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How To Get Rid of Lip Pimples

person with pimple on lip

We’ve all been there. You wake up bright and shiny from a good night of sleep and a stellar bedtime skincare routine, ready for the big party or event you have planned for the evening.

Feeling like sunshine itself, you fling open the curtains, flounce over to the bathroom, splash water on your face like a face wash advertisement, look into the mirror, and — there’s a huge, angry red pimple on your lip.

Unlike a blemish elsewhere on your face, no amount of concealer is going to fully disguise this puppy, and you’re already sure people will be noticing it all night because who wouldn’t. Plus, your lipstick game? Firmly rained out.

There’s very little that can throw your plans and your confidence out of whack like an unexpected breakout. And the worst thing about lip pimples is that they hurt.

Your lips have a crazy amount of nerve endings in them, and the skin around your lips tends to be a bit thinner than other parts of your face and body. While this is good news if you’re kissing somebody cute, it’s a nightmare when the skin around your lips is irritated because it can be so much more painful than your average pimple.

Are Lip Pimples the Same as Cold Sores?

This is often the first concern when a lip pimple pops up, especially if you haven’t had them before. Do you have a cold sore?

Cold sores and lip pimples can look really similar and feel really similar. You can usually differentiate between the two because cold sores, or fever blisters, usually form in clusters, and they often appear around your bottom lip. Before your cold sore forms, you might feel itchy or a mild burning sensation in the area. Once the blisters form, they’ll eventually pop and then heal.

Other than appearance, the only real way to confirm that you have a cold sore and not just a pimple is by speaking to your doctor while you have one so they can test it appropriately. If you do have cold sores, there’s no need to panic — while they do tend to recur throughout life, it’s not a big deal. You’ll just want to get treatment specifically formulated for cold sores instead of treating them like lip pimples.

What Causes Lip Pimples?

Like most breakouts, several things can cause pimples that form around your lips.

Although we tend to think of our lips as something separate from our skin and therefore treat them a bit differently, the skin around your lips has as many pores as anywhere else, and those pores have sebaceous glands, too, which means they can get blocked or clogged and form a pimple or a zit as a result.

Some of us are, unfortunately, prone to acne. So if you find yourself breaking out more often than not, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing anything wrong! It could just be a frustrating trait you inherited from Mom or Dad or even Great Aunt Sally.

Pimples are also more common in our teen years when our hormones are fluctuating and changing in ways they won’t at other points in our lives. But just because you may be predisposed to breakouts for one reason or another doesn’t mean there isn’t anything you can do to decrease their frequency and help clear them up more quickly when they do occur.


Maybe it’s just us, but even though we’ve left our teen years and should be breakout-free, we find that the older we get and the more responsibilities are stacked on our plates… the more likely we are to find a pimple cropping up when we’re under pressure. Which, seriously?

It is a cosmically unfair situation to know that you’re more likely to get something that will make you stressed and unhappy as a result of being stressed and unhappy.

When you’re stressed, your body can produce more of certain hormones, and this can cause your skin to break out. Other times, while stress may not cause a breakout, it can certainly make it worse if you have one brewing.


Let’s bust a myth — there isn’t really much evidence that shows that eating a couple of Oreos before bed is what’s causing your lip pimples or pimples anywhere, for that matter. There’s this pervasive belief that sugar causes breakouts, and while it may be true, it hasn’t been shown scientifically just yet. While it’s, of course, good to have a balanced diet and keep sweet treats to occasional pick-me-ups rather than making them a full-on food group, eating sugar isn’t to blame for your lip pimple.

Diet overall, however, can affect your skin and cause breakouts. In fact, dairy products have actually been shown to connect to breakouts. Dairy can actually cause some inflammation, which can affect your skin.

So if you notice that your lip pimples seem weirdly connected to your night cheese (come on, as if you don’t go in for a slice of whatever cheese you used making dinner when you’re putting everything away), dairy might be the culprit.

Greasy Food

No, this shouldn’t be under the diet umbrella because this one isn’t actually about what you ingest!

Much like sugar, you’ve probably been told once or twice — likely by a concerned parent when you were a teen living on pizza and cafeteria food — that eating too much greasy food can cause acne. While we can’t find any real evidence of this, when it comes to pimples on your lips, you actually do want to mind the amount of greasy and oily foods you consume.

When you eat greasy food, some of that delicious oily goodness can get into the pores around your lips and clog them, creating a pimple or a blister. Obviously, good hygiene will go a long way here, but if you’re noticing lip pimples popping up more frequently than you’d like, and your diet tends to have a lot of, well, grease — this might be the one.


While it may be a crucial part of your look, lipstick, lip glosses and even balms can cause pimples to develop around your lips. The product can get into the pores around your mouth, and because there’s somewhat less of a focus on making lip products non-comedogenic as many skin products are, this can result in blocked pores… which in turn cause pimples.

Some Medications

Some medications can cause breakouts and acne. This tends to be more common with medications that affect your hormones. Like we mentioned, with acne being more common in teenagers, anything that makes your hormones swing can trigger breakouts.

This includes birth control, testosterone and even some corticosteroids. If you notice that your lip pimples only became a thing after you took a new medication, it’s worth visiting your doctor to see if they have any solutions.

How To Get Rid of Lip Pimples

Even if you know what caused your lip pimples to appear, the more pressing question is how to get rid of them. It turns out; lip pimple care is pretty similar to the care you’d give pimples on any other part of your face or body.

First and foremost, as tempting as it is, don’t pop the pimple! Popping your pimples can lead to scarring, and unless you’ve really seriously disinfected your hands or the tools you use to pop the pimple, you’re risking an even worse look if you get an infection.

You’ll want to be sure to clean your skin twice a day if you aren’t already. We’d recommend any gentle cleanser you prefer or a cleanser specifically formulated to target oily and acne-prone skin, like our Clear Skin Cleansing Bar.

If you want to pamper yourself a little bit extra to help promote healing, apply warm compresses a few times a day (this is where working from home is worth its weight in gold!) by just soaking a washcloth in warm water and resting it against your lip for ten to fifteen minutes. This will help the pimple release all the grossness built up to cause the pimple in the first place.

After you cleanse your face and take your normal skincare steps, we also recommend temporarily laying off any heavy foundations to avoid stressing your skin out any further. You can finish off your routine with a spot treatment. Our Clear Complexion Acne Serum + Spot Treatment has 5% Benzoyl Peroxide and 5% Glycolic Acid, which is exactly what you want to help get rid of that pimple fast.

Other than that, you’ll just want to be sure to give your skin a little extra love when it comes to keeping it clean and letting it breathe — and make sure you’re not touching your face. It’s hard not to, especially when you’re self-conscious about something, but it will just make the problem worse.

It’s also ideal to avoid using any lipsticks or thick glosses while you’re waiting for your lip pimple to heal and to steer clear of greasy foods until it has healed.

In Conclusion

Lip pimples are the worst because they feel like they interfere with such a focal point of our faces. But while they’re frustrating, there are many ways to help minimize their appearance once you get them. It’s also useful to know what causes them in the first place, so you can avoid having to deal with them again in the future!

By: Ivey Rogers Aesthetician Educator & Community
Engagement Manager