White Spots on Upper, Lower or Inside Lips: Causes for Small, Patchy & Treatments 

Do you have white spots on lips, be it small, big ones, flat or patchy ones? Of course, there are many different reasons why you get the flat, patchy, big, or small dots on lips that are white. How do they look like in pictures? Have a closer look to find out more about causes, symptoms, early warning signs and when you have to book an appointment to see a doctor.

While white spots on lips have proven to be cosmetically disastrous some cosmetic lip products are what bring them about. Whether on lower or upper part, they can lower your confidence to express yourself freely. There are those which appear as flat cells and never go away. Such can be a sign of serious condition. If not treated, white patches can eventually lead to irreversible lip discoloration. Let us begin by looking at their causes.

Causes including around mouth

Having these spots whether they are tiny or large patches can be distressing. White spots, patches and lip discoloration may not only be symptoms of certain health conditions but also infections. Find out what causes these problems including patches inside lips and mouth.

Oral Cancer or white spots lip cancer

Also referred to as mouth cancer (oral cancer) is a condition that causes damage to tissue cells. This type of cancer can affect various part of your mouth including lips, tongue, under tongue or mouth floor, the palate (roof of the mouth), and throat. The inside part in particular, are affected.

Symptoms of oral cancer are quite tricky. At inception, the white bumps that form may cause no pain at all. When these bumps are exposed to aggravating conditions such as sun exposure, tobacco and alcohol, they begin to bleed and become a source of discomfort. Adding to that, the following outlined symptoms describe oral cancer behavior.

  • A small white spot on lips not raised,
  • Thick speckled white patch inside lips and in the mouth. Sometimes red in color,
  • Persistent sores that do not heal in two weeks’ time or (more than),
  • Unusual bleeding especially on mouth sores,
  • Sudden numbness and loss of feeling in mouth, inside cheeks, on roof of mouth, etc.
  • Getting a chronic painful sore throat leading to hoarseness in voice,
  • Difficulty in eating and swallowing,

Oral cancer can be controlled well if it is diagnosed and evaluated early enough when the signs have shown up at inception. But it is worth to prevent it as we shall a bit later in our discussion.

Oral thrush White patches in mouth

It is an infection caused by yeast germ of the Candida species. The Candida is a natural occurring skin fungus in small numbers. It is harmless. However, under certain conditions the Candida may overgrow leading to a mouth thrush. These factors include (but not least): excessive use of antibiotic medicines, compromised or poor immune system, vitamin deficiency (iron, folate & vitamin B-12), smoking, dry mouth, being diabetic, etc.

Oral thrush rarely causes these white colore spots or dots and neither is it due to poor body hygiene. Mild symptoms are marked by their formation. In severe cases the, spots may develop to larger whitish patches referred to as plaques.

More symptoms:-

  • Red cracked and moist areas of corner of lips,
  • Slight bleeding after scrapping the patches in mouth,
  • Poor feeding in infants said to be fussy and irritable,

Oral thrush is common in toddlers as old as 10 weeks, babies and small children but adults are not exceptional. It may recur in babies in between breastfeeding sessions but oral thrush is not contagious.

How is oral thrush treated?

A mild thrush infection should clear after a short time usually at moat 7 days. This is the expected duration for babies and who are healthy.

Under a severe candida infection, a diagnosis is required. Your doctor will then prescribe oral creams and gels to control growth and eliminate the fungus.

Is it canker sores?

Canker sores are “are small, shallow lesions that develop on the soft tissues in your mouth,” [mayoclinic.org] inside the lips or at the base of your gums. Canker sores can cause pain and make eating not enjoyable.

There is no exact cause of canker sores but a number of things contribute to them start forming. They include tissue injury through biting, use of dental appliances, or presence of sharp and broken teeth.  Other possible causes are consumption of acidic foods.

Before the sores appear there is a burning or tingling sensation in mouth. Common symptoms of common canker sores include: small or little white (painful) sores in the mouth and cheeks. (Sores may be surrounded by red border).

White spots on lips herpes – Cold sores?

Secondly, cold sores another common cause including on the nose. What actually causes them is a type of herpes virus HSV-1.Typically, cold sores appear mostly on the outside of lips and are very contagious. In contrast to canker sores, cold sores are due to a viral infection.

