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White Spots on Lips

Last reviewed by Dr. Raj MD on January 12th, 2022.

What are the white spots on your lips?

White spots on the lips can be easily noticed. This is especially cumbersome for the majority of women because this tends to mar their unblemished skin. The white spots on the lips are also called the Fordyceโ€™s spots. This was being named such because the person who discovered the condition was John Addison Fordyce, an American dermatologist. White spots on the lips often have the following characteristics: slightly raised, painless and appear pale. Most of these spots measure around 3 millimeters in diameter. The white spots are commonly located where there are also loads of sebaceous glands without hair follicles. You may also find them along the borders of your lips and these may affect both men and women regardless of age. Nonetheless, there is really nothing to be entirely concerned about having white spots on the lips as these are merely superficial issues. To some these may be a big deal but the appearance of white spots on the lips is rarely associated with a more serious condition though there are some instances that it is. Furthermore, you may read the rest of this review to better understand how white spots on the lips develop and how they can possibly be treated.


Generally, white spots on the lips appear for no specific reason. This is termed in the medical field as idiopathic or without a known cause. At times this condition has just benign causes. However, there are also instances that this can be associated with more serious illnesses which include cancer and sexually transmitted diseases. Below is a list of the possible causes for having white spots on the lips, either mild or serious.

Fordyce Disease

Among the common benign causes for the appearance of white spots on the lips is a condition called Fordyce disease. The white spots in Fordyce disease are actually sebaceous glands devoid of hair follicles and are already present even at birth. However, it is only later during pubescent that these spots become more noticeable. It has been found that nearly 95 percent of adolescents have Fordyce spots. Fordyce spots may also be seen on genital areas but these are not something to worry about because these are not contagious and would just eventually resolve on their own.


The excessive use of alcohol and tobacco poses great risk for the development of oral cancer. Oral cancer may give rise to several symptoms and among which is the appearance of white spots on the lips that may be slightly raised and sometimes painful. Leukoplakia, which is the white spots on the mouth, can also be associated with the development of white spots on the lips, according to Stanford medicine. This should not just be taken for granted because if left untreated this would become immensely fatal.


Another serious cause of the development of white spots on the lips is herpes labialis whose causative agent can either be the herpes simplex virus type 1 or type 2. The former is more common of the two and accounts for the majority of the oral herpes cases. The white spots associated with herpes labialis are communicable and can be passed on through direct contact. These spots are painful and may be fluid-filled. The condition would however resolve in a matter of two weeks.


The treatment for white spots on the lips would usually vary. When it is only caused by Fordyce disease, treatment may even be not necessary at all. However, when this thwarts your face value you may consult your dermatologist for the possible treatments. The whitish discoloration in Fordyce disease may be treated with laser or through chemical peeling with the use of tretinoin or alpha-hydroxy acids. White spots on the lips related to viral infections may be dealt with antiviral medications. Topical anaesthetics may also be applied to relieve pain.


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