A pimple on the lip and a cold sore may look similar; both a pimple and cold sore cause reddish bumps and make you feel uncomfortable. So, how to tell it is a cold sore or a pimple? Although similar, these are distinct skin disorders and require different treatments. There are a lot of differences between their causes, symptoms, and treatments.
This article discusses the clear differences between them and what you should do to eliminate these conditions. If you are unsure whether you have a cold sore or a pimple on the lip, it is best to consult your dermatologist for a proper diagnosis and correct treatment. Treating cold sore with remedies for pimples can slow down the skin’s healing process.
A pimple on Lip or Cold Sore? How to Tell the Difference
Here are some easy ways to tell them apart at home:
- The color of a cold sore is usually dark pink/
- A pimple usually has whiteheads and blackheads on it.
- Cold sores usually contain a few tiny blisters with clear fluid in them. And the liquids will seep out before the scab.
- A pimple is usually filled with pus.
- The herpes virus usually causes a cold sore.
- Pimples are usually caused by bacteria, dead skin cells, excess oil that block the skin pores.
3. Different Symptoms
- A pimple is a raised red bump, while a cold sore can grow bigger.
- A cold sore usually appears on your lower lip or upper lip, and it usually shows up in one area each time.
- A pimple can occurs anywhere on your face, not just on your lips.
- A cold sore may cause an itchy, tingling, or burning sensation.
- Pimples are usually tender and painful to touch.
- Cold sores can be transmitted through physical contact.
- Pimples are usually not contagious.
What is a Cold Sore
A cold sore, also known as herpes simplex or fever blisters, is a common viral infection described as small, blister-like lesions around or on your lips. They may also appear inside the nostrils, cheeks, chin, and roof of the mouth or gums in rare cases. Usually grouped in patches, a crust develops over the sore when the blisters pop or break.
The most common cause of cold sores is herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1). It can also be caused by HSV-2, which is commonly responsible for herpes in the genital area. Cold sores are highly contagious and can affect the genital area or mouth through oral sex.
An infected person can spread the virus even if there are no signs and symptoms. The virus usually remains dormant, but a trigger can activate the virus and cause the appearance of cold sores. The infection is most contagious when blisters are present, especially when oozing. The symptoms are usually clear within seven to ten days without treatment.
Although there is no cure for HSV infection, there are antiviral medications that can alleviate the symptoms and prevent the blisters from returning. The virus remains inactive but can be triggered by injury and fatigue.
Symptoms of Cold Sore
Most people have the herpes simplex virus but do not develop any signs. They will only know that they have it when the virus is triggered and cold sores appear.
A cold sore commonly go through different stages:
- Itching and tingling sensation. You may feel a burning, tingling, or itching sensation in the affected area a few days before spots or blisters appear.
- Blisters. Fluid-filled blisters tend to break out near the edge of the lips. It may also occur on the cheek, chin, or nose.
- Oozing and crusting. Patches of blisters may burst and leave small open sores that ooze fluid and dries over.
The first outbreak is the most severe and may take two to four weeks to heal. The blisters may recur on the same spots but less severe. During outbreaks, you may also experience:
- Blisters, lesions, or ulcers on tongue or mouth
- Mouth or tongue pain
- A sore throat
- A headache, nausea, fever
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Painful gums
- Muscle pain
Cold sores usually disappear without treatment. See a doctor if you have a compromised immune system, you experience severe symptoms, your cold sores do not heal after two weeks, and you experience eye irritation.
Treatments for Cold Sores
Although cold sores cannot be cured completely, they usually automatically disappear in 2-4 weeks; however, you can speed up the healing process with antiviral medications available in cream, ointment, and pill form.
Antiviral pills include:
- Acyclovir (Zovirax)
- Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
- Famciclovir (Famvir)
Ointments for alleviating the symptoms include:
- Acyclovir (Zovirax ointment)
- Penciclovir (Denavir)
There are also natural treatments that you can use to accelerate the healing process.
Green Tea Bags
The antioxidants and nutrients in green tea bags can assist in treating cold sores fast. Add one tea bag in a cup of hot water for a couple of minutes. Remove the tea bag and place it in the refrigerator. Drink the tea as you wait.
Once the teabag has cooled down, apply it to the cold sores for 10 minutes. Follow this treatment three times a day to get relief from itching and burning sensation.
Aloe vera contains antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and soothing properties that can help in treating herpes simplex virus infection.
To use this treatment, apply some fresh aloe vera gel to the affected area. Let it settle for a few minutes before washing off with water. Repeat the application three or more times a day to speed up the skin’s healing process.
Honey is often used for treating skin infections, including fever, blisters, and cold sores. It contains high levels of phenolic acid and flavonoids that combat the herpes simplex virus. You can apply some honey directly to the sore and leave it on for 5 minutes before rinsing with water. Another option is to consume one teaspoon of honey daily.
