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Mouth Diseases

What Are These Bumps on My Lips?

11/13/2009

Question:

thank you for your time. about two weeks ago i got a crack or split in the corner of my mouth which i get a few times a year. It healed in about 3 days. about 2 days later i noticed several bumps on the left side of my upper lip. At first the were about the size of a needle tip and then they got a little bigger.

day1 with bumps: after they got bigger they multiplied (about 8 of them now). then some of the bumps got a water-like fluid on them that ruptured when i rubbed my lips together. some of the bumps seemed to disappear at this time.

day2: some bumps are getting smaller while others seem to be swelling

day3: bumps continue to fade away (no scabbing or crusting or sores). They are almost completely gone when i notice the same thing happening on the other side of my upper lip and the bottom as well

day 4 + 5: same as days 1 and 2 along with some swelling and slight burning

day 6: bumps are completely gone but only for a few hours when they come back

I have not been eating anything different or using any new chap sticks. No kissing or sexual contact in almost a year. do you know what this could be? thank you

Answer:

In response to your concerns, it is very likely that you may have a HSV (Herpes Simplex virus infection). Classic presentation is similar to your description, occurs on the vermillion border of the lips, several (in your case 8 or more eruptions that become vesicular (fluid-filled), associated with pain and burning, vesicles rupture, in most cases crust over, but the course usually runs from 10-14 days, whereas you state they are gone in 6 days but then return.

How long has this been occurring? Multiple episodes or is this the first time you have experienced this? Do you have any other medical problems or are you on any medications. I would suggest if this continues that you have it evaluated by your primary care physician or dentist. This would be helpful in order to rule out other possible causes such as contact allergy, drug reaction, etc., to list a few.

In all likelihood, it is nothing more than secondary HSV-1 infection and the disease usually runs its course and subsides in 10-14 days.

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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