Is this a mouth ulcer or something else?
June 2, 2007 1:48 PM   Subscribe

What's wrong with my face?

On waking this morning, there was a swelling of some kind in my lower lip, roughly level with my bottom right incisor. At first I thought it was an ulcer, but over the next few hours, it's grown, and it's now bigger than any ulcer I've had before. It's got a white domed centre, about quarter of an inch across, surrounded by a large patch of dark purple that looks a bit like a bruise. Twelve hours later, and the bruising has grown significantly in size and depth of colour, and is now showing through to a purple patch on the outside of my face. It's achy and uncomfortable, and intensely painful when I poke it. (I know - stop poking it)

What on earth is it? Will it go away on its own, or do I need a doctor?
posted by talitha_kumi to Health & Fitness (18 answers total)
Could it be a spider bite? Your description made me think that I'd go to the docter if I were you . . . and I really don't like going to the doctor.
posted by defreckled at 1:58 PM on June 2, 2007

It is an infection. From what - why - who knows? I had one show up in the middle of my chest for no damn reason once. These things happen. It's getting worse, so have a doctor take a look at it.
posted by nanojath at 2:02 PM on June 2, 2007

How, pray tell, would she (or he) get a spider bite on the inside of her lip?

I can't tell you what it is, but maybe an anti-inflammatory might help with the pain? It sounds like a cyst of some sort, with it's quick onset. A dentist might be able to help, too, if you feel like you need to see someone.
posted by kimdog at 2:04 PM on June 2, 2007


I'd wait. If you're not otherwise uncomfortable (fever, body ache, sweats, etc.), give it another night and see if it doesn't improve. It's possible you slept with something stuck down there irritating your lip all night. Some canker sore ointment might help.
posted by mkultra at 2:05 PM on June 2, 2007

If you live in the city listed in your profile, rather than a nearby town/village, most of the GP surgeries subscribe to the same nights and weekends service. Just call your surgery and there should be automated instructions.

You can call NHS Direct. After a long wait, they will tell you to see a doctor. Although they might have a good idea as to whether you should see the doctor tonight or Monday.
posted by grouse at 2:06 PM on June 2, 2007

It sounds like it might a carbuncle, also called a boil. Whatever it is, get yourself to a doctor, because as you said, it's achy and uncomfortable, and it's not going to go away any time soon.
posted by iconomy at 2:06 PM on June 2, 2007

Yeah, if you're in the UK NHS direct will advise.
posted by fire&wings at 2:07 PM on June 2, 2007

Go to the doctor!

And, it sounds like a spider bite.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 2:10 PM on June 2, 2007

The poster appears to be in the UK, so a spider bite, especially inside the mouth, is not likely.
posted by fire&wings at 2:16 PM on June 2, 2007

How, pray tell, would she (or he) get a spider bite on the inside of her lip?

Ahem -- Doctor Finds Spiders in Boy's Ear.

The poster appears to be in the UK, so a spider bite, especially inside the mouth, is not likely.

Ahem -- There are around 640 named species of spider in Britain.
posted by ericb at 2:29 PM on June 2, 2007

Good Lord in Heaven, get thee to a doctor!

There are skin infections that can kill you -this might be totally harmless or it can eat your face off. Let a doctor decide!
posted by konolia at 2:32 PM on June 2, 2007

To be clear -- not advocating that it's a spider bite, but indeed a remote possibility. I agree -- if not too uncomfortable wait 24-hours to see if swelling et al abates. If not, go see a doctor.
posted by ericb at 2:34 PM on June 2, 2007

Go see a Doctor (sooner rather than later, like pop in to your local A&E - I don't want to worry you, but I don't think you should leave it till Monday PM either) - I'm thinking it could be a blocked gland, or something pretty straight forward - but don't leave it. - Best to get it sorted out before anything nasty happens.
posted by Dub at 3:55 PM on June 2, 2007

Could it be a mucocele? I had one of these -- but don't recall the bruising you describe (until it was removed).

If it is a mucocele, having it removed is (surprisingly) not so bad. This website seems to have the most information on that particular problem.

Good luck!
posted by rdn at 3:55 PM on June 2, 2007

Just a bad canker sore? Previously on AskMe - Canker Sores.
posted by Chuckles at 5:24 PM on June 2, 2007

Consider oral herpes, commonly referred to as "cold sores." What you have sounds a bit big for a cold sore, but characteristic in that there is white on the inside and dark red / purple surrounding tissue. First infections often occur inside the mouth rather than on the lips or outside of the lips. If it's a primary infection of oral herpes, dose up on Valtrex, Denavir, and Abreva. You need anti-virals working from inside and out to make the primary infection as minimal as possible, so that future outbreaks are less severe and less often.

*** Abreva isn't an anti-viral, but will help if you can't get the prescription medications.
posted by lorrer at 7:33 AM on June 3, 2007

Update please.
posted by iconomy at 12:04 PM on June 3, 2007

I rang NHS direct first thing in the morning. They said go to the pharmacist and ask for advice. The pharmacist took one look and said I needed to see a doctor immediately, so I rang Camdoc and spoke to the emergency GP who said it was either something completely harmless or something potentially nasty, so I ought to come straight in. When I got in to the Camdoc surgery, I saw a different GP, who after a cursory look said it was just an ulcer combined with a bruise that just happened to be in exactly the same place, and treated me as if I was a hypochondriac who was wasting her time. She said to use over-the-counter antibacterial mouthwash until it goes away on its own.

So I feel a bit funny, since everyone up until the point when I got to the final doctor said I needed to be seen, but at the last I was told I was making a fuss over nothing. The white 'head' on the inside has vanished but I can still feel the full solid mass of it inside the flesh of my lower lip. The outer bruise is larger but a little less dark. I'll keep an eye on it, and if it's not showing signs of improvement by Wednesday I'll make an appointment to see my regular GP whose advice I trust a lot more.
posted by talitha_kumi at 2:20 AM on June 4, 2007

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