Understanding Lip Outbreaks

Lip outbreaks are red, fluid-filled blisters that form near the mouth or on other areas of the face. They are usually clumped together in patches. Lip outbreaks may persist for two weeks or longer. A common virus called herpes simplex causes Lip outbreaks. They can spread from person to person through close contact, such as kissing. The sores are contagious even when they aren’t visible. There’s no cure for Lip outbreaks, and they may return without warning.  

Lip outbreaks are caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of the herpes simplex virus. The herpes simplex type 1 virus (HSV-1) usually causes lip outbreaks, and the herpes simplex type 2 virus (HSV-2) usually causes genital herpes. The actual sores are similar in appearance for both forms of the virus. It’s also possible for HSV-1 to cause sores on the genitals and for HSV-2 to cause sores on the mouth.

When you have a lip outbreak, it is important not to spread the virus with others. Make sure you don’t share cups or kiss anyone while you have a lip outbreak, and wash your hand after applying product to the affected area. Other than applying product, avoid touching your lips while you have an active lip outbreak.


A lip outbreak goes through five stages:


Tingling and itching occurs about 24 hours before blisters erupt.


Fluid-filled blisters appear.


The blisters burst, ooze, and form painful sores. This is the most contagious stage of a lip outbreak.


The sores dry out and scab over causing itching and cracking.


The scab falls off and the cold sore heals.