Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"I have a small cut on my upper lip. What could it be?"

ZocdocAnswersI have a small cut on my upper lip. What could it be?


I'm pretty sure it isn't a cold sore because I haven't been in any sort of contact with anyone who has had one. It is a tiny cut that just looks like a little crack and today the skin around it is the tiniest bit red/swollen. It kind of hurts, but not badly. There is no blister or puss or anything like that so I'm not sure what it is or how to best heal it.


Thank you for your question. Like you, it is hard for me to say what exactly is causing your current complaint so it is important that you speak with your doctor. Most often, common viral sores that are known as cold sores are from a virus that is frequently encountered in our environment. Sharing a drink with something or other simple contact of that sort can be sufficient to spread the virus, and there are some who have the sores which then lie dormant for a long period of time before they flare up. In fact, many people come in contact with the virus when they are still in preschool and may not develop the sores for years. Usually, the herpes virus family is implicated in cold sores (which are also known as fever blisters to some people). Herpes viruses can also cause different causes of sores, some of which can be spread via sexual contact. There are other things that can cause the symptoms that you are describing. Obviously, acne can have some of the same sorts of changes that you are describing. Other things such as trauma, and even more serious things such as cancer can cause sores that don't seem to improve quickly. Please speak with your doctor.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.