Modes of transmission of HSV-1 cold sore virus are kissing, oral sex, and sharing utensils with an infected people. According to Web MD, herpes virus type-1 and HSV-2 (genital herpes), may be triggered by certain foods, stress, fever, colds, allergies, sunburn, and menstruation.

Again before infection (that may last for up to 20 days), victims may experience itching sensation on lips or around the genital area.

White spots on lips HPV

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is an STD virus which normally causes genital warts and cancer of the cervix in female humans. HPV could be carried by partners who practice oral sex without them realizing for as many years of relationship. Why? They are very subtle and painless unless a biopsy test is carefully done and samples evaluated by a dental professional.

Symptoms of an oral HPV infection can imitate those of any oral cancer caused excessive consumption of alcohol.

Leukoplakia – large white spots

Do you have a large white spot on lower lip that is resistant to scrapping or brushing? If you have a clearly defined thick whitish patch that is slightly raised you should go for testing immediately. The patch could also be found on gums, inside cheek and on soft palate.

Common risk factors of this condition are excessive use of tobacco and alcoholism. Other reasons behind it include ill-fitting dentures, oral lichen planus, and vitamin deficiency.

This condition is noncancerous. However, it is precancerous is left untreated because research has revealed that white patches have a 20% chance of turning malignant or develop a cancer.


Normally, Vitiligo is a skin condition that results in loss of pigmentation. It is characterized by formation of milky-white patches in skin but this condition can also lead to loss of colour in the tissues lining the mouth (mucous membranes) and lips especially the lower one.

Many dermatologists believe it is caused by autoimmune diseases, thyroid disorders, and vitamin B-12 deficiency. It has been considered a genetic disorder too. Further research by American Vitiligo Research Foundation shine light on depigmentation which first develops on sun-exposed areas of skin including your hands, feet, arms, face and lips. Victims of vitiligo are affected more while in early 20s and 30s.
Unfortunately, if discolouration does not clear on its own, treating vitiligo is very difficult because predicting its natural occurrence is not easy a task.


There are “deep seeded white bumps that form when skin cells become trapped rather than exfoliate naturally. The trapped cells become walled off into tiny cysts that appear like white beads below the surface of the skin” [dermadoctor.com].

Milia can affect various part of the skin including mucous membranes including inner cheek surface and vermillion border of your lips.

Fordyce also pale yellow spots

What are fordyce spots and what causes these spots? They are harmless “small raised, pale red, yellow-white or skin-colored spots…” [medicalnewstoday.com] that appear on vermilion border or border between red-colored part of lip and skin, especially on upper one. They are also found on the shaft of penis and scrotum in males and the labia in female human beings.

What causes fordyce white spots

The main cause of Fordyce spots according to experts is due to abnormal secretion of greasy fat by the sebaceous glands. This is considered as a natural occurrence but, fordyce spots that appear as yellow spots on lip lines are not associated with any disease or infections.

Fordyce’s spots can be yellowish or white and may not be very clear if they take the skin color. Common symptoms that are helpful in identifying them include

  • Small pale yellow spots on lip boundary and adjacent normal skin of face,
  • Painless feeling to touch.

At times bleeding may occur on the bumps on the shaft of penis during or after sexual intercourse.

Fordyce white spots on lips should not be confused with an infection of Herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores and (fever blisters around your mouth or on face). It is advised that if you have these symptoms you go for thorough diagnosis and careful evaluation.

Treatment for those due to Fordyce granules is mainly for cosmetic purposes or satisfaction. Many health practitioners and experts discourage treatment of Fordyce spots. If you feel that they are a bit of an anxiety concern, here are some treatments offered by dermatologists and physicians. First though, talk to your doctor about your intentions to get rid of them.

  • Carbon IV oxide (CO2) laser,
  • Electro desiccation or electrosurgery,
  • Pulsed dye laser therapy,
  • Micro-punch technique

Optionally, if you need to reduce their effects on lip appearance apply anti-sebum ointments and creams for white spots.

