Lip lesions are cuts or other abnormal openings in the lip surface that are often painful and susceptible to bleeding. Injury to the lip via biting or other harsh contact causes a large percentage of lesions. Lip dryness is another common factor in developing lip wounds. Sometimes, a lesion on the lip may appear as a symptom of an infection or other medical condition. Such ailments might include digestive disorders, inflammatory conditions, or cancer.
Simple injury is a frequent cause of lip lesions or any other type of mouth lesion. Since lip skin is sensitive and vulnerable, any harsh contact like biting the lip or repeated rubbing with an abrasive material can open the skin surface. In addition, substances brought to the mouth and lips that contain certain chemicals may leave the lips vulnerable. For example, spicy foods or toothpastes containing sodium lauryl sulfate can cause lesion problems. These types of lesions will often appear just inside the lip area as a white, painful canker sore.
Infections can also cause mouth lesions, including lip lesions. Perhaps the most common infectious agent responsible for lip lesions is the herpes simplex virus. This viral agent attacks the mouth’s mucous membranes, causing water-filled blisters when it strikes. A yeast infection may also cause bleeding white patches called oral thrush, but this particular condition is typically found inside the mouth.
Disorders of the digestive system can adversely impact the lips and mouth as well. Namely, Crohn’s disease can facilitate painful mouth ulcers. The condition results from inflammation of the digestive tract, usually starting in the small intestine. Intestinal dysfunction can also cause improper nutrient absorption in a condition called celiac disease, of which lip lesions are a primary indicator.
Other medical conditions may also create lip lesion conditions. A skin inflammation disease called erythema multiforme can form nodes on the lips as well as the limbs, eyes, and genitals. Other inflammatory disorders with unknown causes such as chellitis glandularis and chellitis granulomatosa can cause lip swelling and crusting. In addition, the sexually transmitted diseases gonorrhea and syphilis may produce crater ulcers and swellings on the lips, gums, and tongue. An abnormal urinary discharge can further accompany these particular conditions.
A basic cause of lip lesions is dryness. The lips must remain moist in order to maintain proper texture and functioning. When weather or health conditions cause the lips to dry out, they become cracked. Such problems can be corrected by moistening the lips with lip balm or similar substances.
On rare occasions, a lesion on the lower lip may indicate the cancer squamous cell carcinoma. This particular lesion type is often raised and painless. Heavy smoking or alcohol consumption can heighten risks for this occurrence.