Whether you have a cold sore or a pimple on the lip, do not pop the blisters as this will spread the virus of bacteria.
What is a Pimple on the Lip?
A pimple on the lip, also known as zit, carbuncle, boil, and bleb, is an inflamed spot on the skin with pus in the center. It is a common skin condition when the hair follicles become clogged with dead skin cells and oil.
Pimples usually appear on your face, chest, neck, shoulders, and back. Unlike cold sores, pimples are noninfectious and are caused by localized bacterial overgrowth.
Pimples on the lip are most common among teenagers, but older adults and younger children may also develop them.
Symptoms of Pimple on the lip
Depending on the severity of the condition, some signs of a pimple or acne may include:
- Pus in the center that eventually drains
- Whiteheads or blackheads
- Nodules or painful, solid lumps beneath the surface of your skin
A pimple on the lip is larger than cold sores. You can easily differentiate the two by checking the formation of pus.
Causes of Pimples on Lips
The common causes of a pimple are bacteria, clogged pores, dead skin cells, excessive oil production, an allergic reaction, and hormonal imbalance.
Hair follicles and oil glands secrete sebum to keep the skin and hair lubricated. When the body produces a lot of sebum, it can make a soft plug in the hair follicles and dead skin cells. This blockage allows bacteria to thrive. Inflammation occurs when the clogged pore becomes infected and may cause the follicle wall to swell, producing a whitehead.
Some other reasons can lead to your lip pimples.
- Hormonal imbalance
The main cause of a pimple on the lip is excess sebum. If your hormones change quickly, the sebum production process will be disturbed. This can easily lead to clogged pores and infections on your skin. This is why many women tend to get a pimple on their lips.
Some foods such as whole-grain foods, coconut oil, and green leafy vegetables can help you balance your hormones.
- Allergic reaction
Some cosmetics, foods, and medicines can irritate your skin and lead to allergic reactions. You may notice inflammation, blisters, hives, itching, and redness around your lips or face. Some people with skin diseases such as rosacea are more prone to experience an allergic reaction.
You should try to avoid contact with these allergens. In addition, taking vitamin C can enhance your immunity and reduce allergic reactions.
Stress can affect your immune system and lead to pimples on your lip. According to a study published by Stanford University, stress can cause hormone levels to fluctuate, leading to acne on the skin. You should try to avoid stress. Running, swimming, yoga, and listening to music are all good methods to help you relax.
- Bad habits
Some bad habits may also cause pimples on lips. If you have a poor diet, the body may lack enough vitamins and minerals. You are more prone to acne if you often eat greasy, salty, and spicy foods. You should try to consume some foods rich in fatty acids, zinc, vitamin, and antioxidants.
In addition, the low-quality makeup can also lead to unsightly lip bumps. Try to avoid sleep before removing the makeup.
Home Remedies to Get Rid of Pimple on Lip
There are some anti-acne products that you can use to get rid of pimples on your face, but if you want to target a pimple on your lip, here specifically are some home remedies that you can do:
A pimple that becomes exposed to something cold will most likely shrink or be less inflamed to not be too noticeable.
How to use:
- Place an ice cube on a clean towel.
- Press the ice cube on the pimple found on your lip for a few minutes.
- You should do this several times a day to get the best results.
It seems that a pimple is not vulnerable to extreme temperatures, and this is something that you can use to your advantage so that you can get rid of a pimple on your lip soon.
The use of a hot compress can help soften your lip pimple, which will make it easier for you to remove. This is ideal if your lip pimple is extremely hard.
How to use:
- Dip a towel in hot water.
- Get rid of the excess heat.
- Place on the affected pimple.
It is already a known fact that if you want to get rid of acne soon, you need to make lemon juice. Lemon juice has citric acid that can be very effective in removing the bacteria that caused a pimple to appear in the first place.
At the same time, lemon juice has astringent properties. This can efficiently eliminate the excess oil found on the skin, thus reducing the appearance of more pimples.
How to use:
- You need to squeeze out the fresh lemon juice.
- Use a cotton swab and apply it to a pimple.
- Allow the lemon juice to dry. You do not need to remove it anymore.
- You can do this about 2 – 3 times a day for best results until the lemon juice gets removed.
There are different things that honey can do. A lot of home remedies contain honey for entirely different reasons. This time, honey can also be used to get rid of your lip pimple.
This is highly effective in getting rid of the various bacteria found on your face, no matter what the current bacteria strain is. It will also make the pH level near your lips low, so bacteria will not be able to live near your lips anymore.
How to use:
- You need to choose raw honey to make this very effective.
- Apply raw honey to a pimple.
- Do not wipe or remove the honey from a pimple.
- This should be done about 2 – 3 times every day to get the best results.
Tea Tree Oil
It should be noted that tea tree oil needs to be diluted before being placed on the pimple; otherwise, it will be too strong. Tea tree oil is usually one of the ingredients used by people to get rid of acne.
