Mysterious, unidentified lumps in the mouth, under the lip, on, inside, what have you, can be quite distressing. Before allowing panic to set in, remember there are copious explanations for strange lumps and bumps on every body part, including the mouth. Listing them all in one breath would be quite a (lumpy) mouthful, so bear with us as we explore the considerations, causes, and viable treatment options of the most commonplace lesions and lumps.
What Is this Lump Inside My Lip?
When encountering any sort of oral lesion, most people fear or assume the worst—herpes. Since middle school health class, we’ve been taught about the horrors of herpes and its alleged incurability. But with so many alternative reasons for a lip lump to develop, why should we automatically become hysterical at first sight?
Examine your bump, or plural—bumps. What do they look and feel like? What color are they? Is it a white lump on the inside of the lip? Or is it more reddish, inside the cheek? Are they painful, irritated, festering, purulent, spreading? Where are they located within the mouth—on the inner lip, on the gums, in the cheek, et cetera—? What are your symptoms?
Now that you’ve identified the key characteristics of the issue, read on to narrow down the diagnosis of the lump inside your lip.
Oral mucoceles are classified as a disorder of the salivary glands. When these glands are damaged, as a result of injury or incessant lip chewing and biting, they can become blocked. Thus, mucus builds up within the gland that produces saliva causing a swollen lump inside the lip.
Mucoceles are sometimes referred to as cystic, but due to the lack of epithelial lining, they’re closer in relation to polyps instead. These polyps occur on the inside of the mouth, on the inner lips and cheeks, rather than on the outside.
If a mucocele doesn’t fade on its own (as they often do), a doctor can intervene and either remove the gland entirely under a local anesthetic or via the marsupialization technique that forces the formation of a new duct, then pushing out the trapped saliva.
Also known as aphthous ulcers, canker sores are usually flat and lesion-like instead of lumpy. Canker sores in the bottom lip, and elsewhere in the soft oral tissue can make eating and talking extremely painful and difficult as it forces movement against the neighboring teeth. The good news, however, is they often go away within a week and they’re not contagious.
Canker sores may develop as a result of allergies, low vitamin counts (such as folic acid, vitamin B, and zinc), lauryl sulfate sensitivity (which is found in many oral hygiene products), and even spiked stress levels.
Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease
HFMD comes from the coxsackievirus A16 of the Enterovirus genus. It’s most often found in children, but that doesn’t mean adults can’t experience it. Though it is highly contagious, it’s also very manageable. When treated properly, will subside in seven to 10 days.
Among many other symptoms such as a sore throat, loss of appetite, fever, and rashes on the hands and feet, HFMD also comes with some painful blistering inside the mouth—small, hard lumps that are reddish in hue. The pain of these blisters can be managed by OTC meds like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, as well as by sucking on an icy cold popsicle. Experts recommend avoiding both citrusy and salty foods until the small lumps disappear.
If the hard lump in your lip is a dark lump, it may be an ugly and uncomfortable blood blister. These usually develop after an injury or accident, with the exception of those diagnosed with angina bullosa hemorrhagica, which causes such blisters to spontaneously form. Dentures and braces alike can also pierce the skin in the mouth, which can cause enclosed, bloody lumps in the mouth and under the lip. If the blister is benign, it will disappear within two weeks.
Home remedies are popular for remedying these lumps—chamomile, witch hazel, and ice have all been proven to help the condition.
Fordyce spots or granules present as white lumps on the inside of the lips and mouth. These papules are generally asymptomatic but can be described as yellowish, whitish, or pale in color, painless, tiny bumps.
Not to be confused with milia or sebaceous hyperplasia, Fordyce spots also appear in clusters. Vanity and slightly uncomfortable itching might lead a patient to request cauterization of these spots, but scars left behind are something else to consider. They usually recede on their own accord.
With a bit of foreshadowing earlier, we have to address the obvious, perhaps taboo, subject of herpes. Unlike herpes simplex virus type 2 which is the STD, HSV-1 is the common virus that causes cold sores in both adults and children. While still very contagious, HSV-1 can clear up quickly when managed accurately.
However, disappointingly, once contracted, the herpes virus remains dormant in your system forever. Even after the hard lump in your lip heals, you are prone to recurring instances of cold sores. Its inactivity can be awakened and triggered by numerous factors like stress, fatigue, and injuries.
A Mouthful of Lumpy Options
Combing the world wide web in search of a firm diagnosis for your lumps is often done in vain. Scouring pictures and studying abstracts published by MDs and PhDs will only get you so far. If you’re unsure about a lesion, cut, bump, or lump on or in your lips and mouth, proceed to your doctor. Only they will be able to run the proper tests and screenings required for accurate diagnostics and treatment.
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