Lip is a unique structure in the body because its surface within the oral cavity is a mucosal, then it leads to a middle muscular layer and finally there is an outer mucosal layer which makes the red lip. Lip is very important aesthetically since very small changes from normal becomes readily noticeable to any eye.
Cold sore is a very common lesion presented as a painful blister on the lip and inside the mouth. There are two types of herpes simplex virus (HSV) and type 1 causes most cases of cold sore. Cold sores are also known as fever blisters. A number of other conditions may lead to development of blisters on the lip.
Manipulation and repeated trauma can irritate the lip and produce local redness and tenderness. If bacteria are introduced under the covering epithelium, then a local infection accompanied by redness and pain develops similar to other parts of the body. It is not uncommon to see blisters with such infections.
A number of autoimmune diseases can also present with lip lesions. Discoid lip lesions are seen in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). They are plaque-like lesions that show pigment alteration and stand out from the normal lip. They might become scaly and photosensitive. Occasionally they become painful but almost always accompany other features of SLE to guide towards the diagnosis.
A number of diseases can cause a secondary infection of the lip. The most important example is impetigo which is common in young children.
There are a number of syndromes that are not common but could be presented with lesions on the lips.
Some lesions can develop on the lip that are the result of continuous trauma. Mucocele is an example of a lesion that usually develops following a mild bite on the lip. They usually develop on the lower lip and can grow into different sizes.
Lips can also become inflamed and irritated. Chronic licking of the lip in children causes repeated irritant dermatitis of the lip. Other causes of cheilitis, which is redness and scaling of the lip, is the side effect of some drug treatments, notably, retinoids and isotretinoin that is used in treatment of severe acne. Allergies can also create similar symptoms. Some allergic reactions can produce local edema of the lips which could be life-threatening in severe cases since it could be accompanied by edema of the airway. Wind-burn is an occasional cause of cheilitis.
A benign neoplasm that might develop on the lip is the Fordyce spots. They are thought to have sebaceous gland etiology. They might be isolated or scattered in white to yellowish color. A very important diagnosis for a lesion of the upper or lower lip is the lip cancer such as a squamous cell carcinoma. These lesions tend to become ulcerated like a small wound and they are often associated with pain. So don't forget to see your doctor if you develop a lip lesion that does not go away.
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