Other causes

Other causes include contact allergy, mucous cysts, lip pimples, fibroma, lip dryness, sunburned lip blisters, poorly done Juvederm,

Tiny, Bumps inside lips (mouth) patches pictures

Common causes of small bumps on lips include oral herpes and canker sores and milia at times. Furthermore, the white small white dots can be due to Fordyce spots or herpes. If they are slightly bigger, they could be due to a pimple. Do you have spots similar to what you can see in the images below?

White patches on lips and mouth

White spots on and inside lips can sometimes look patchy that resulting to lip discoloration. So, what causes the to be patchy?

Some of the factors and causes of white spots we have looked at may lead to these patches and mouth namely, mouth (oral) cancer, severe oral thrush, leukoplakia and vitiligo. A white patch on lip is indicative of a traumatic injury such as cuts. White patches can also appear in mouth, on tongue and gums.

According to Health Grades Inc. other underlying causes of white patches on lips and mouth include inflammatory bowel diseases, alcoholism, and cancer. Other considerable factors to look at are chewing tobacco and smoking.

On lower & inside lower lip

Why do I have white spots on my lower lips? Common causes including inside lips namely: Cold sores, canker sores, and lip cancer. Any of the other reasons could also be responsible.

Note that the spots may be flat (not raised). Some cause pain while some may be painless to touch. Always seek medical attention if you have bumps on lips that have taken longer than two weeks to heal.

On upper lips

They can be due to any of the reasons we have mentioned. For instance, anyone can get small or tiny white bumps clustered on upper lip or around mouth and nose. If they are painful it could be due to cold sores. If there is no pain then they are more likely Fordyce spots.

However, if you have bumps on upper lips and cause numbness and sudden swelling, see your doctor immediately.

How to get rid of them

Learning how to treat white spot is important but you should be certain of what causes those ugly looking patches. Home remedies should be a quite effective after you have gone for examination to know what exactly causes white spots in mouth.

Oral medications

Most medicines administered orally are prescription treatments meant for short term purposes. A category of drugs commonly

Surgical treatment

Depending on the extent to which oral cancer cells have spread, your doctor makes incisions in lip to remove tumour. One of techniques applied is reconstructive surgery. In some cases, radiotherapy is incorporated if tumors have occupied the whole of the lip or extended to vestibular tissue.

Oral cancer sometimes may grow and such that the malignant cells become uncontrollable.  White spots on lips associated with oral cancer is a health threat if not diagnosed, cured and controlled early.

Vaccinations for STDs

The other effective method of eliminating white spots is finding cure for the underlying cause. HPV can go away on its own but the truth so far is that is has no cure. Under the FDA regulations, vaccines can protect females against strains of HPV that leads to cervical cancer and genital warts. The National Advisory Committee on Immunizations recommends use of vaccines before individuals become sexually active.

Minor lip exfoliation

Doing a daily gentle scrubbing of lips will not only reduce effects brought by white spots. This also prevent them from forming small lines that encourage microbial activity especially after eating.

Boost your dietary nutrition

Ensure you at least include sources of foods that have contain folic acid, vitamin A, B complex, vitamin C. incorporate green vegetables, yoghurt, lentils, and other pharmaceutical food supplements.

Stop using chemical lip balms

The moment you observe unusual changes in lip appearance like spots and bumps, it is a high time to quit application of lip products.

Stop smoking and Tobacco chewing

As we saw earlier, both smoking and tobacco chewers are at high risk to develop oral cancer or leukoplakia. This can also encourage growth of fungi and this not only increases spread of oral thrush but massively contributes to bad breath. If you stopped smoking early enough you may spare your respiratory and nervous system from complications. Some of which are eventually fatal and shorten your life.

  • If you have poorly fitting dentures remove them and cease to use them. Otherwise you must take good care of them by making sure that are always clean.
  • Regulate use of antibiotics especially oral medicines. Remember that overusing them can create resistance against the strains of good bacteria in your oral cavity.

To sum up, whether you good and standard oral hygiene is mandatory. Special oral cases including lesions, bumps or spots that persist for more than two weeks should be taken as a serious issue. Above all, you are encouraged to plan, schedule and go regular examinations whether you think your oral health is okay or compromised.

Reference and Quoted Sources