Close up of woman's lips with no pimples or acne

Why You’re Breaking Out on Your Lip Line & What To Do About It

Are pesky pimples popping up on your lip line? It could be your skincare products triggering it. Learn how to treat pimples on lips today.
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When it comes to the types of breakouts you can get, lip pimples are arguably among the most frustrating ones out there. Not only do they somehow manage to hurt a million times more than zits on other parts of your body, but they can also take a major toll on your self-esteem – as well as your personal life!

After all, it’s kinda hard to want to kiss your special someone when your lip is throbbing, swollen, and painful. Even worse, these types of breakouts seem to want to stick around long past their welcome, which means that you’re playing a (not-so-patient) waiting game for it to finally vanish again.

If you have pimples on your lip line, then it’s understandable to want to get rid of them for good. But before you can do that, you first need to know the main causes of acne around the mouth and the best way to treat them. Let’s go ahead and take a close look at the source of your breakouts so we can get you back on your path to smooth, zit-free, kissable lips once more!

Pimples on Lip Line: What Are the Causes?

When we think of clogged pores, we generally tend to think of our cheeks or forehead or even our noses. After all, that’s where most of our breakouts tend to show up. However, our lips (as well as the area around them) have pores and sebaceous glands, and therefore are also prone to acne blemishes, too.1

And sebaceous oil glands, as you probably already know, secrete sebum and are incredibly vulnerable to bacterial infections. This means that if you are already susceptible to breakouts, and you expose that part of your face to anything that can cause a zit, then you’re all but inevitably going to get pimples on the lip line. Once a sebaceous gland becomes infected, that’s when small lip bumps around the mouth will start to form. In some cases, the lip area can also develop full blown breakouts and severe acne.

Some of these more common triggers for a pimple around the lips include:

  • Your beauty products. Some types of skin creams and lip balms can contain highly comedogenic, pore-clogging ingredients (like coconut oil), which can cause breakouts.
  • Your hormones. If you have a hormonal imbalance that raises your androgen levels, it could lead to blemishes around your lips.2 In order to get rid of lip bumps, you must first treat the underlying causes of your hormonal imbalance
  • Your dietary preferences. Not only are certain foods inflammatory and can increase your chances of breakouts, but those oily foods can also clog pores, too.3Consider following a hormonal acne diet if you suffer from acne around your lip area.
  • Your current medications. Both oral and topical medicines can lead to breakouts, especially if they’re hormonal in nature (such as if they contain testosterone, for instance) or they’re in a rich cream formula.4Be sure to talk to your doctor about the side effects of your medication to make sure it does not cause your lip bumps or an allergic reaction. 
  • Your stress levels. If you’re under a lot of stress or feeling super anxious lately, it can raise your cortisol levels and lead to a crop of blemishes around your lips.5

If you’ve been noticing an uptick in how many blemishes you’re getting around your mouth, then it’s not a bad idea to take a closer look at your diet and lifestyle. Any of these factors can lead to breakouts, and if you’ve got more than one of them in your life, then you’re basically setting out a welcome mat for pimples around the lip and across your face.

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Difference Between Pimples and Cold Sores

Many people mistake acne breakouts for a cold sore or canker sore, but they’re actually really different from one another. Other than being red, painful, and manifesting on or around your lips, they actually have very little else in common with each other. For starters, a cold sore is caused by a virus – the herpes simplex type 1 virus, to be precise.6

Acne breakouts, on the other hand, are generally caused by a pore-clogging ingredient like shea butter or coconut oil + bacteria. When dead skin cells clog a hair follicle or create a clogged pore, acne forms. Furthermore, acne tends to have just one single lesion, though some can have multiple pustules at the site. Conversely, cold sores generally have several vesicles (fluid-filled sacs) cropping up during an outbreak.

Finally, they do feel much different from one another. Acne breakouts tend to be sore and tender, but cold sores tend to be itchy or tingly on top of that soreness. You’ll also want to be very careful when treating or touching your cold sores, as they’re highly contagious and can be easily spread to other parts of your body.

How to Get Rid of a Pimple Around Your Lips

So you’ve got a big ole pimple above the lip, and you’re feeling motivated to get rid of it. Whether it’s because you’ve got a big presentation coming up at work, or there’s a hot date with that cutie that lives just down the block, lip breakouts can be a major bummer. The good news, though, is there are a few ways to get rid of them fast.

Wash Your Face Twice a Day

We know you’re probably sick and tired of being told to wash your face if you have acne, especially since acne is more than just having “dirty” skin, but you’d be surprised at how effective it can be in treating lip blemishes. By clearing off all of that sebum (or rather, skin oil), dead skin cells, and bacteria, you can help heal your lip zit that much faster.

On that note, if you do exercise regularly or work at a sweaty job, feel free to wash your face an extra time during the day. Just be sure to use a gentle cleanser without harsh surfactants, and follow with a moisturizer (and reapply your mineral sunscreen if you’re out in the sun!). That way, your skin stays clean without destroying your acid mantle.

