What Does a Black Spot on Your Lip Mean?

Updated: Nov. 15, 2022

With age (and other factors) can come dark spots on the lips. A dentist recommends when to get them checked out.

In your youth, you might have had evenly colored, vibrant lips. Over time, lip color tends to fade, and you might notice that your lips become thinner. You might also start to observe dark spots on the lips.

If you do notice see a black spot on your lip, it’s worth getting it checked out. Your dentist might look for any concerning spots on your mouth, lips, or tongue at your regular dental check-ups. But don’t wait for your next appointment if you notice a new or concerning spot.

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What causes a black spot on your lip?

“The lips are still more like skin, so you can get age spots, sun spots, or other spots that we’re worried about,” says Tricia Quartey-Sagaille, DMD, FAGD, and spokesperson for the American Dental Association.

Dr. Quartey-Sagaille says spots on lips can indicate many things. Sometimes it’s completely harmless like a freckle you never noticed or the blood vessels in your mouth. These spots grow more common with age and easier to see as the skin thins and becomes more subdued. But, consider seeing a dentist to be sure it’s not something more serious.

Another common cause of dark-colored spots on the lips is irritation that will go away on its own. It could be from a burn, chapped lips or holding cigarettes in your mouth. Your dentist can check it out and give you some tips for preventing irritation.

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Blue-ish spots can also be the sign of hereditary condition Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome, which is characterized by polyps in the stomach and intestines. The spots are most common in children.

Allergic reactions show up on lips, too. Itchiness or swelling of the lips and tongue can indicate a food allergy. But food allergies can also show up as a discolored spot. Symptoms usually appear soon after eating. Raw fruits and vegetables are common causes. The lips can also react to makeup, face lotions, and sunblock.

A new spot on the lips could be one of many things that are harmless, like a freckle you just noticed or the results of dry lips. But just like new spots on the tongue, discolored spots on the lips could be something more concerning like skin cancer, Dr. Quartey-Sagaille says.

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What should you do about a black spot on your lip?

The best thing to do is get it checked out by a medical professional rather than wait and see or try to diagnose it yourself at home. You can see your dentist or dermatologist. They’ll get you to the right place for any further steps.

“We work hand in hand,” Dr. Quartey-Sagaille says. “There’s a lot of crossover with what we do.”

Definitely don’t delay seeing a professional if the spot:

  • Is growing quickly
  • Is tender or bleeds
  • Has an irregular border
  • Has different color tones

Help prevent spots on the lips by using lip balm with sun protection and not smoking.

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