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Small Red Bumps Around Mouth

author image Dr. Robert Petros
Dr. Robert Petros has been working at the Yerevan State Medical University Department of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases since 2009. He has had experience with thousands of patients and done a considerable amount of work in epidemic prevention on the government level.
Small Red Bumps Around Mouth
Red bumps on the lips are usually the sign of an infectious condition. Photo Credit: anayas/iStock/Getty Images

Small red bumps in and around your mouth are the sign of a disease known as Herpes Labials. These bumps are commonly known as cold sores. Herpes is an extremely common infectious condition. According to the American Public Health Association at least 50 percent of the population has been exposed to the virus that causes cold sores.

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The bumps caused by the herpes virus can be found on your lips, inside your mouth, near your nostrils and on the skin of your cheeks. These bumps are painful. The lesions are red lumps filled with clear fluid when they first appear and become covered with a yellow crust in a few days. If left untreated cold sores will resolve themselves in about two weeks.


Cold sores are caused by either one of two viruses, the Herpes Simplex One virus or the Herpes Simplex two virus. These viruses are spread by contact with an open sore. These viruses not only cause infections in and around the mouth, they can cause genital herpes and as well as gladiator herpes (herpes in specific areas of the skin).


The first appearance of the small red bumps around your mouth will be preceded by general symptoms such as fever, fatigue, malaise and muscle weakness. After these symptoms subside, you can begin to feel a tingling or an itch in or around the mouth. The small red bumps then appear in the area where the tingling occurred.


After infection, people carry the herpes simplex virus in their system for the rest of their lives. The virus is stored in the bodies of nerve cells. After the initial outbreak of the small red sores, recurrence is common. These outbreaks are preceded by tingling and itching in the lips without the general symptoms. Stress, illness, menstruation, fatigue and sun exposure bring about the subsequent outbreaks.


Cold sores are treated through the administration of anti-viral medications. These drugs come in oral and topical form. The use of these drugs quickens the recovery process, reduces the severity of the symptoms and decreases the chance of spreading the disease to others. Aciclovir and valaciclovir are the most common anti-viral medications used to treat oral herpes.

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  • "Preventive and Social Medicine"; K. Park, J. E. Park; 1995
  • Mayo Clinic: Health: Oral Herpes
  • "Control of Communicable Diseases Manual 18th Edition ;" David L. Heymann; 2004
  • "Principles of Pharmacology"; David Golan, Armen Tashjian; 2005
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