What is this painful bump on my lip?
August 5, 2012 4:54 PM   Subscribe

Fungal lip infection, cold sore/fever blister, something else??

So I just got back home (Los Angeles) after a short trip to Chicago and I have a puffy, painful lip issue. My first thought was it must be a fever blister or cold sore, but I've never had one before and I was under the impression that usually people get those due to a virus and have frequent 'flare-ups'. So since I was wondering if its something else and how to treat it.
A little background, I bit the inside of my cheek about five days ago which developed into a canker sore and has been irritating ever since. Thats about an inch and a half inside my mouth. This new thing is on the same side but on my top lip near the corner...could the 2 ailments be related, like the bite wound got infected and spread? Other things that might be worth noting is that:
-- its (the lip thing) white and bumpy, not red or open
--I have a temperature of 99.2 (not sure if that counts as a fever)
--it was very hot and muggy in Chicago, not the climate I'm used to
--I did use someone else's chapstick at one point but she had no visible sores
--it was a "party" trip so I consumed a lot of alcohol
--traveling was slightly stressful
--I'm a 33 yr old lady
I coincidentally have a doctor's appointment Friday for chronic anal fissures* so I'll have him check out my lip too but wondering if any one has ideas of how I can heal my lip in the mean time. Thanks!
*this makes me a bit paranoid that I may have some underlying health issue that is causing these uncomfortable abrasions to my orifices..could there be a connection here??
posted by hellameangirl to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Could it be a pimple? I occasionally get those on the border of my lipline. If it's inside the borders of the lip, it's something else. My first guess would be a HSV1 lesion.
posted by quince at 5:01 PM on August 5, 2012

oh just some advice for canker sores, which aren't related to HSV1.. use a mouthwash with Hydrogen Peroxide (the new Listerine is good) twice a day. or just use straight up 2(HO), but that tastes like eating coins. either way, it will clean out the sore and quicken healing. if you use it right when you think one is starting it will really help. yes, it will hurt, but the canker sore seems to thrive on mouth bacteria so the daily cleaning helps.
posted by ninjew at 5:18 PM on August 5, 2012

Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex. You could have been newly exposed to it, or you could have been harboring it without symptoms for an unknown amount of time. People can shed virus without having an obvious sore, too. Exposure to HSV1 is pretty overwhelmingly common, and the sores can be reactivated by sun, stress, being sick, and some people have flare-ups associated with certain foods. Ask your doctor when you see him, but it is really no big deal if you have HSV1. The sores suck, but can be managed.

Oh, does the sore on your lip hurt? I have never had a painless cold sore. Quite the contrary, they can be godawful.
posted by Coatlicue at 5:23 PM on August 5, 2012

Yes, its painful, but compared to my anal fissures and canker sore its actualy the least painful thing going on :p
So if its hsv1, how should I treat it? Right now I'm using carmex but don't know if I should keep it dry instead..
posted by hellameangirl at 5:30 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Could still be a lip pimple. They hurt too.
posted by unknowncommand at 5:32 PM on August 5, 2012

Yeah, I get lip pimples pretty much constantly at certain times of the month and I promise they hurt. If that's what you have it'll go away by itself in a few days.
posted by town of cats at 5:34 PM on August 5, 2012

I don't think its a pimple because a) I'm on a birth control that keeps my skin clear/haven't had a pimple in years and b) its a white cluster, not a red bump.
posted by hellameangirl at 5:51 PM on August 5, 2012

Does it look anything like (gross) this? Sometimes cold sores go through a very distinctive cluster of clear fluid filled bubbles stage. (If it is, this may be your first flare up or you may just have them infrequently. I swear that one of my triggers is wearing chapstick or certain lipsticks/glosses... Or stress, especially other mouth stress like biting my lip, or travel, or about fifty-nine other things because my lip hates me.)
posted by anaelith at 6:55 PM on August 5, 2012

Also, is it itchy? If so, cold sore. Do NOT scratch it, even just a little because it itches so damn badly....... The painful part comes after it ruptures.
posted by anaelith at 7:11 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Could you provide a picture?
posted by Michele in California at 7:25 PM on August 5, 2012

I get cold sores about once a year (just had one this past week) and I would describe the feeling as a "tingle" more than a burn. It's very distinctive once you know what it is. Mine can be triggered by a variety of things, but mostly either stress or being out in the sun. You could have had the virus for a long time and something just triggered it now.

If you think it is a cold sore, then Abreva works pretty well (Carmax is guaranteed to GIVE me a cold sore) though it works best if you catch it early. Seconding the advice to not scratch it, no matter how much you might want to - I find it itches as it develops.

