What's the deal with these sores on my lips?
June 19, 2008 4:54 PM   Subscribe

What's the deal with these sores on my lips?

I've got these little sores/breakages in the mucous membrane on the surface of the tissue right inside the mouth, just on the inside of the lips. They're very minor, but persistent. I think I can rule out herpes, and they're nothing like canker sores, just the very topmost surface tissue is broken and kind of ragged. No bleeding to speak of. It's been ongoing about 5 days, and I've tried adjusting a few things (dietary/behavioural), but they still seem to be happening afresh. There's a small irritated patch on my lower lip, but the upper is worse - it started out in the middle, and has been spreading outward. It seems like it starts out as a sort of generalised blistering, to the tissue/membrane visibly being broken, to the area ending up sort of red and puffy. The middle of my upper lip is in the latter phase while there is some newish blistering toward the outer edge.

I wouldn't describe them even as painful so much as irritated. They don't bother me when eating or drinking particularly. It's just the persistence which concerns me.

I've been applying Hydrogen Peroxide with a q-tip for the past two mornings, and drinking a lot of water, which seems to soothe the irritation a bit.

Is this something specific that anyone recognizes? Something viral/bacterial I should see a doctor about? Are there foods/drinks I should definitely be avoiding, or anything I should be taking to promote mouth healing?
posted by anazgnos to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Hydrogen peroxide isn't going to help them heal - it disinfects, but it causes tissue damage. Brush your teeth judiciously to at least keep your mouth clean. Go see your dentist.
posted by kldickson at 5:04 PM on June 19, 2008

I recommend rinsing your mouth with salt water instead of applying peroxide. In my experience, it helps any kind of oral sore heal better than direct application of antiseptic. YMMV.
posted by Krrrlson at 5:18 PM on June 19, 2008

Do you ever get fever blisters? That's exactly what it sounds like to me (and I get them from time to time). You don't always get them on the outside of your lips, you can get them on the inside, too. If that's what it is, be thankful you didn't get them on the outside of your lips; they really hurt then.

Anyway, these are the things you listed that make me think they're fever blisters:

- Ongoing for 5 days. Fever blisters tend to last about two weeks for me before they heal completely. If they're on the outside of my lip, I can shorten that to a week with Abreva, but you can't really use that on the inside (it's topical and just gets washed away). However, when I have a fever blister on the inside of my lip, it usually only lasts a week or so.

- The spreading. Sometimes you get a single fever blister, but it's not uncommon for them to spread.

- The "blistering" description.

How do you feel otherwise? Whenever I get fever blisters my body feels very tired, but my mind is alert. By this I mean I can get work done, but I can fall asleep within a minute once I let my mind rest.

Is there liquid inside them? I'm not sure if that's what you mean by "blistering" or not. If so, it could be a fever blister.

Lysine supplements are said to help reduce the chance of getting fever blisters in the future, but I'm not sure if they do much to heal ones you already have.

It could be something else, of course.
posted by Nattie at 5:20 PM on June 19, 2008

Have you done anything new lately, specifically something which may have introduced new flora to your mouth? Perhaps you have a fungal infection.
But, I'm not your doctor or pharmacist.
posted by strangelove at 5:20 PM on June 19, 2008

Fever blisters are cold sores, you can try this route. A good topical cream anti-viral with Aciclovir would work well, ask your doctor.
posted by strangelove at 5:25 PM on June 19, 2008

I get these when I eat raw tomatoes, grapefruits, and pineapples.
posted by idiotfactory at 5:45 PM on June 19, 2008

I also get blisters from a lot of citrus fruits.
posted by fshgrl at 6:07 PM on June 19, 2008

I get these when I eat raw tomatoes, grapefruits, and pineapples.

Me too, but I thought that those are canker sores?
posted by The Light Fantastic at 6:07 PM on June 19, 2008

[Old wives filter] Here are a few things that it probably wouldn't hurt to try: Swishing hot salt water around your mouth every few hours. Drinking chamomile tea (anti-bacterial and anti-fungal?). Avoiding stress. Getting more sleep.
posted by salvia at 6:18 PM on June 19, 2008

The wikipedia article for lysine mentions only herpes simplex but for me it has seemed like the ointment has helped clear my lips up from many kinds of sores.
posted by olecranon at 6:51 PM on June 19, 2008

Do you use an inhaler? I get ulcers that sound like what you're describing if I don't rinse my mouth really well after using my asthma inhalers.
posted by headspace at 7:45 PM on June 19, 2008

fever blisters = cold sores = herpes simplex. Canker sores, which are on the inside of the mouth, are something else. Good article on all this here.
posted by extrabox at 8:41 PM on June 19, 2008

So herpes simplex is not the same thing as genital herpes, but I've always heard that nearly any kind of mouth sore is caused by this fairly benign herpes and that it can BECOME genital herpes if you give someone oral sex. So be safe. (Now someone who actually knows what they're talking about will come correct me...)
posted by GardenGal at 8:38 AM on June 20, 2008

I've gotten sores inside my mouth (canker sores, I think) since I was a little kid. Mine are linked to allergies - a week of Claritin clears them right up.
posted by workerant at 9:18 AM on June 20, 2008

Do you have dry mouth? It happens to me when I sleep without drinking any water, and consequently, my mouth dries up, my lips stick to my teeth and in the morning, instant blister.
Not fun.
posted by Arthur Dent at 9:45 AM on June 23, 2008

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