- Common Locations of the White Spots
- Causes of White Spots on the Lips
- Fordyce Spots
- Treatment of Fordyce spots
- White spots due to Human Papilloma virus infection – HPV
- Treatment of Oral HPV
- Treatment of milia
- Oral thrush
- Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
- White spots caused by oral cancer
- Canker sores
- Causes of Canker sores
- White raised spot due to lip pimple
- Management of White Spots on lips
White spots on the lips can be a harmless or a symptom of a harmful illness. However, the lips are some of the most important parts cosmetically and are some of the most noticeable aspects of a person.
As such, persons with white spots on the lips tend to be self-conscious and the spots could lower their self-esteem, whether the spots are harmful or not .
The spots differ in appearance and morphology.
The differences serve as a basis for differentiating them and diagnosing the illnesses of which they are a symptom, if any.
Some are painful and others painless.
Image 1: An example of a white spot (Canker sores)
Picture Source: Wikipedia
Common Locations of the White Spots
- Areas around the lips
- Inside the lips
- Corners of the lips
- Vermilion border
- Upper lip
- Lower lip
- Some are not specific to the lips and may be found on other parts of the body 
Causes of White Spots on the Lips
Presence of White spots on lips can be due to:
- Side effects of products used
- Low levels of personal hygiene 
- Also referred to as Fordyce granules or sebaceous prominence
- Fordyce spots are small in size, their color ranges from white to yellowish, and are pimple-like.
- They are commonly found on the oral mucosa and the vermilion border – The sharp demarcation between the normal body skin and the red-colored region the lips . They colonize both upper and lower lips.
- They are not specific to the lips and may be found on the inner surface of cheeks, tonsils, labia, penis, or scrotum. They appear on a sebaceous gland that lacks hair follicle .
Picture 2 : Fordyce spots
Image Source : fordycespotsforum.com
- Fordyce spots are not attributed to medical condition.
- They are painless and harmless.
- Should not be taken as a sign of sexually transmitted infection or cancer
- Affect both genders
- Tend to be larger with age
Treatment of Fordyce spots
- Electro desiccation
- Micro-punch technique
- Pulsed dye lasers
- Anti-sebum creams or ointments
- Chemical peels
- However, doctors discourage treating Fordyce spots
White spots due to Human Papilloma virus infection – HPV
- White spots on the lips could also be caused by HPV infection.
- Some of the strains of HPV are associated with various types of cancer e.g. vaginal, cervical, anal, mouth and oropharyngeal cancers.
- HPV can be transmitted via intimate skin-to-skin contact such as: anal, vaginal, or oral sex with an infected person .
Photo 3 : Lip warts caused by HPV
Image Source : www.clinicaladvisor.com
- Warts due to oral HPV occur on the lips or anywhere inside the oral cavity.
- The spots are white in color, dome or flat –shaped and may appear as small, spiked projections.
- Painless unless irritated
Treatment of Oral HPV
- There is no cure for HPV but sometimes it disappears spontaneously .
- HPV vaccines reduce the risk of getting genital and cervical cancers.
- The vaccines, however, have not been proved to work against oral cancer caused by oral HPV infections .
- These are tiny, hard, white bumps that keep disappearing and recurring 
- Mainly occur on the face
- Caused by trapped skin cells that were meant to be shed off 
- Common among babies because their oil gland is still developing 
- However, it may occur in teens and adults as well.
- Milia have also been attributed to sun damage, lip care products, and reaction to toothpaste.
Image 4 : Infant with milia
Picture Source : skinsight.com
Treatment of milia
- Retinol creams 
- Do not remove them forcefully since it may cause scarring 
- Caused by fungal infection caused by Candida albicans 
- The spots are creamy and may appear on lips, oral cavity, tonsils or the gum
- May be patchy
Picture 5 : Oral candidiasis – White patchy lips
Photo Source : Wikipedia.com
- People using corticosteroids, antibiotics or birth control pills are more vulnerable
- Illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, HIV and anemia compromise immunity and also predispose the patient to the infections 
- Pregnancy and organ transplants are also risk factors
- Antifungal medications 
- Can be controlled by managing illnesses such as diabetes properly.
