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Bump inside lip: Symptom, Causes & Treatments

May 22, 2023Oral health

Bump inside lip

An oral mucocele, also referred to as a mucous cyst, is a harmless and painless cyst filled with fluid located on the inner surfaces of the mouth. These blisters are most commonly found on the inner part of the lower lip, but they may also appear on the inner cheeks, tongue, gums, or floor of the mouth.

An oral mucocele, or mucous cyst, is typically caused by minor trauma, such as biting one’s lip. When an injury to the mouth occurs, it can lead to damage or obstruction of a salivary gland. The buildup of saliva from the affected gland can then cause a cyst to form.

It is common for oral mucoceles to subside without treatment; however, large cysts can create difficulties with communication, eating, and in rare circumstances, breathing. For this reason, it is recommended that those with larger oral mucoceles seek professional assistance to have them removed.

Oral mucoceles are most commonly found in individuals under 30 years of age; however, individuals of all ages may be affected. Of the cases reported, 70% involve people between 3 and 20 years old, with the highest occurrence rate among 10 to 20 year olds.


What are the symptoms of mucous cysts?

Mucous cyst symptoms can range in intensity depending on the depth of the cyst and the frequency with which they occur. While many cysts are painless, there may be some discomfort associated with them. Prolonged recurrence of cysts may eventually lead to pain.

Symptoms of cysts located close to the surface of the skin may include:

  • raised swelling
  • bluish color
  • softness
  • lesions less than 1 centimeter in diameter

Signs and symptoms of cysts located beneath the surface of the skin may include:

  • rounded shape
  • whitish color
  • tenderness


What causes an oral mucocele?

Mucous cysts, commonly referred to as oral mucoceles, may be caused by trauma to the salivary glands or a blockage of a salivary gland opening (duct). Injury to the salivary glands can impede the normal flow of saliva, resulting in an accumulation of saliva that forms a cyst.

Trauma is one of the most frequent causes of oral mucoceles, which can be the result of biting one’s lip during chewing. Additional factors associated with oral mucoceles include:

  • A lip-biting or lip-sucking habit.
  • Chronic inflammation can be caused by smoking or using tobacco products over a prolonged period of time.
  • Thickened or damaged salivary ducts.
  • cheek biting

A lack of adequate dental hygiene, as well as habitual lip or cheek biting associated with stress, can increase one’s chances of developing mucous cysts. In certain cases, these cysts may develop as an adverse reaction to the use of tartar-control toothpaste.

Mucous cysts are a common occurrence, particularly among individuals between the ages of 10 and 25. However, they may also develop in individuals of any age, with no gender bias in regards to occurrence.


How are mucous cysts diagnosed?

Based on your symptoms and a physical examination, your healthcare provider will diagnose an oral mucocele. Generally speaking, they will be able to determine the condition simply by visual inspection but may opt for additional tests to confirm the diagnosis. Such tests may include:

  • Ultrasound
  • Biopsy
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan

Doctors rely on clinical symptoms to accurately diagnose any condition or illness. When assessing the situation, your doctor may inquire about past trauma that could be associated with biting of the lips. Your response to this question will help in obtaining an accurate diagnosis.

In certain situations, a biopsy of the cyst may be necessary to make an accurate diagnosis. This procedure will involve your doctor taking a tissue sample which will then be analyzed using a microscope. Through a close examination of the cells, doctors can ascertain whether the cyst is cancerous or not.

In certain cases, physicians may recommend a biopsy to provide

  • A mucous cyst measuring more than 2 centimeters in size.
  • A visual examination of the cyst indicates a potential diagnosis of either adenoma (cancer) or lipoma.
  • There is no record of any prior traumas.


How are mucous cysts treated?

Treatment for mucous cysts depends on the severity of the cyst. In some cases, no treatment is necessary and the cyst may heal spontaneously over time. Generally, superficial mucous cysts often resolve on their own. It is strongly recommended against attempting to open or remove cysts at home as this may lead to infection or tissue damage. Individuals who have frequent or recurring cysts may need to seek additional medical treatment.

For mucous cysts that are not overly severe, treatments may include:

  • Laser therapy: This treatment utilizes a specialized, narrow beam of light to eliminate the cyst.
  • Cryotherapy: This treatment utilizes cryogenic freezing to eliminate cyst tissue.
  • Intralesional corticosteroid injection: This treatment involves injecting a steroid into the cyst in order to reduce inflammation and promote quicker healing.

In order to reduce the chance of recurrence, or in cases of particularly severe cysts, surgical removal of the cyst and/or entire salivary gland may be recommended by a physician.

The healing period for mucous cysts may range from one week to two years, depending on the type and severity of the cyst.

Once a cyst has healed, the only sure way to avoid it from recurring is through surgical removal. It is also recommended to avoid any habits such as biting of the lips or cheeks that could potentially cause future cysts.


Recovering from oral mucocele treatment

The amount of time required to recover following any treatment will vary depending on the type of procedure performed. For example, after having cryotherapy or laser treatment, your healthcare provider may recommend that you follow a liquid or soft diet for several days. If a surgical excision has been carried out, it is likely that a restricted diet must be adhered to for a more extended period.

It is generally advised that individuals avoid engaging in strenuous exercise for several days or weeks following an operation, depending on the specifics of the procedure.


Oral mucocele outlook

Oral mucoceles are generally harmless, painless cysts without any long-term complications. The prognosis for these cysts is positive; however, larger cysts can interfere with speaking, chewing, and swallowing. In some rare instances, ranulas can cause respiratory difficulties. However, with proper treatment, your healthcare provider can remove the mucocele and thus prevent any potential complications from arising.


How can I prevent oral mucoceles?

While there is no way to prevent accidental biting of the lips or cheeks when eating, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of oral mucoceles occurring. Biting of the lip and/or sucking on the inside of the cheeks should be avoided whenever possible. Additionally, kicking any bad habits such as tobacco usage may also help to reduce the likelihood of oral mucoceles appearing.

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