White Stuff On Your Lips? What’s The Deal?

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What’s your favorite shade of lipstick? When we think about our lips, the last color that we’d think about is white! 

There are a lot of lipstick and lip product shades out there but they usually come in reds, pinks, browns, and other colors. What if you have white stuff on your lips after using lip products?

What’s the deal with that? Is it simply because of the lip products you placed on your lips? Maybe it’s whiteheads on the lip? Or could it be due to something else?

Today, we are going to explore the different reasons why you might have white stuff on lips. We’ll also help you try to get rid of them since they can be an annoyance — or they may not be good for your health. 


White Stuff On The Lips

The white stuff you find on your lips could come in various forms. Some people notice it as a film over their lips. Others describe it as a stringy substance. 

There are others who describe the white stuff on their lips as patches or spots.

Even if they come in the same white color, these may all be different from each other and they could be caused by a variety of reasons. 

In order to get rid of them or to avoid getting them, we first have to figure out exactly what yours are. Below we are going to discuss what the most common white stuff on the lips are. 

1. Saliva And Dead Skin Cells

Like your skin, your lips are also made of cells that eventually shed off and get replaced. One of the most common reasons why you find white stuff on your lips is because of the dead skin cells combined with your saliva. 

One of the most common reasons why you find white stuff on your lips is because of the dead skin cells combined with your saliva. 

Believe it or not, it could be as simple as that.

A good remedy to this is to use a gentle lip scrub. The lip scrub will help remove the dead skin cells on your lips so that it doesn’t accumulate and doesn’t look like white stuff that you don’t like. 

There are various lip scrubs available in the market.

They are usually made of salt or sugar that you should gently rub over your lips. Just don’t do this every day — your lips can get irritated if you do. 

2. Dehydration

Another possible cause of the formation of the white stuff on your lips is dehydration. Apart from the dead skin cells that are present on your lips, it could get mixed with thick saliva. 

When the body is dehydrated the fluids become thicker. This is true for your saliva. That is why your saliva seems sticky around your mouth. 

Due to the less water present in your saliva, it seems more concentrated and thicker. It could appear as white stuff when it stays on your lips. 

The obvious solution here is to make sure you hydrate yourself! You have to drink enough water or provide your body with enough fluids so that your saliva could go back to the right consistency. 

Sometimes, you may observe this occur in the morning right after you wake up. While we are awake, we tend to lick our lips and this could help prevent that icky white stuff from forming. 

However, when we sleep, we don’t usually do that. Some of us even fall asleep with our mouths open so that could help dry up the saliva accumulation on our lips and form the white stuff. 

3. Use Of Lip Products

You could notice the white stuff on your lips when you use various lip products like lip balms or glosses. This is especially true when your lip products aren’t tinted. 

Due to the absence of the tint, you’ll find that the residue formed appears to be white in color. This is quite similar to the residue that is due to the dead skin cells and your saliva. 

However, in this case, it could be due to the dead skin cells on your lips that combines with the lip products that you apply to your lips.

Some people observed that the more they apply the lip products, the more white stuff develops. 

If you have the same experience, you might want to lighten up on the application of your lip products so that it doesn’t accumulate on your lips and form that film of white stuff. 

You may want to change lip products especially if you’ve been using the same bottle of lip gloss for a long time. These products expire. As you use that lip gloss, bacteria could contaminate it. That could lead to an infection on your lips which could result in whitish stuff over them. 

Similarly, there are some people who may be allergic to the different ingredients found in lip balms or other lip products. The body could respond differently and some may notice whitening of the lips in some areas. 

4. Oral Thrush

Oral thrush is a medical condition that could lead to the formation of white stuff not only on your lips but on the mouth too. This is usually caused by candida, a fungus that is part of the mixture of bacteria and fungus that we naturally find in our skin. 

The infection caused by candida isn’t common at all, especially for healthy individuals. Our bodies can easily fight them off immediately. 

However, if the person is immunocompromised or has a weak immune system due to some diseases, infection of candida can happen. This could lead to the whitish stuff that you find on the lips and mouth. 

Oral thrush is more common in babies and older adults that have a weak immune system. 

In order to get rid of oral thrush, you will usually be prescribed anti-fungal medication. Strengthening the immune system will help prevent it from happening again. 

5. Milia

Another reason why you might have white stuff on your lips is due to milia. Milia is usually rounded and hard white bumps. They usually contain keratin that is trapped underneath. 

The bumps are usually very small and domed-shaped. They usually aren’t dangerous and can disappear on their own in a few months or weeks. 

However, if you really want to get rid of them right away or if yours doesn’t go away even after a few months, you could go to your dermatologist to have it removed. 

In order to remedy the milia, they have to extract it by making a small incision on the milia. Some could use an electric needle to get rid of it. Finally, others could prescribe you topical retinoids

6. Herpex Simplex Virus

Another reason why you could have white stuff on your lips is due to the herpes simplex virus. The white spots on the lips could eventually turn into cold sores. 

The white spots could usually be found on the edge of the lips. They eventually crust over and turn into a cold sore. 

It is possible for this to recur in the same location if you expose yourself to cold sore triggers like hormonal changes, stress, or viral infection. 

In order to treat this, oral medication is prescribed. This viral infection is very contagious especially at the stage when the blisters or scabs are present. Avoid kissing or skin-to-skin contact to stop spreading it. 

7. Fordyce Spots

Another reason why you could see white stuff on your lips is because of fordyce spots. These are sebaceous glands or oil glands on your lips that are enlarged. 

They often appear in clusters and may not always be white in color. Some can take a yellowish color and is more visible when the skin is stretched. 

Like milia, these are harmless but some people may still not want them because of how they look like. Having these removed is a cosmetic treatment and would involve using a laser or cauterizing them. 

8. Vitiligo

This is an autoimmune condition that leads to the los of skin pigment in various areas. It could happen on the lips so you’ll see white patches or spots. 

This may not be present at birth and could develop at around 10-30 years of age. The size of the spots vary and could widen over time. 

The white spots develop because the person’s immune system attacks the melanocytes, which produces the skin pigment. This could happen anywhere in the body but are common on the face and the lips as well. 

There isn’t any treatment for this. However, there are procedures that can be done to help restore pignemtn on the area. 

Other treatments would include reducing the body’s immune response, tattooing, as well as skin grafting. 

9. Skin Cancer

Lastly, the white stuff on the lips could be caused by skin cancer. Cancer on the lips could be seen as white or reddish scaly patches that do not go away. We recommend you speak to your doctor about this, if you’ve figured it’s not any of the other items on the list.

Those who are extensively exposed to the sun, smokers, and those with frequent sunburns are more likely to develop it.

Apart from the white patches that don’t go away, it could have other symptoms like pain in the area, pain in your throat or mouth, patches bleed easily and are growing. 

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).