Herpes simplex virus (HSV)
- The spots are painful, white, itchy, and bumpy
- Appear as blisters on the lips
- HSV is contagious and is transmitted through skin contact 
Figure 6: Herpes blister on the lower lip
Picture Source: wikipedia
- Oral and antiviral medication
White spots caused by oral cancer
- Initially, they appear as white, flat spots on the lip that begin to ulcerate in latter stages.
- The spots then grow, harden and don’t heal
Picture 7 : Lower lip cancerous white bump
Image Source: healcure.org
- Genetics, excessive drinking, smoking, and HPV infections are risk factors 
- Surgical removal of the tumor, chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy
- These are painful, burning ulcerative patches that are round in shape .
- Color ranges from white to gray to pale yellow with red edges
Photo 7 : Canker sores inside lower lip
Picture Source: healcure.org
Causes of Canker sores
- Allergic reactions to elements in food
- Suppressed immune system
- Tissue trauma
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Cohn’s and celiac diseases have also been associated with canker sores 
- Usually heal with no medication .
- In chronic cases a doctor could prescribe antimicrobial mouth rinse, corticosteroid ointment, or OTC 
- Vitiligo is a medical condition in which the melanocytes fail to produce melanin leading to white patches on the skin 
- Cause unknown but researchers have linked it with an autoimmune disease, heredity and cancer [1, 9]
- They are more of white patches rather than white spots
Image 8 : Vitiligo patches on lips
Photo Source: md-health.com
- Steroid therapy
- Skin grafting
- Skin graft
- Melanocyte transplant
- Psoralen photohemotherapy
White raised spot due to lip pimple
- A pimple on the lips can cause a white dot on the lip.
Picture 9 : White spot on lip due to pimple
Image Source: pimplestap.com
- Varies depending on the cause of the acne
- These are malignant tumors of the connective tissue
- They form from lumps within the mouth
- Attributed to trauma from lip biting and teeth grinding
- Can be pink, or whitish in color
Image 10 : Fibroma white raised spot on inner lip
Photo Source: healcure.com
- Surgical removal
Management of White Spots on lips
- Do not scratch the spots on the lips. It could cause an infection .
- Rinse the lip with warm and salty water. Swish it then spit
- See a doctor if the spots on the lips bleed, lead to swelling of the neck and jaw, make the tongue numb, or make swallowing difficulty [1, 9].
- Heal Cure. White Spots on Lips Pictures, Small, on Lower, Upper, Inside, Lip Corner Causes Cancer, HPV & Cure [Internet]. 2015 [cited 18 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.healcure.org/lip/lip-bumps-spots/white-spots-on-lips-causes-pictures-small-on-lower-upper-inside-lip/
- Lee J, Lee J, Kwon N, Yu D, Kim G, Park C et al. Clinicopathologic Manifestations of Patients with Fordyce’s Spots. Annals of Dermatology [Internet]. 2012 [cited 18 January 2016];24(1):103. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3283840/
- 14. RA M. [Fordyce’s spots: disease, heterotopia or adenoma? Histological and ultrastructural study]. – PubMed – NCBI [Internet]. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. 2016 [cited 18 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6943138
- 15. Weiss A, Dym H. Oral lesions caused by human papillomavirus [Internet]. Clinical Advisor. 2011 [cited 18 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.clinicaladvisor.com/cmece-features/oral-lesions-caused-by-human-papillomavirus/article/193918/
- Kunin A. Milia [Internet]. DERMAdoctor Blog. 2012 [cited 18 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.dermadoctor.com/blog/milia/
- Skinsight.com. Milia in an Infant or Baby: Condition, Treatment and Pictures – Overview | skinsight [Internet]. 2016 [cited 18 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.skinsight.com/infant/milia.htm
- Nhs.uk. Oral thrush in adults – NHS Choices [Internet]. 2016 [cited 18 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Oral-thrush—adults/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- Oralcancer.org. The Oral Cancer Foundation [Internet]. 2016 [cited 18 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.oralcancer.org/
- Md-health.com. White Spots on Lips | MD-Health.com [Internet]. 2016 [cited 18 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.md-health.com/White-Spots-On-Lips.html
- Mayoclinic.org. Vitiligo Causes – Mayo Clinic [Internet]. 2016 [cited 18 January 2016]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vitiligo/basics/causes/con-20032007