Keep Your Hair Away From Your Face

If you’ve got long, luscious locks, then it’s likely that you’re extremely proud of them and like to take good care of your tresses. However, if you tend to use heavy creams or serums on it, those products can rub off onto your face and lead to breakouts. Instead of letting it hang loose, why not try a cute hairband or barrette to keep it off your skin?7

Keep Your Hands Off Your Face, Too!

When you have a massive zit on or around your lip, it’s tempting to want to get up in there and try to squeeze all of the yuck out of it. Please resist this urge, though. This is an extremely bad idea for two big reasons.

One, your hands are pretty dirty, whether you realize it or not. You touch a lot of things every day, and even if you wash your hands frequently, you still have dirt and germs and other questionable stuff sticking to your fingers. If you touch your blemish, you can transfer that grime right onto your face and make your breakout worse.8

Then two, picking at a zit can actually push that bacteria and infection further into your skin. This can lead to a huge infection, too, and delay healing. If you want to get rid of your lip blemish quickly, then try to keep your hands far, far away from it.7

Use Topical Treatments On Your Breakouts

If your lip blemish is bothering you, why not try treating it with over-the-counter acne medications? Alpha and beta hydroxy acids are great for unclogging pores and clearing acne, and if used regularly, they can help prevent them from occurring in the first place!9 CLEARSTEM’s mandelic acid serum with AHA may be just what you need. 😉

Consider Nutritional Supplements, As Well

Oftentimes, acne breakouts are caused by hormonal imbalances, and getting a pimple above the lip is no different. Certain nutritional supplements can be great for clearing your acne, especially if they contain the right combination of ingredients. A good hormonal acne supplement should include good-for-you stuff like vitamins B5 and A, DIM, glutathione, and 5-HTP.10

Look Out For Pore Clogging Ingredients in Lip Products!

Sometimes breakouts on the lip can come out of seemingly nowhere, with no real point of origin. Other times, you can trace them back to one, single cause. If your lip breakouts have started since introducing new cosmetics or lip products into your beauty routine, then congratulations: you have just figured out what’s causing your lip acne!

A lot of beauty products can make these huge, lofty claims about how they’re going to do this or that for your skin and promise you the lipstick or balm of your dreams. The ingredient list can look great, too, and be chock full o’ rich emollients and moisturizers. While they can seem fine at a glance, though, they may actually contain hidden blemish-triggers. That’s why it's so important to check your products to see if they contain ingredients that cause acne breakouts. 

Before you start using any new skincare or makeup product, flip the bottle or tube over and take the time to familiarize yourself with what’s in it. If you find any hidden pore-clogging ingredients in it, put it back on the shelf and reach for one that is more acne-friendly. And hey, don’t be so hard on yourself for your honest mistake – these things can be sneaky and can trick even the most seasoned and savvy beauty guru!

Re-evaluate Your Diet and Lifestyle

Finally, the best way to get rid of a pimple above the lip is to prevent it from showing up in the first place. There are a lot of things that can serve as a catalyst for breakouts, such as your diet and your lifestyle. Sugar and dairy, for instance, can lead to breakouts.3

If you’re not getting enough sleep at night, that can also cause acne to form near your lip. Stress is also a major trigger for blemishes, as is the environment around you (such as if you live in a super humid climate, or the air quality isn’t that great). A minor lifestyle change can work wonders in getting rid of the zits around your lip – as well as across the rest of your face.11


When it comes to acne around your lips, it’s clear that there are a lot of things that can be causing it. From your diet and your lifestyle to the creams and lotions you put on your face, it seems like virtually everything is a breakout waiting to happen. 

The good news, though, is that these types of breakouts are both easy to prevent and much easier to treat than you may have initially realized. If you have a pimple above the lip, a few modifications to your lifestyle – as well as some targeted treatments – can make all the difference in your complexion.

Listen, we completely understand. Nobody wants a huge, angry zit on their lip, especially if they’re thinking about sharing some smooches with a loved one anytime soon. But by being proactive about your skincare routine, you can finally enjoy blemish-free lips (and lots of kisses from those you care about, too!) in the very near future.


  1. Anatomy, Head and Neck, Lips - StatPearls.
  2. Adult female acne: a guide to clinical practice.
  3. Effects of Diet on Acne and Its Response to Treatment.
  4. Acne Vulgaris - StatPearls.
  5. The association between stress and acne among female medical students in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
  6. Cold sores: Overview.
  7. Understanding Acne.
  8. Efficacy of Removing Bacteria and Organic Dirt from Hands—A Study Based on Bioluminescence Measurements for Evaluation of Hand Hygiene When Cooking.
  9. Dual Effects of Alpha-Hydroxy Acids on the Skin.
  10. Hormonal treatment of acne vulgaris: an update.
  11. Acne Severity and Sleep Quality in Adults.