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Pimple on the Lip: Here's What to Do

Pimple on the Lip: Here's What to Do

Pimples develop anywhere on the body, but they are a particularly painful nuisance when they pop up on your lip. Try to sip a hot latte? Ouch! Bite that bagel? Ouch! A pimple on the lip is a constant painful reminder. Here’s what you need to do to rid yourself of that pesky pimple problem.

Pimples are a Type of Acne

Pimples are a common type of acne. It’s actually the most common skin condition and affects nearly 10% of the global population. Acne occurs when the pores (hair follicles) become clogged with oil, dirt, and dead skin cells. Pimples and acne develop when the skin’s natural oily substance (sebum) that lubricates your hair and skin, builds up and makes dead skin cells bind together, clogging pores. Excess oil production, bacteria, and hair follicles that are clogged can cause pimples on the lip line. 

Pimples Occur Only on Lip Line

Pimples don’t occur on the actual lips, only on the skin with at the edge of the lips, the lip line. They occur at the lip line due to a high concentration of oil producing glands in that area.

The lips themselves have no hair follicles, so no pimples can form there. Also, the lips contain no melanin, which gives skin its color and tone. The color of the lips is due to the blood vessels below the skin. 

Why a Pimple on the Lip Hurts

There is nothing so irritating and bothersome than that pimple on the lip. And boy, do they hurt! Ever wonder just why they hurt more than an average pimple on your chin? Well, the skin around the edge of the lips is thinner. Plus. there are more nerve endings in the area. The lips themselves have over 1,000,000 nerve endings, making them the most sensitive part of your body. And thin skin plus more nerves equals a double pain whammy.  

Pimples vs Cold Sores

Pimples appear at the corners of the mouth and the lip line as red or pinkish bumps that may or may not have a white head. These are not the same as cold sores. Cold sores are different in their cause and visual appearance. 

Usually a cold sore starts with a stinging or burning sensation followed by the appearance of a cluster or group of small blisters. Some people develop pus filled bumps rather just clear blisters. Lip pimples are usually a solitary red bump. And a  big difference is that pimples are caused by bacteria, while cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus. 


Though you may be tempted to pop that pimple on your lip, try skin treatments first. Popping increases chances of breaking the skin’s protective moisture barrier and spreading bacteria to the surrounding area, creating the right conditions for a breakout and more lip pimples.

Start treatment with these steps. 

Cleanse 2x daily. Use a mild cleansing product. Be sure to avoid products that contain alcohol or DN (denatured) alcohol and witch hazel. These ingredients are too drying. 

Gentle Exfoliation. Use a chemical exfoliator like BHA, also called salicylic acid. Salicylic acid is oil soluble, making it a superior ingredient for dissolving excess oil and the pore clogging gunk that gets stuck in it. 

Add benzoyl peroxide.  Benzoyl peroxide fights bacteria and makes an effective spot treatment.

Retinoid. Spot treat with a retinoid product. Retinoids are the gold standard in acne treatment as they effectively slough off all those dead skin cells. Plus, they decrease oil production, reduce inflammation, soothe acne scarring, and lighten up any leftover redness after a pimple has gone bye-bye.


Yes, a pimple on the lip is a pain. But with patience and a few good skincare products you’ll be on your way to pain free eating, drinking, smiling and more, in no time at all!