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Mouth Diseases

Bumps above lip and on chin

06/11/2009

Question:

I have 3 or four white bumps lining my upper lip. The bumps are only visible when the skin is stretched. They are not painful or itchy. I tried to pop them to see what would happen and some white stuff came out,both fluid and solid like-almost coming out like a tiny piece of thread, in a straight line, as though i were popping pimple. However they always seem to reappear, in the same spots. As far back as I can remember, I have had these for years, since highschool- 7-8years ago. My issue is recently I have noticed similar bumps on my chin- again they only appear when skin is stretched- and when popped the same fluid and solid like substance comes out and they reappear again within hours it seems. What could these be? I think I am starting to notice them on my forehead as well, no pain however on the forehead they are visible without stretching.

Answer:

Without examining what you are describing I can only guess what you are describing. With that said, you are probably describing a normal anatomical variant known as a fordyce granule or oral sebaceous gland. The lesions on your chin may be the same or they may just be plugged skin pores.

Fordyce granules are sebaceous glands that occur within the oral cavity and appear as whitish, yellowish, papular structures on the buccal mucosa, lateral aspect of the vermillion border of the lip, retromolar pad region, and anterior to the tonsillar pillars. They are more commonly found in adults and may be the result of hormonal influences as they seem to be prevalent during puberty. They are asymptomatic (as you described), and the quantity of ectopic glands is variable, as some persons have a lot of these on the interior cheek and lips whereas others may have just one or two noticeable lesions.

Next, it is not a good practice to pop or pick at these glands within the mouth as it may lead to an infection and possible scarring. (Didn’t your mother tell you not to pick at things?) The expressed material is sebum, which is composed of triglycerides, wax esters, and squalene, all degradation products of lipid-containing cells. In some severe cases, fordyce granules can become hyperplastic and/or form pseudocysts, filled with the material that is highly concentrated with keratin similar to the contents within keratocysts.

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Response by:

Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD Richard J Jurevic, DDS, PhD
Formerly, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences
School of Dental Medicine
Case Western Reserve University