7 Causes of White Dots on Lips (with Pictures)

White dots on lips can be cosmetically distressing. They can be small or white patches and are often harmless. However, some require medical attention.

Symptoms of white spots on the lips may be small white patches or large patches that cover the entire lips and lessen the color of the lips. They are often harmless, but should not be ignored as it may be due to a life threatening illness. Understanding some of the causes linked to white spots on the lips may be beneficial in order to obtain timely treatment.

Types of White Spots on Lips

Fordyce Spots

Small, white spots ranging in diameter from 1mm to 3 mm may be due to Fordyce spots or Fordyce granules. These spots are painless and harmless, although they cause concern due to cosmetic reasons. There is no known cause for these spots, although it is believed to occur due to trapped oil in the sebaceous glands on the skin.

Treatments. Fordyce spots have no cure, although laser treatment may help eliminate the spots on the lips. Apart from this, anti-sebum creams and ointments and chemical peels may help reduce the appearance of these annoying spots.


Canker Sores

Canker sores are a painful ulcer that will cause a white or yellow patch, 1cm or smaller, to appear on the mouth, inner lips or cheeks. These sores do not cause cancer and are not dangerous, but can be very uncomfortable. Women tend to be more susceptible to canker sores than men.

Treatments. In most cases it is not necessary to seek a doctor’s advice for a canker sore, for they typically fade within two weeks. But they can be quite sensitive for a few days, so you should avoid irritants such as spicy foods. You can dab them with a mixture of equal parts water and hydrogen peroxide.



This is a skin condition that causes the loss of pigmentation in various areas of the body and can affect the lips as well. This is a progressive disorder, which spreads to the rest of the body. Although the cause is not known, it is believed to be caused by an autoimmune disease. This condition may also be genetic and may be associated with skin cancer.

Treatments. Vitiligo can be treated with topical steroid therapy, psoralen photochemotherapy and depigmentation. Surgical therapies, such as, skin grafts, tattooing and autologous melanocyte transplants are also considered in treating this disease.



This is a viral infection caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). Herpes is infectious and spreads through skin-to-skin contact. This infection can cause itchy, painful, white spots on lips. Herpes is not curable, although the infection can be suppressed and the symptoms avoided.

Treatments. Herpes can be treated with antiviral oral and topical medications.


Mucous Cyst

These cysts cause pink or white sacs of fluid to appear on the lips, which are caused by biting, sucking or otherwise irritating the lip. In most cases these cysts are small and painless and should not cause additional complications. After a few days these cysts may rupture and release the fluid inside.

Treatments. If your cyst does not rupture on its own you can open it at home or visit the doctor. If you continue to irritate this area it may form a permanent bump which will only be able to be removed with surgery. You may need to alter your habits to prevent this from occurring.



Thrush refers to a yeast infection along the mucous membranes inside the mouth that causes velvety, white sores to appear all over the mouth. Conditions such as HIV, diabetes or other illnesses can make you susceptible to thrush. This condition is also more common in the elderly and infants.

Treatments. In most cases thrush is not serious, unless you are suffering from another condition that has compromised your immune system. Consuming yogurt that contains probiotics can help to clear away thrush. Rinsing the mouth with a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution can also help to reduce this growth.


Lip Cancer

Lips are a common area often afflicted with skin cancer. Lip cancer is more common in males over the age of 50 than in women. This condition often goes undetected as it is mistaken for another illness. However, a biopsy can reveal the true condition. The most common cause of lip cancer is overexposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

Treatments. Lip cancer is treated in the same form of any other cancer depending on its stage. Treatment may involve radiation or chemotherapy or both.


Other Causes

White spots on lips may also be appear repeated trauma such as biting your lip or a physical injury to the face that can cause the skin to change or ulcers to form. In some cases acne can form around the lips that will cause blackheads or white heads to appear. In order to determine what type of spots you have developed you should have your condition examined by a professional so you can get the right treatment to maintain your health and return your appearance to normal.

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