Have you noticed minute fluid-filled bumps on your baby’s lips? They could be lip blisters, which are common in babies and usually resolve on their own.
Although baby lip blisters do not pose a threat, they could be subtle signs of latching problems. Knowing the reason behind baby lip blisters might help you understand the root cause. Read this post to understand why babies get lip blisters and what you can do about it.
Before we understand the reasons behind lip blisters in babies, let us first see how they look like.
How Do Baby Lip Blisters Look Like?
Baby lip blisters look like small bubbles on the skin of your baby’s lips and may not be visible when the lips are closed. They generally appear as tiny bubbles on the cupid’s bow or as a big band stretched across the lips. They are usually filled with a clear fluid. In some rare cases, they may also be filled with pus.
Why Do Babies Get Lip Blisters?
Baby lip blisters can be due to sucking during breastfeeding or due to cold sores.
1. Baby suck lip/ blisters
Lip blisters caused by sucking are also known as suck blisters, friction blisters, or suck callouses. A newborn’s lips are tender and soft. While breastfeeding, the baby starts to suck vigorously and overworks their lip muscles. These lead to friction and may cause lip blisters (1). Although lip blisters are mostly seen in breastfeeding babies, they are also present in bottle-fed babies.
Newborn lip blisters may resolve in one or two days, and you need not worry or do something about them. However, if the lip blisters persist beyond a couple of weeks, it could signal a latching problem (3).
Also, a tongue-tie or a lip-tie may prevent your baby from raising their tongue and restrict the lips’ movement, resulting in long-lasting sucking blisters. If your baby is premature, they might also need more time to learn how to latch correctly (4).
2. Cold sores
Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus, which can cause blisters on the lips. Unlike the suck blisters, they might be painful and filled with pus. Although these are found mostly in adults, babies under the age of eight weeks are at risk of developing them, as their immune system is not fully developed.
Adults with the virus can infect the baby when they touch the baby’s lips or kiss them, or give them a pacifier after keeping it in their mouth.
Babies may also develop a fever when they have a cold sore for the first time, and the mouth area could be inflamed, leading to bad breath(15).
How To Treat Baby Lip Blisters
The treatment for baby blisters depends on the cause. If the blisters are due to sucking, then observe them for three to four days. If they reappear or do not go away on their own, identify and fix the latching problem. Here is how you can do it.
- Gently rub your nipple on your baby’s lips. This may help your baby open their mouth wide.
- Try to direct the nipple above your baby’s top lip. Also, make sure your baby’s chin is towards their chest.
- Now, aim your baby’s lower lip away from the base of your nipple. Lead your baby into the breast, chin first, and then make them latch on.
- An extended tongue and the baby’s mouth filled with your breast with the baby’s lower lip everted, are signs of a good latch (6).
If your bottle-fed baby suffers from suck blisters, check your feeding position, place the bottle nipple completely into your baby’s mouth, or use a paced feeding bottle until your baby becomes comfortable latching.
You may apply a warm compress on your baby’s lips to soothe the milk blisters(7).
Cold sores resolve on their own, but if your baby develops a fever or if their mouth appears inflamed, then take them to your pediatrician.
You can prevent cold sores in babies by taking the following precautions.
- Do not let family members who are infected touch or kiss the baby.
- Always wash your hands before touching the baby or their bottles and pacifiers.
- Do not share your baby’s towels or bedsheets with people who are infected.
Lip blisters are common in babies. While you can prevent cold sore blisters, suck blisters cannot be prevented. As suck blisters could signal latching issues, keep an eye on the blisters and seek a lactation specialist’s advice.
2. Mustafa Aydin et al.; A rare location of sucking blister in newborn: the lips; European Journal of Pediatrics (2013).
3. Suck Blisters; Flourishing Tots
4. Breastfeeding: Ineffective Latch-On or Sucking; Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
5. Cold sores: Overview; Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care
6. Steps and Signs of a Good Latch; WIC Breastfeeding Support – U.S. Department of Agriculture
7. Jacqueline C. Kent et al.; Nipple Pain in Breastfeeding Mothers: Incidence, Causes and Treatments; International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2015).