If you think you have a canker sore on the lip, first off let’s be sure it is indeed a canker sore and not a cold sore. A simple way to figure it out is whether the sore is on the inner part of the lip – most likely a canker sore – or on the outside lip area – likely a cold sore, also known as a fever blister. Canker sores on the inside of the lip sometimes occur as a result of biting the lip, and you can also get these little ulcers on the inside the cheeks, on the tongue or gums or the roof of your mouth. Often the exact cause is unknown but fortunately you can’t spread them to other people or other body parts. The point to remember is that canker sores appears inside the mouth; if your sore is on the outside of the lip it is probably a cold sore, caused by the HSV-1 virus, and it is contagious.
A canker sore is an open ulcer, usually round and white or yellow, about the size of a pencil eraser or smaller, with a red border. Quite likely it will be painful. While it will usually go away on its own in a week or so, canker sores can make your life miserable and eating and drinking may be a chore.
Canker Sore Relief
There are a variety of things you can do to lessen the pain and speed the healing time. Depending on its exact location, a canker sore on the lip is a little easier to get remedies to “stick” to it versus on the tongue or inner cheeks. Some people swear by Anbesol Maximum Strength Oral Anesthetic Gel Instant Pain Relief or other similar numbing gels yo can find over the counter to numb the area and relieve the pain. Do not use a product such as Abreva, which is meant for cold sores and should only be used on the outside of the lip, it shouldn’t be ingested. Popular treatments you can try include swishing your mouth with a rinse made of half water and half hydrogen peroxide or salt water to help remove bacteria, or dab a little Milk of Magnesia or Kaopectate on the sore. It will help protect it and sooth the pain. You can also try putting a damp bag on your lip. The tannins in the tea may help relieve the pain. You should keep the tea bag in place as long as you can to let the tannins do their job. Other popular remedies include Gly-oxide Antiseptic Oral Cleanser , a product that contains hydrogen peroxide to kill bacteria and glycerin to coat and sooth the lip ulcer. Vitamin E oil applied directly to the lip sore will also protect it and aid in healing.
When to See a Doctor
While most of the time home treatments will do the job, if your canker sore is exceptionally painful and long-lasting, you may want to see your doctor for a prescription medication. There are special mouth rinses with chlorhexidine gluconate or dexamethasone that can help lessen the pain and inflammation. In extreme cases, such as lack of response to other treatments or recurring sores, your doctor may prescribe a steroid drug, which has strong anti-inflammatory properties, but it can have unwanted side-effects.
When you have a canker sore on your lip, it’s a good idea to avoid spicy foods or acidic foods such as vinegar, citrus, tomatoes, strawberries and pineapple, among others. Also, foods with sharp edges like chips and nuts and crackers can aggravate sores if they stick to the lip. It would be smart to stay away from them as well until your sore heals.