If your doctor agrees that it is a cold sore, you might ask him for a prescription for Valacyclovir (Valtrex). I resisted for a while after my dentist gave me a prescription, but I used it with this recent outbreak (from the first tingle) and it shortened what would otherwise have been 2 weeks of hideousness down to a few days of barely noticeable redness.
posted by marylynn at 7:52 PM on August 5, 2012

The lovely lady who awarded me my first ever cold sore advised me to eat Vitamin B supplements at the first sign of an outbreak. It does seem to clear them up more quickly than leaving them to their own devices (I've had better results from B supplements than from acyclovir) and is in any case cheap and harmless.
posted by flabdablet at 7:55 PM on August 5, 2012

One more thing: it took about five years from first acquisition until my outbreaks reduced to maybe one per year. During that time I learned to treat cold sore tingles like warning lights on a car instrument panel labelled Stress and Sun Overexposure. They were quite reliable in that role.
posted by flabdablet at 8:01 PM on August 5, 2012

If it's a cold sore (herpes), Abreva helps. A prescription for Valtrex or Famvir really helps.
posted by radioamy at 8:11 PM on August 5, 2012

Thanks everyone! I can't provide a picture but it does look like the one anaelith provided except its not red (maybe thats the next stage? aarg I hope not) So far it doesn't itch but it is tender to the touch. I'll try to see if I can bump my appointment up sooner but if I can't, any home remedies work for you all? Would applying tea tree oil or rubbing alcohol help?
Oh and I will take extra vitamins.
posted by hellameangirl at 9:16 PM on August 5, 2012

Vitamins A and E, alkalinizing food and drink like lettuce or tonic water. Those all help with viral infections.
posted by Michele in California at 9:20 PM on August 5, 2012

L-lysine tablets. Recommended dosage for cold sores is 3g (3000mg) or more per day, in several doses spread out over the day, but that much gives me funny tummy so be careful... I also crush a tablet, mix with water, and spread the paste over the sore while I'm at home--this is a little unpleasant because of the taste and it looks funny.

Avoid taking any supplements or vitamins with L-arginine in them, arginine uses the same pathways in the body as lysine does so taking it negates taking all the lysine.
posted by anaelith at 3:53 AM on August 6, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have something towards the corner of my upper lip called a 'venous lake' or pool. A little purple bump that hardens/softens for random reasons.
A much larger version of which is shown here : here.

I have asked a dentist and a dermatologist about it, and am told it would require surgery to address, because basically it is a vein herniating through the skin.
posted by exparrot at 9:09 AM on August 6, 2012

When I went to my doctor with something like this, the very first thing she said was STOP THE CARMEX! It started with a few bumps, then moved to puffiness and soreness, then to my lips trying to peel themselves off my body. Turns out I was having an allergic reaction to something-or-other that was being made much worse by Carmex, which is apparently pretty harsh. We never figured out quite what it was I was reacting to, but I use plain Vaseline lip balm now, and toothpaste with no whitening. Hasn't recurred so far.
posted by telophase at 9:25 AM on August 6, 2012

Sounds liek a cold sore triggered by the environment and lower immunity due to alcohol consumption. When I get a cold sore I use abreva and massive amounts of lysine vitamins and it usually keeps the embarassment down to 4 days or so.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:53 AM on August 6, 2012

Putting a cold tea bag on it can ease the pain/calm it down a little. And nthing the don't pick! In fact, don't even touch if you can help it. And be careful to wash your hands if you do, as HSV can transfer to eyes if it's a new infection.
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 2:17 PM on August 6, 2012

Thanks everyone! Dorothea_in_Rome, I tried the tea bag trick and within a couple hours it went from yellow to a dark brown, like a scab one would get on their knee..is this supposed to happen? Its looks terrible, but maybe it means its healing? I would like to know if I continue with the tea bag treatment or stop to let it heal on its own?
posted by hellameangirl at 9:30 AM on August 7, 2012

After the yellow/clear blister stage these things rip open (if you're unlucky) and become a bloody wound and then scab over and become just like any other cut. Maybe you were fortunate enough to skip the bloody wound stage. Once it's scabbed over it's not really a cold sore, you don't need to do anything special to it except don't touch it. (Really, truly don't disturb the scab at all, it can leave a scar/blemish if you mess with it that takes months to go away.)
posted by anaelith at 9:44 AM on August 7, 2012

Thanks, anaelith. When it was yellow it was a little weepy but no blood.
So either I am lucky or the tea bag trick really works! I also put tea tree oil on it a couple times, loaded up on vitamins, and took baths instead of showers the last 2 days to keep it dry..maybe that helped.
Haven't had a chance to get L-lysine or Abreva..would that still help or will it not do anything in the dark scabby phase?
posted by hellameangirl at 9:56 AM on August 7, 2012

Tea is an astringent. It dries stuff out. Also, it is high in tannins, which can kill some microbes. It sounds like it probably sped up the healing process.
posted by Michele in California at 10:00 AM on August 7, 2012

Once you're in the scabby phase lysine and Abreva won't do anything. If it's not a hardship to keep taking baths, that would help...often the scab gets loose and comes off in the shower.
posted by anaelith at 10:43 AM on August 7, 2012

Sweet! Thanks everyone so much!
posted by hellameangirl at 10:57 AM on August 7, 2012

Glad you got some answers that are working for you. Just to add on a bit for you, 99.2 is not an official fever (100.5F / 38.1C) is the usual medical cutoff.

I think this is unlikely to be related to the anal fissures. IANYD.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:01 PM on August 7, 2012

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