You may check your acne-fighting products and see tea tree oil as one of the main ingredients. This is highly effective in getting rid of the bacteria that cause the pimples to appear on the skin.
How to use:
- Mix tea tree oil with olive oil. If you do not have olive oil, coconut oil will be sufficient too.
- Apply to the affected area of the lips.
- Leave it on.
- Reapply twice a day to get the best results.
It was mentioned earlier that people might develop lip pimples when they use toothpaste high in fluoride. Still, toothpaste can also be one of the solutions so that lip pimples can be removed efficiently.
To lessen the possibility of fluoride, choose a non-gel toothpaste. Toothpaste contains baking soda and hydrogen peroxide that can help improve the condition of a pimple. It can make a pimple dry out faster.
How to use:
- Make sure that you clean your face first before applying toothpaste.
- Place the toothpaste on the pimple.
- Leave on the face for about 10 – 15 minutes.
- Wipe off with a wet towel.
- This should be done twice every day to get the best results.
Tomato contains antimicrobial properties that can be very effective in removing the bacteria that cause pimples to form. It also contains Vitamin C, which can be very effective in repairing damaged skin cells in the area where a lip pimple has formed.
How to use:
- You only need a small tomato, just enough to cover the area.
- Place the pulp and the juice on the pimple.
- After 10 – 15 minutes, rinse off the juice from a pimple.
- You can use the pulp and the juice throughout the day.
A lot of our ancestors have used turmeric for a long period. From the beginning, people know how much it can help as a home remedy. This time, it can also work on your lip pimple. It contains healing properties that can help heal your pimple faster than before.
The antimicrobial properties can also help get rid of the bacteria that caused a pimple. The best thing about using turmeric paste is that you will not see any scar after.
How to use:
- You can add a bit of water to the turmeric powder.
- Once you have mixed properly, place the paste on the pimple.
- Leave for as long as you can.
- If you cannot just leave the paste, you can remove it with water.
Many skin products contain Benzoyl Peroxide for the simple reason that it works well in fighting skin acne. This works in unclogging the pores, so whatever is causing your lip pimple will be unclogged and removed. This is also effective in removing other skin issues.
How to use:
- Wash the affected area first and make sure that it is clean before you use Benzoyl Peroxide.
- Only place a small amount of the gel on the affected area.
- Follow the directions placed on the tube about how long you will leave the gel in the area.
Do remember that not everyone can use this gel. If you believe that you have sensitive skin, it may not work as well as you would like. Always follow the instructions on the tube and the recommendations of your doctor just to be sure.
One of the things that castor oil can do is make sure that all of your skin’s impurities will be taken and removed. The impurities may include the bacteria that cause the acne to take place. It also has antibacterial properties, so it can help kill the bacteria that cause pimples on your lip area.
How to use:
- Add another essential oil to castor oil. You can choose coconut oil.
- Apply the mixture to your lip pimple.
- You can also place the mixture in the area around it to prevent a lip pimple from getting bigger.
- Leave on the castor oil with essential oil overnight.
- Rinse it off in the morning.
How to Pop a Pimple on Your Lip
Should you pop a pimple on your lip? Popping is the fastest way to remove a pimple from your lip. However, this is not the safest method. Squeezing a pus-filled pimple on your lip may lead to an infection of the skin, especially when a pimple is huge. This may make your lips red and swollen.
So, you’d better try to avoid popping your lip pimples. But if you still want to pop the pimples, here are some useful guidelines from a dermatologist.
- Prepare hot water, towels, alcohol swabs, needles, and pain reliever ointments.
- Wash your hands and soak the towels in hot water for a few minutes.
- Apply the warm towel to the swollen part of the lips for 5-10 minutes.
- Clean the lip pimple with an alcohol swab.
- Disinfect the needle with a flame, then clean the needle with an alcohol swab.
- Gently pierce the pimple head with the needle and gently squeeze the sides to push the pus out completely.
- Wipe the area with a clean alcohol swab.
- Apply some anti-inflammatory and analgesic creams to prevent infection.
- You can also take some antibiotic drugs to get rid of the swelling.
How to Prevent a Pimple on the Lip
The things that are mentioned above can help get rid of a lip pimple efficiently, but if you do not want to worry about getting a lip pimple ever again, you may want to do the following things:
- Be more careful of the things that you eat. Eat healthier food products and make sure to get enough water.
- Try to avoid squeezing the pimples, especially when your hands are dirty. The bacteria from a pimple will also spread. This can increase the number of pimples that you have in the lip area.
- Choose the right makeup that you are going to apply on your lips.
- Ensure that you will effectively remove the dead cells from your lips, especially before going to sleep at night. There are some homemade lip exfoliators you can use sugar or salt scrub. Remember to exfoliate gently.
- You may have to avoid stress to prevent having pimples.