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Cystic Acne on Lips (Causes, Treatments and More)

The unwelcome presence of cystic acne on the lip often mars the beauty of a smile. These pesky blemishes can strike at the worst times like any other pimple. However, the lip area presents a unique challenge due to its sensitivity and exposure to various products and bacteria. 

Our lips deserve as much care as any other parts of our body, so let us take a journey through the world of lip pimples and breakouts to find out what causes them, how to treat them, and the steps you can take to prevent lip pimples in the future.

Also read: How to choose the best acne treatment

Biggest Take-Aways:

  • Cystic acne on the lip is caused by a variety of factors, including pore-clogging substances, physical irritation, and inflammation. It's also important to distinguish it from cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus.
  • Over-the-counter treatments, spot treatments, lip-safe cleansers, and oral medication can effectively treat pimples on the lip.
  • Regular exfoliation, choosing non-comedogenic lip products, and maintaining hydration are key preventative measures for lip pimples.
  • Exposed Skin Care is a comprehensive acne management system that treats existing breakouts and works proactively to prevent future ones, making it an effective solution for lip acne.

Close up for lips with acne

Unmasking the Causes of Cystic Acne on Lips

When it comes to cystic acne on lips, several factors play a significant role in their formation. Understanding the common causes of pimples will help you navigate the journey to clear skin. 

Irritation and Inflammation

  • Physical Irritation: Scrubbing your lips excessively or picking at a pimple on your lip can irritate your skin and cause acne.

  • Inflammation: Anything that can inflame the follicle walls, such as bacteria, can cause a pimple around your lips.

Pore-Clogging Culprits

A pimple on or around your lip is formed when the follicles, also known as hair follicles, get clogged. When the pore is blocked, oil builds up, causing the skin to inflame, and a zit is formed. Pore-clogging culprits include:

  • Dead Skin: The buildup of dead skin can clog pores, leading to pimples on the lip line.

  • Lip Products: Certain lip balms, lip gloss, and other lip products may cause pimples. If they contain pore-clogging ingredients, they may lead to breakouts around the lip.

  • Makeup Residue: Not washing your face properly or leaving makeup on can cause pimples around the lip area.

Woman putting on lipstick

Herpes Simplex Virus

It's crucial to distinguish between a pimple on my lip and a cold sore. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). While they may look like pimples, cold sores typically cause a blister-like sore and are usually found near your lip rather than on the lip itself.

A Deep Dive into Treatment Options for Cystic Acne on Lips

When you get a pimple on your lip, it's tempting to pop it immediately. However, this could lead to further irritation and possible scarring. There are safer ways to eliminate pimples, so let's explore some effective treatments for pimples on your lip.

Over-the-Counter Treatments

Many over-the-counter products can help you eliminate a pimple on your lip. Two of the most common ingredients used to treat acne include:

  • Salicylic Acid: This ingredient works by helping the skin shed dead cells from the top layer and slowing down the shedding of cells inside the follicle, which can prevent clogs.

  • Benzoyl Peroxide: It acts as an antiseptic and oxygenator to reduce the number of bacteria and remove dead skin cells, reducing inflammation.

Image of hand holding skin serums

Spot Treatments

Spot treatments can be applied directly to the pimple for a more concentrated effect. These products may contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or sulfur.

Lip-Safe Cleansers

Choose a lip-safe cleanser that can gently exfoliate your lips without causing unnecessary irritation. This can help to remove any potential pore-clogging elements, such as dead skin cells.

Oral Medication

Oral herpes or cold sores require antiviral medications. If your lip blemish looks more like a blister and less like a white head, you may have a cold sore rather than a pimple. This will require different treatments, so ensure you get the correct diagnosis.

Preventative Measures for Cystic Acne on Lips

After treating your current breakout, you may ask yourself, "How can I prevent lip pimples?" Here's how to get rid of future breakouts:

Choose Non-Comedogenic Products

Non-comedogenic lip products are designed to avoid clogging the pores around the lips. Using these products may reduce your chances of developing acne around your lip.

