Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Whiteheads in my lips?"
I have a lot of tiny whiteheads under the skin of my lips, like they're buried in my lips. I can pop them and they'll go away, but if I leave them, they never go away. And when I pop them it's super painful and leaves a huge mark. What is this?
It sound like what you are dealing with is most likely something called Fordyce spots. Fordyce spots are in fact not acne at all; rather they are the normal oil glands that are found throughout the skin. However, because the skin of the lip is very thin and transparent they show up as round, white, painless bumps whereas they are not visible in other parts of the skin that are thicker. Although not every person has Fordyce spots, when they are present they are a normal finding and they do not represent any disease process. Consequently, they should be left alone. You should definitely not squeeze them, as this will just cause trauma to the lip and may result in pain, scarring, and infection. Rarely, oral herpes can show up as many small spots on the lips. However, these tend to be blistered lesions and tend to be painful, which doesn't sound like what you are describing. Occasionally, if a patient finds the Fordyce spots to be very cosmetically distressing, a dermatologist may be willing to try a laser or chemical based treatment to remove them. However, these treatments can have many side effects, and most doctors are reluctant to treat what is basically a normal finding.
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