Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 12/09/2020
There are certain locations on your body and face where pimples are most painful.
That corner of your nose, in the middle of your back just out of reach, and on your lip — these spots contend for the worst possible place to get a zit.
It’s understandable you’d want to eliminate a lip pimple as quickly as possible. But picking or popping it won’t do you any favors.
Treating a single blemish can be as simple as a spot treatment.
But if you’re prone to common acne breakouts, a skin care routine and input from a medical professional may provide longer-lasting results.
In the meantime, here is some advice on dealing with that pesky bump in your lip area.
Before you begin treating your “pimple,” take steps to ensure it actually is a pimple. A cold sore won’t respond to acne treatments.
Cold sores are also referred to as fever blisters. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus.
Unlike a pimple, a cold sore will typically appear as one or a small grouping of tiny blisters with a red base.
Like a pimple, they may have a “head” or a fluid-filled center that appears clear or yellow.
They’re common on the lips, chin, and under the nose. Cold sores generally last one to two weeks, and are typically more painful than pimples.
If you’re unsure, a healthcare provider can confirm if there’s a chance your “pimple” is actually a cold sore, and prescribe medications to treat it.
So you’ve ruled out a cold sore. “I know what a pimple looks like!” There are several effective treatment options for pimples, or acne. In the short-term, to help your current lip pimple, consider the following advice from the American Academy of Dermatology:
Always wash your hands before applying medication or treatment to a pimple.
Apply ice to the pimple to reduce pain and swelling for five to 10 minutes at a time.
Apply a spot treatment like over-the-counter benzoyl peroxide.
When the pimple begins to come to a head, apply a warm compress (a washcloth soaked in warm water) to encourage the pimple to burst on its own.
Do not pick, pop, or squeeze your pimple.
Pimples don’t last forever, so treating a single blemish is generally about making it more tolerable through its lifecycle. But if you often have more than a single pimple, a larger treatment plan may be warranted.
Generally, pimples bring friends. And if this is the case, and you often struggle with pimples, a more systematic approach will bring longer-term benefits and reduce the frequency and severity of your acne breakouts.
There are several different options for managing acne over the long-term. Talking with a dermatologist or healthcare provider can ensure you choose the right medication, and don’t waste time with too much trial and error.
Benzoyl peroxide: Mentioned above, benzoyl peroxide can be found online or in drug stores without a prescription. It’s a drying agent that kills bacteria. It is often used in conjunction with prescription medications, and is most effective for mild to moderate acne.
Retinoids: Retinoids including tretinoin and adapalene, for example, are prescription topical treatments that prevent and reduce the number of acne lesions and fight inflammation. They’ve been on the market for more than 30 years, and are often a healthcare professional’s first choice in the treatment of mild to moderate inflammatory acne.
Antibiotics: Although some antibiotics are available in topical formulas, systemic antibiotics (those taken orally) are often prescribed to treat moderate to severe acne. Antibiotics are oftentimes used in conjunction with retinoids and aren’t prescribed on a long-term basis, as they can lead to antibiotic resistance.
Oral contraceptives: Birth control pills can be used to manage acne, particularly in women who have flare-ups around their menstrual cycle.
There are additional acne treatments available. These mainly represent the most widely-used. Struggling with acne — whether it’s an occasional pimple on your lip, or embarrassing break-outs — can be costly and stressful.
Talk with a healthcare provider or dermatology practitioner to get ahead of the cycle, and discover clear skin.
All pimples are inconvenient, but a pimple on your lip can be both unsightly and a quick jab to your confidence.
On the unfortunate occasion you find yourself with a pimple on your lip, it’s important to understand how to distinguish a simple pimple between a cold sore.
Once you determine you are, in fact, dealing with a pimple, treatment is simple and there are plenty of options out there to help you — from spot treatments, to oral antibiotics and even birth control.
If your pimple is particularly problematic, occurs frequently or is resistant to at-home treatment options, your best bet is to contact your healthcare provider or a certified dermatology practitioner.