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Zit on lip, could it be cold sore?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 1998
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I have what I thought was a zit on the edge of my lip, but now I can't tell if I should be more concerned about it. So, how do you tell the difference between a zit, other skin condition, and a cold sore? I've never had a cold sore. In college, I had something similar, but all blood work came back negative.

Age: 28
Height: 5'-9"
Posted Wed, 11 Apr 2012 in Skin Hair and Nails
 
 
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 21 minutes later
Hello,

Thanks for posting your query. On the edges of lips, there are small hair follicles. A zit can arise from these small hair follicles and cause folliculitis or a boil. Folliculitis is the inflammation of one or more hair follicles. In most cases of folliculitis, the damaged follicles are then infected with the bacteria Staphylococcus (staph) and cause a small red raised bump which may have a white pus like discharge and a hair in the centre.


Boils are caused by infection of the hair follicle by staph aureus. A boil generally starts as a reddened, tender area. Over time, the area becomes firm and hard. Eventually, the center of the abscess softens and becomes filled with pus. In size it is larger than a folliculitis.

Cold sores are caused by the tingling, or itching occurs at the infection site before the sores appear. Then clusters of blisters erupt which break down and scab over.

Another skin condition which may cause bumps on the edges of lips is of impetigo caused by streptococcus (strep) or staphylococcus (staph) bacteria. It presents as a single or many blisters filled with pus which are easy to pop, filled with yellow or honey-colored fluid and oozing and crusting over.


To confirm the diagnosis we need to do a culture sensitivity of the discharge from the bump. If it is folliculitis, impetigo or boils, it will come out positive on bacterial cultures. For cold sores, you need to get some investigations like sample from the sores to identify the virus, culture analysis, Tzanck smear, antigen and antibody studies and blood sampling for antibody studies done to confirm the diagnosis.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your queries.

Wishing you good health.







Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Zit on lip, could it be cold sore? 16 hours later
Thanks for the information. I went to a doctor this morning and he said he thought it was bacterial so he gave me an antibiotic. I decided to get a second opinion and the lady I talked to couldn't officially give me a second opinion. At first she didn't see the bump that I was talking about. Without doing an exam, she said it kind of looked like a cold sore, but that my symptoms don't sound like that of a cold sore. When I first noticed it (3 days ago), it felt like a zit that was under the skin and it had what looked like white pus underneath. Up until yesterday, it was sensitive to touch just like a zit. Now, you can't see any sort of whitehead/pus. It just looks like a red dot, and doesn't hurt to touch. In the morning, it looks like it's gone, but by the afternoon, it's there again. I started putting on Abreva and haven't noticed any change. There's no blister. As I mentioned before, I've never had a cold sore and all blood work has come back neg. Could this be a mild cold sore? I've been told that not all cold sores hurt. I'm sorry. I know I'm overreacting. I had dinner with a friend last week who had one. We didn't share glasses or utensils, but I did have a bite from his plate from the side that he hadn't touched (or at least I thought). Is HSV1 that easily spread?
 
 
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 12 hours later
Hello,

Thanks for writing back.

From the symptoms it looks like a bacterial sore due to infected hair follicle or a small boil. It does not look like a cold sore which typically presents as blisters. Moreover, before the appearance of herpes the area below the skin's surface, where the cold sore is going to appear, starts to tingle, itch, or burn. Your blood work has also come negative. So chances of this bumps being due to herpes is less.
The best test for confirmation is by sample from the sores to identify the virus, culture analysis, Tzanck smear, antigen and antibody studies and blood sampling for antibody studies done to confirm the diagnosis.

HSV-1 does not survive long at all outside the human body. The virus is generally transmitted through direct contact with saliva of an infected person like kissing, direct exposure to saliva or even from droplets in breath, sharing toothbrushes or eating utensils with an infected person.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your queries.

Wishing you good health.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
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