ZocdocAnswersWhy do I have a white patch on my lip?

Question

Why do I have a white patch on my lip?

There is a white patch on the inside of my lip. What is it? I'm a cigarette smoker. Could that have something to do with it?

Answer

Sorry to hear that you noticed a white patch on your lip that is bothersome to you. You ask a very good question about whether it may be associated with your smoking, and the short answer is that it might be. There are a number of different processes that can cause lesions within the oral cavity. Trauma (such as from being hit, or even bite trauma...like biting your lip) may devascularize (i.e. cut off the blood flow) some of the tissue and it can turn a whitish color. As it heals, the devascularized tissue sloughs off and new tissue grows in. To get the best answer to your question, I would recommend making an appointment with an otolaryngologist (ENT aka Ear Nose Throat) physician. The reason for this is that there are a number of different questions I would like to ask that are not feasible in this setting. (such as history of trauma, history of "cold sores", whether the lesion is painful, duration, etc) Also they will be able to examine your lip and should be able to give you a more definitive answer. At the forefront of any physicians mind (especially due to your smoking history) is making sure that this lesion is not a cancer. Because of this, when you see a physician they may discuss taking a biopsy of the lesion (they may not, but I just want you to be aware that it is a possibility). I wish you all the best, and hope that this was helpful.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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