What causes blisters on lips?

Blisters on the lips can affect both men and women for a large range of reasons. The MediFind Medical Team has summarized 10 potential causes for blisters on the lips below in order from most to least likely based on our data. Learn more about how MediFind works here. You can also enter your symptoms into MediFind’s Symptom Checker to receive more customized results.

Pompholyx Eczema

While this form of eczema refers to the formation of blisters on the hands and feet, it also rarely results in fluid-filled blisters on the lips. It is characterized by a scaly and itchy rash. The rash results in red, cracked, and painful skin. The source of these blisters in currently unknown but it does appear that they occur during certain times of the year. Women develop it more often and stress aggravates the disorder. Pompholyx, which is Greek for bubble, tends to go away on its own but a dermatologist will prescribe moisturizers and anti-itch creams to lessen the symptoms. Find a dermatologist near you here.


The body’s own immune system can result in blistering on the skin, mouth, nose, throat, eyes, and genitals. This autoimmune disorder targets middle and older aged patients, particularly those of Jewish descent. Whereas other autoimmune disorders target organs or internal cells, pemphigus is specific to the top layer of the skin, which is called the epidermis. These blisters result in an infection that can develop into sepsis, which may be fatal. A dermatologist will prescribe steroid tablets to control inflammation along with antibiotics to protect from infection. Find a dermatologist near you here.

Herpes Zoster

Called shingles in adults and chicken pox in children, an infection by the varicella zoster virus results in itchy spots throughout the entire skin, which may include blisters on the lips. Even after the immune system eliminates the virus, it may remain in an inactive form in nerve cells where it can reactivate at a later age. A dermatologist will prescribe antiviral medicine such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, or famciclovir but the treatments must be started as soon as possible. Otherwise, the rash generally clears on its own. Find a dermatologist near you here.


An advancement on pemphigus that specifically targets the elderly, pemphigoid results in an itchy rash with large blisters. The blisters can develop into a serious infection and the symptoms are quite painful. This condition can be chronic with multiple flare-ups that come and go for months or years. They can contain pus or blood, particularly if it occurs near a source of blood. A dermatologist will prescribe steroid creams and tablets along with antibiotics to control a possible infection. Find a dermatologist near you here.                           

Epidermolysis Bullosa

Epidermolysis corresponds to a group of disorders that is inherited among families and result in bullous blisters after any kind of minor injury. There are three main types with subtle differences but the severity of the blisters varies widely. In some cases, the blistering can result in scarring of organ tissue, which is fatal. Besides blistering on the skin and lips, patients may experience hair loss, dental problems, breathing problems, nail loss, or thickening of the hands and feet. A dermatologist will prescribe steroid creams and tablets but can also recommend surgery to treat particular organ problems such as esophageal narrowing. Find a dermatologist near you here.


Because of hypothermia, which is a low body temperature, patients may experience frostbite that, when severe, results in blistering throughout the body including the lips. Recovery from frostbite is dependent on the blood vessels being unaffected, otherwise gangrene occurs which may lead to amputation. This serious condition requires immediate medical intervention. A primary care doctor will focus on preventing gangrene by carefully warming up limbs. Find a primary care doctor near you here.

Pregnancy Dermatoses

A case of pemphigoid, as described earlier, when developed during pregnancy is called pregnancy dermatoses or gestational pemphigoid. This condition generally occurs in the second or third trimester as papules or plaques on the abdomen but can progress and result in blisters elsewhere such as on the lips. Like pemphigoid, a dermatologist will prescribe steroid creams or tablets but ursodeoxycholic acid is a particularly effective treatment, as it does not affect the mother or the fetus. Find a dermatologist near you here.

Nummular Eczema

Nummular, which is Latin for “resembling coins”, refers to the itchy, coin-shaped patches that appear on the skin of a patient with this type of eczema. Its cause is unknown but many attribute familial allergies or environmental conditions to its development.  The lesions appear on the arms and legs but may also appear elsewhere and tend to ooze. A dermatologist will prescribe a steroid cream or tablet but will also recommend using a wet wrap with warm water to soothe the affected areas. Find a dermatologist near you here.


Contact with human-specific mites may transmit an infectious disease called scabies, which can then spread from person to person. An itchy rash forms after the mite lays an egg into the skin. The Norwegian scabies is particularly severe as it can be deadly to those with weakened immune systems. An infectious disease doctor will recommend treatment of clothes and bedding to remove the infestation and then calamine lotion and antihistamines to treat the body. 5% permethrin is a common remedy. Find an infectious disease doctor near you here.

Eczema Herpeticum

An infection by herpes simplex virus, which is a ubiquitous condition among both children and adults, can develop into a form of eczema that result in bloody lesions. Although a very rare outcome, it ranges in severity for immunocompromised patients and can even be deadly. Some patients may experience development of sepsis through viremia or bacteremia. An infectious disease doctor will prescribe antiviral drugs for all cases and may hospitalize for severe cases. Find an infectious disease doctor near you here.

Understanding the Results

These results are based on the most likely conditions for a 20 to 40 year-old patient that is living in the United States. Our data shows that 96% of the time, this symptom is related to one of the 10 most likely causes. Location and age can also contribute to different results. Use our Symptom Checker to add your information and get your custom results.

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Differences in Age Groups

Many of these dermatological conditions primarily affect the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. Cases of infections, however, can affect any age group but become more severe as someone ages.

Differences among Men and Women

Besides the development of blisters due to pregnancy-based eczema, infectious causes of blisters are equivalent among both men and women.

Last Updated: December 08, 2022

Published By: MediFind Medical Staff