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Mouth Diseases

Small tiny white spots/bumps on lips?

09/15/2006

Question:

I have small white spots/bumps on the corner of my lips. They can only be seen when I open my mouth. You can also see them on my upper lip, but only when I press on the lip; otherwise, they are invisible to regular site.

After a couple days I will usually get chapped lips especially at the corners of my mouth. Then it will go away and reoccur a couple weeks later. What could it be?

Answer:

You could have two different conditions. The small white dots of the upper lip are probably what are known as Fordyce granules. These are tiny sebaceous (oil) glands that are found to one degree or another in 9 out of 10 adults. They are perfectly normal.

The "chapping" at the corners of your mouth, also known as angular cheilitis, could be caused by a mild yeast infection. The yeast is called Candida albicans, and it is not related to the yeast that is used for baking (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) or brewing (Saccharomyces carlsbergensis). More information about oral yeast infections can be found at the website http://aaomp.org

In order to confirm these diagnoses and treat the yeast infection, it may be appropriate to see an oral pathologist. A listing can be found at the website listed above.

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Response by:

Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD
Professor of Oral Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University