowing and chewing
  • Numbness of your tongue

If the bumps last for more than two weeks, you should definitely make an appointment with your doctor.

Treatment depends on the cause of the symptoms. And of course, you can always look for some home and natural remedies for white spots on lips.

Home remedies for white spots on lips


All you need for this remedy is two garlic cloves, a tablespoon of lemon juice, and a cup of water. Crush the garlic cloves, and then blend with water and lemon juice.

Drink the beverage before or after your meals. You should optimally drink three glasses of this beverage per day.

Garlic will help you get rid of bacteria in your body, which might be the cause for the white spots [14]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4332239/ [15]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10594976.

Apple cider vinegar

For this remedy, you need few drops of apple cider vinegar, water, and a cotton swab [16]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1785201/.

Mix equal parts of ACV and water, and then apply the mixture on your lips using a cotton swab.

Let it stay for few minutes, and then rinse with lukewarm water.

Repeat no more than two times per week.

Remember, if you notice irritation or burning sensation, do not repeat the treatment and rinse off immediately.

Coconut oil

You should mix coconut oil with an essential oil for maximum benefits.

Few drops of lavender will work the best, and you can mix with two tablespoons of coconut oil.

Wash your hands, and then apply the mixture to the affected area with your fingers.

Let it stay for few hours, and then rinse with lukewarm water.

The good news is that you can store the remaining part of the mixture in a container.

Repeat the treatment two times per day.

Essential oils

Speaking of essential oils, lavender is not the only one that works for white spots on lips. You can create your own home antiviral, antimicrobial, and anti-fungal solution.

You will need 2 drops of each tea tree oil, benzoin oil, and cabreuva oil.

Mix with one tablespoon of olive oil and Scotch pine essential oil.

Blend the oils, and apply on white spots using your fingers.

Let it sit for several minutes, and then clean with lukewarm water.

Repeat once or twice per day until there are no more symptoms.


This is probably the simplest home remedy for white spots on lips. All you need is buttermilk and a cotton ball. Dip the ball in buttermilk, and then apply on your lips.

Let it dry naturally, and then rinse with lukewarm water. You can repeat the treatment two to three times per day.

Buttermilk will help soothe the inflammation that is causing white spots on lips.

Bonus tips

  • Fruit juices made of lemon and orange help reduce the spots
  • Always apply treatment for white spots on lips as soon as you notice the problem
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid your lips becoming dry and dehydrated. Dry lips are more prone to white spots, and the spots will stay for longer
  • Consume food rich in folic acid to reduce the appearance of white spots and prevent them from appearing in the first place
  • Be cautious of your oral hygiene. While poor oral hygiene is not a cause of white spots, proper hygiene will help you get rid of them faster. Always keep your mouth clean
  • Foods rich in vitamins A, B complex, C K, and E help with elimination of white spots and prevent them in the first place

References   [ + ]

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