How to get rid of a pimple on your lip

Got a painful pimple on your lip and wondering, "Can you even get a pimple on your lip?" The answer is yes, as acne can form on the lip line, but it might also be a cold sore! Find out what causes pimples on lips, how to tell if it’s a cold sore or pimple, and how to get rid of a pimple on your lip.

What causes pimples on the lips?

As with acne on the rest of your face and body, pimples on the lips can pop up when your pores (AKA hair follicles) are clogged with excess oil (sebum) and dead skin cells. And if bacteria is involved, an inflamed pimple with pus may be on the horizon.

Pimples on the lip can also form because of these factors are at play:


Due to puberty, menstruation, pregnancy or starting/stopping birth control medications, fluctuations in hormones (especially Androgens) can increase skin inflammation, oil production, clogged skin cells and production of bacteria that causes acne. Hormonal acne is known to occur on the lower half of the face and that includes the lips!


Your genetics may determine how well your immune system can fight off P. acnes, a bacteria that leads to acne.

Holding objects against your face:

Anything from helmet straps to musical instruments to your cell phone, especially with repeated motion and pressure, can clog the pores around your lips.


Your face shaving cream or oil may irritate your sensitive skin and clog your pores. Pimples can arise from irritation alone so if you shave too fast or use a dull razor, acne can form.

Lip balm:

Greasy or oily lip balm or lipsticks, especially when applied outside the outline of the lips, can irritate the hair follicles around your lips, often leading to breakouts. Wax in lip balms and fragrances can also irritate the skin in this area.

Touching your lips frequently:

If you tend to touch your lips or area around it throughout the day while sitting at a desk or when you have a runny nose, the pressure, in addition to dirt and oils, can lead to a breakout.

Comedogenic products:

Makeup foundation, sunscreens and lotions that aren’t non-comedogenic can lead to clogged pores and eventually pimples. You may not realize it, but even oils or products in your hair can get on your pillowcase that you put your face (and your lips) on, further clogging your pores around your mouth.

Buildup of dry skin:

When you’re not regularly exfoliating your skin with physical or chemical exfoliants, the dead dry skin cells often mix with the excess oils in your pores and cause a clog.

Now that you know what can cause lip pimples, how do you know if it’s actually a pimple?

How to tell if it’s a pimple or cold sore

Lip pimples and cold sores can look quite similar.

Cold sores are tiny, blister-like lesions with intersectional circles so the border isn’t a perfect circle. It will usually look more like a blister than a pimple.

But if you can’t tell by looking at it, you’ll get a better sense by how it feels, as these lip bumps will tingle with a painful burning and itchy sensation. That’s all before they burst then crust over. Fun, right?

If you’re still not sure, keep an eye on where they appear. If you keep getting blemishes in the same spot, it’s most likely a cold sore, also known as a fever blister. If in doubt, ask your dermatologist!

Are you realizing now that it’s not a cold sore? Let’s get back on track to getting rid of pimples around your lips!

How to get rid of a pimple on your lip

The best thing you can do to help usher away this unwanted lip pimple is to use the appropriate skincare products with the right ingredients in your daily routine. Benzoyl peroxide helps kill the pimple-causing bacteria and reduce the inflammation in the pimple.

Proactiv Solution® Acne Treatment System features microcrystal benzoyl peroxide as the main ingredient in the Renewing Cleanser (step 1) and Repairing Treatment (step 3).

Something you can do to help reduce the pain, pressure and swelling of a lip pimple is to wrap ice in a clean towel and apply it directly to the pimple to calm things down a bit.

If you don’t know by now, you should know that picking at it only makes it worse, can lead to inflammatory acne lesions, and lengthens the healing time. But if the lip pimple is huge or you have an upcoming event and can’t wait to see that sucker disappear, go to a dermatologist.

How to prevent lip pimples

So the best thing about lip pimples is preventing them, right? Here are some tips to help:

  • Stick to a daily skincare routine with pimple preventing ingredients.
  • Shave after exfoliation and a hot shower or hot towel, slowly and carefully with a good quality shave gel.
  • Use oil-free, non-comedogenic and fragrance-free sunscreen, makeup and face products.
  • Use fragrance-free detergents on your pillowcases and change them twice a week or more.
  • Keep oily hair products — and your hair — out of your face.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Reduce stress levels even through stressful times.
  • Take the vitamin, zinc as studies have seen a correlation between low levels of zinc and acne.
  • Consider taking fish oil supplements as the omega 3 in it may help reduce oil production.

The bottom line

It’s important to know if that irritation around your lip is a pimple or a cold sore. Once you’ve determined that it’s a pimple, there are targeted products you can use and lifestyle adjustments you can make to get rid of those stubborn lip pimples and prevent them from rearing their nasty heads again!