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What Are the Common Causes of Pus in the Lips?

Cold sores from the herpes simplex virus can cause pus in the lips.
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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 17 March 2014
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Common causes of pus in the lips include an infection from a lip piercing, a cold sore infection tied to the type I herpes simplex virus, or a condition called cheilitis that can result from certain vitamin deficiencies. Pus is a sign that the body is actively fighting an infection, which may range from mild to serious. Colors of pus range from white to pale yellow, and it forms as a result of immune cell decay during the body's natural response to harmful bacteria. Blisters containing pus usually indicate an infection that can be spread from one person to the next, so dermatologists often advise sufferers to take careful measures for preventing this problem.

Symptoms of a lip infection often include swelling and pain, and this issue is especially common in lip piercings that have not been kept clean. The lips are particularly sensitive areas of the body for piercing due to their frequent contact with food and other objects. Professional piercers recommend that a new piercing is cleaned carefully with antibacterial liquid soap after every meal and any time after the wearer touches it. Signs of a bacterial invasion at the piercing site include pus, along with redness and discomfort. Minor infections often clear up on their own, although more serious ones may need treatment with antibiotics.

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Cold sores are caused by a common herpes virus, and they can cause pus in the lips in some cases. This type of blister normally forms on the upper or lower lip and can be quite uncomfortable. While sufferers can be tempted to pop or lance a cold sore, doing so can easily introduce bacteria into the sore and make the initial problem worse. Pus in an infected sore indicates a more serious bacterial infection that normally takes longer to clear up and can sometimes leave a scar.

Cracks or small blisters at the corners of the mouth are often a sign of cheilitis, a common problem resulting from too little vitamin B12 or iron in the diet. Picking or scratching at these sores can also frequently trigger a bacterial infection that can spread. Just as with a cold sore, medical professionals advise that a cheilitis sore is kept clean and left alone as much as possible to facilitate the healing process.

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Discuss this Article

anon302552
Post 4

I was recently hospitalized and had a 105 fever they gave me antibiotics in my IV and now I have clear bubbles on my bottom lower lip on the left corner. I shouldn't worry much, right or wrong?

bluedolphin
Post 3

@alisha-- I think it's probably a cold sore blister. Do you get cold sores often or did you have a fever recently?

I've gotten blisters like that a couple of times on my lip or around my lip and it usually happens after I have a fever. It's actually called a fever blister, it's really similar to a cold sore.

Don't pop it, it should heal on its own. Even if it turns out to be a pimple, it will pop on its own if it needs to. It's better to let it run its course. And you might want to take some multivitamins to speed up the process in case a vitamin deficiency is the root of the problem.

discographer
Post 2

Is it possible to get a zit or pimple on or near the lips?

I have what looks like a pimple on the side of my lips. It's not on my lips exactly, it's where my lip meets my skin. It is filled with pus and I can see the pus but I can't decide if I should pop it and clean it or just leave it alone. If it turns out to be a blister and I pop it, it will probably spread, right?

Has anyone had a pus filled blister in that area before?

ddljohn
Post 1

My cousin had an infection from a lip piercing, it was bad. She showed me what it looked like and it was really red and swollen and she had pus too. This was actually why I changed my mind about getting a lip piercing. I think it's really hard to keep a lip piercing clean.

She ended up having to go to the doctor and take antibiotics because the infection just wouldn't go away. She said the pus was starting to smell really bad too, yuck!

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