Side view image of woman putting lip product

Regular Exfoliation

You can remove dead skin cells by gently exfoliating your lips, which may cause acne if they accumulate. However, remember that the skin around your lips is delicate. Therefore, avoid scrubbing your lips too hard.

Hydration and Healthy Habits

Ensure to keep your lips and the skin around your lips well-hydrated. Using a hydrating lip balm can help with this. Also, remember to wash your face regularly to prevent buildup that may clog pores and cause pimples.

Lifestyle Modifications for Managing Cystic Acne on Lips

Another crucial aspect of managing and preventing cystic acne on lips involves making certain lifestyle changes. These modifications may seem small but can significantly impact the frequency and severity of your breakouts.

Dietary Considerations

Our diet plays a significant role in our overall skin health. Certain foods may cause inflammation, which can lead to acne. Conversely, other foods are known for their skin-enhancing benefits.

  • Limit Sugar and Dairy: Foods high in sugar and dairy products have been linked to acne breakouts. Try to minimize your intake of these foods to keep your skin clear.

  • Increase Water Intake: Hydration is crucial for skin health. Drink enough water daily to keep your skin hydrated and help flush out toxins.

Image of man pouring water to glass

  • Healthy Fats: Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, like fish and avocados, can help reduce inflammation and potentially prevent acne breakouts.

Incorporating these lifestyle modifications, a targeted skincare routine, and the right products can make a significant difference in managing cystic acne on lips. It's all about a comprehensive approach that combines skincare, diet, and stress management for the best results.

The Benefits of Exposed Skin Care for Acne Management

When managing acne breakouts, especially lip acne, Exposed Skin Care presents a powerhouse solution. 

Exposed Skin Care Basic Kit

This comprehensive acne system comes with multiple benefits:

  • Targeted Treatment: Exposed Skin Care offers a unique pimple treatment suitable for various parts of your body, including those prone to acne, such as the lips. So, if you often get lip pimples or struggle with lip breakouts, this product line can help.

  • Effective Ingredients: The creams and treatments in the line are formulated with potent acne-fighting ingredients that tackle the root cause of pimples even in their most severe forms.

  • Preventative Action: Regular use of these products not only help you get rid of lip pimples but also reduces the chance of future breakouts. It's a proactive step towards preventing rather than just treating pimples.

  • Holistic Approach: Unlike a thick lip balm that may clog pores and lead to more pimples, Exposed Skin Care products are lightweight and formulated to avoid clogging.

As an added perk, you may earn rewards with every purchase from Exposed Skin Care, making this a win-win for your skin and wallet!


Navigating the complex world of cystic acne, particularly a pimple on the lip, can be quite the journey. The sensitive and often exposed lip area can easily get pimples, causing discomfort and affecting overall confidence. Understanding the different causes, such as pore-clogging dead skin, irritating lip products, and even viruses, is the first step towards better skin health.

While over-the-counter treatments and home care play a vital role, it's equally crucial to consider effective acne management systems such as Exposed Skin Care. It can effectively address the root causes, treat existing acne, and prevent future breakouts, ultimately leading to healthier skin.

Everyone's skin is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. It's all about finding the right balance and routine that caters to your skin's specific needs. But no matter how overwhelming the presence of a pus-filled pimple might seem, with the right knowledge, treatments, and preventive measures, you can effectively manage and maintain clear, healthy lips. Happy skincare journey to you!


Q: Why are lip pimples painful?

A: The skin around the mouth and lips is very sensitive. When a zit forms, it can cause the area to swell and become tender or painful.

Q: Are pimples and cold sores the same?

A: No, pimples and cold sores are not the same. Clogged pores cause pimples, while the herpes simplex virus causes cold sores.

Q: How can I tell if it’s a pimple or a cold sore?

A: Cold sores typically start as a blister and are usually located around the mouth, not directly on the lips. On the other hand, a pimple can also form a white head, but it won't turn into a blister-like a cold sore.

Q: Can I pop a pimple on my lip?

A: It's best not to pop a pimple, as it can lead to further irritation, possible infection, and even scarring. Instead, consider using an acne treatment like Exposed Skin Care.