There are many reasons for a spot on the lip, including acne, moles, angiomas, milia, or cold sores. Depending on the cause, the spot may be raised or flat, and the color may range from white to red or brown.

Some people have spots around the lips from birth, while others may develop them later on. This can happen for a range of reasons.

In this article, we discuss the potential causes for a spot on the lip, and the possible treatment options.

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Acne, or pimples, can occur near or on the lips. It occurs when pores become clogged with debris or oil. If bacteria becomes trapped inside, this can cause inflammation, resulting in a red bump. The pimple may be sore or tender, and may develop a white or yellow center due to a build-up of pus.


Acne does not always need treatment. However, if a person wants to manage their acne, options include:

Learn more about acne treatment here.

A mole is a slightly raised brown mark, slightly larger than a freckle. They are usually tan or brown in color.

Most moles are benign, meaning they are not cancerous. However, if moles change in size or appearance, or keep bleeding, it can sometimes indicate skin cancer.


Benign moles do not necessarily need treatment. However, a person may want to treat it for cosmetic reasons. Doctors may also suggest removal if there is concern the mole might be cancerous. Options include:

  • excision
  • shave biopsy
  • laser

This is a highly contagious skin infection, most commonly seen in children. There are two types of impetigo:

  • Non-bullous: This is the most common type and starts with itchy sores. These sores burst, and glands nearby can become swollen. At this point, they crust over and heal. The infections can spread to other areas of the body.
  • Bullous: This type of impetigo presents as fluid-filled blisters. These will become limp, and crusty sores appear, after which the skin heals.

Without treatment, impetigo usually resolves in a few weeks with no scarring. However, there is a risk of developing a condition called ecthyma, a more serious, deeper infection.


With impetigo being so contagious, a person must seek treatment if they suspect they have it. Treatment typically includes an antibiotic that a person applies to the skin.

Perioral dermatitis causes a rash of small bumps around the lips. The rash can be itchy or cause a burning sensation.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), medical professionals are not certain what causes perioral dermatitis, but they know it is not contagious.


Treatments will vary depending on the person. A person can switch to milder skincare products, or use prescribed antibiotics or different medications.

Cherry angiomas are small ruby-red, slightly raised spots. Although they can appear anywhere on the body, they commonly appear on the face, lip, torso, and scalp.


Cherry angiomas are usually harmless, but some people seek treatment to remove them for cosmetic reasons. The options include:

  • cryotherapy, which freezes off the angiomas
  • vascular laser, which targets blood vessels in the skin
  • electrosurgery, which uses an electrical current to cut the tissue

Healthcare professionals will also remove cherry angiomas to exclude different, malignant skin lesions known as nodular melanoma.

A venous lake is a small soft blueish lump, which can be either flat or dome-shaped. They typically appear on the lower lip, and are more common among older adults.

Medical professionals are unsure of what causes venous lakes.


A person may want to treat a venous lake for cosmetic reasons. If so, options include:

  • cryotherapy
  • sclerotherapy, where a medical professional injects a solution to shrink blood vessels
  • electrocautery
  • intense pulsed light, a type of light therapy
  • vascular laser

Healthcare professionals do not usually remove venous lakes surgically, as this can leave a scar.

A milium, or milk spot, is a tiny cyst that often looks like a white pearl under the skin. They can look similar to small whiteheads, but they do not come with inflammation.

Milia frequently occur in babies, but they can appear in adults too. They often develop on the face.


Milia do not need treatment, as they can resolve by themselves. However, if a person wants to remove them, a healthcare professional can do this by:

  • making a tiny incision to drain or extract them
  • performing electrocautery
  • prescribing topical retinoids

Cold sores are blisters that often appear around the mouth. They occur due to herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which is common worldwide.

People may notice their skin tingling, itching, or burning for a day or so before the blisters appear. The cold sore then develops, which may be painful. After a few days, the blister opens and fluid drains.


Although there is no cure for herpes simplex, treatment can reduce the duration of symptoms. An antiviral cream can relieve tingling, itching, or burning.

It is also important to take steps to prevent the spread of HSV-1. Avoid touching the cold sore, and wash the hands before and after applying antiviral products.

Learn more about how to treat a cold sore here.

Warts are growths of the skin that occur due to human papillomavirus (HPV). Filiform warts are small, long, and narrow. They often develop on a person’s lips, eyes, face, or neck.


There are many ways to treat a wart, but it depends on various factors, such as location, how long a person has had it, and their medical history.

Learn more about treatment for filiform warts here.

HFMD is a viral infection that causes fever, mouth sores, and a skin rash. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this disease is most common in children under 5 years old.

Cases of HFMD are usually mild, and nearly all people recover within 7 to 10 days without any medical treatment.


There is no specific medical treatment for HFMD. However, a person can use over-the-counter pain or fever medications. Speak with a pharmacist about child-safe products, and do not give a child aspirin.

It is also important to drink enough water. Mouth sores can make it painful to swallow, which may result in children not drinking enough.

Contact a doctor if a child:

  • cannot drink enough
  • has signs of dehydration
  • is very young, especially if they are under 6 months old
  • has severe symptoms or does not get better in 10 days

If a person has itchy red spots all over the body that include a spot on the lip, they may have chickenpox. This is a highly contagious disease that occurs due to the varicella zoster virus (VZV).


There is no cure for chickenpox once a child has it, but most symptoms will pass on their own in between 4 and 7 days. In the meantime, people can manage the symptoms by using:

  • cool baths to soothe itchiness
  • calamine lotion
  • acetaminophen

It is important not to give children aspirin to ease their symptoms, as this has serious health risks.

Keeping the nails cut short can help prevent scratching. If a person has scratched a bump, they should wash the hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. VZV is very contagious, and can be serious in people who have not had the virus before, or have weakened immune systems.

The best way to prevent chickenpox is for a person to have the vaccine.

Rarely, a bump on the lip could be lip cancer. This is a form of oral cancer that will affect 0.1% of people during their lifetime, according to data from between 2017 and 2019.

Lip cancer can appear in many ways. It may look similar to a pimple, scar, or sore. It can also caused discolored or raised patches of skin, growths, or thickened skin.

Symptoms may include bleeding, pain, or numbness.


Treatment for lip cancer can depend on the type of tumor, its size, location, and a person’s age and overall health. Treatment options can include different types of surgery, radiation, and topical medications.

Many of the potential causes of a spot on the lip are harmless. However, some causes do require treatment. If a person is unsure what is causing the spot and it does not get better on its own, they should speak with a doctor.

If any of the following symptoms develop, seek immediate medical attention:

  • high fever
  • neck stiffness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • sensitivity to light
  • swelling in or around the mouth
  • difficulty breathing
  • rapid heart rate
  • difficulty staying awake
  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness

There are many causes of a blemish on the lip, such as acne, milia, and cherry angiomas. Many are not serious, and may not need any treatment.

Others, such as cold sores or chickenpox, may benefit from treatments that ease uncomfortable symptoms until they go away. Some people may also choose to have treatments for cosmetic reasons to remove skin features, such as moles.

It is important for a person to seek medical attention if a spot appears suddenly, comes with concerning symptoms, or begins changing in size, shape, or color.