You can get cold sores from lip biting. Although trauma varies in terms of severity, any cracking or puncture of the lips can be problematic.

A bitten lip won’t always cause a cold sore outbreak, but keeping your lips free of cracks should be your objective. Moist lips that have no abrasions are less likely to trigger the formation of fever blisters.[1]

It is crucial that you avoid creating an issue. Introducing a lip piercing, for example, is a form of lip trauma. If you carry HSV-1, puncturing your lip in this way can activate the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1).

In this guide, you will learn more about lip trauma and how to heal various types of lip and mouth sores. We will also explain the importance of keeping your lips moist and free of cuts and abrasions.

Bite Mark Inside Lips vs. Fever Blister vs. Canker Sore

Before you can correctly treat your lip ailment, you need to identify it accurately. It is essential for medical reasons and peace of mind. Attempting to deal with an unknown lip blister just introduces additional problems.

  • What is a lip bite or a bite mark? Just the habit of clamping your teeth on your lips can cause irritation or a puncture wound. While not all bite marks are caused by habit, your teeth can do some damage. Typically causing a bruise, the wound will begin to swell.
  • While canker sores are also common, especially in young people, why they occur is somewhat of a mystery. Usually compromising the delicate tissue inside your mouth, notably the cheek, canker sores can be quite painful. Tender nodules of varying sizes can develop inside the mouth that can make it difficult to chew and even talk. Frequent gum chewers often fall victim to canker sores due to accidental cheek biting. It should be noted that canker sores will never form on the lips. This is a condition that only impacts the inside of the mouth.
  • Born of a virus, fever blisters typically attack the lip and mouth region. Flaring up at the location of viral transmission, cold sores begin with a tingle or burning sensation. Following a distinct cycle from initial symptoms until complete healing, cold sores can be quite painful. Visually appearing as a cluster of reddish blisters, these sores can also produce others symptoms. It is not uncommon for some sufferers to experience fatigue, headache, and swollen lymph nodes as well as other symptoms. Unlike bite marks and canker sores, fever blisters are contagious and by far the most serious of the three ailments described.

How to Heal a Swollen Lip

The best way to heal a swollen lip that is not caused by a virus or infection is with traditional care. This includes a cold compress and anti-inflammatory medication. Something as generic as ice and Ibuprofen should be enough to get the job done in a timely fashion.

Another way to quell lip swelling is to take a hands-off approach. Unless the contact involves active treatment, you are advised to leave your lip alone. Attempting to press the area and inspect things further can only lead to irritation.

To summarize:

  • Treating and healing general lip swelling is easy. If the swelling has not been caused by an infection or illness, a cold compress and pain medication will suffice.
  • Never touch a swollen lip outside of treatment. Touching the lip to “check it out” can delay the healing time.

Bit Lip Swelling

Healing a swollen lip caused by lip biting can be tricky.

The first thing that must be considered is a potential puncture wound. Did the lip puncture, produce bleeding, and then swell? Or, did the bite irritate the skin? If a puncture has taken place that area of skin should be your primary concern. If the skin is torn in a severe way stitches might be required. This is especially true if the bite took place during hard physical contact, such as athletic play.

If the bite has resulted in basic swelling, the area can be healed with a cold compress. Reducing the swelling will gradually alleviate the pain. You can also introduce anti-inflammatory medication to help with the process.

Although lip biting can produce an infection, this is not likely. However, it is something to keep your eye on during the early stages because it might cause viral penetration.[2] If a deep puncture wound is present is it critical to clean the area as soon as possible.

To recap:

  • How you treat a bitten lip depends on the extent of the issue. If the skin has been punctured, then your primary concern should be to heal the area. The swelling, in this case, is secondary.
  • If the only visual sign of injury is the swelling itself, then ice or a cold compress can be applied. This will reduce both pain and swelling and likely provide fast relief.
  • Anti-inflammatory medication can be introduced as another means to reduce swelling.

Swollen Cold Sore

When it comes to treating and healing a swollen cold sore, it is vital to stick to the basics. Introducing alternative and exotic methods to reduce your symptoms can only exacerbate the issue. An FDA-approved topical cream can be applied to your blister.

Because cold sores go through a series of stages, you must respect the swelling. What that means is the simple fact of letting the situation take its course. While applying treatment will undoubtedly speed up the process, attempting to sabotage the process can be dangerous. Popping your sore can extend healing time and introduce infection.

To summarize:

  • It is important to be wise when treating a cold sore. You must avoid the temptation to “fiddle” with a swollen blister. Compromising the area could result in even more significant problems.
  • You can heal your sore by applying a topical gel or cream such as Abreva or Orajel. Sticking to proven FDA-approved selections is your safest bet and our recommendation.

Canker Sore Swelling

While canker sores will typically heal on their own within a matter of days, the pain and swelling can be brutal. Often occupying room inside your cheek and interfering with your natural bite, canker sores can compromise both chewing and talking.

Concerning healing, one of the best things you can do is to keep your mouth clean. Using mouthwash 2-3 times per day can serve to cleanse and disinfect the problem area. Additionally, Durham’s canker rid can be helpful.

If your teeth are rubbing against the sore, then it is important to limit those actions if possible. Even something as simple as switching sides when you chew can help. In terms of general rules, no gum chewing, no problematic foods, drinks, or candy is wise.

Drinking plenty of water can also help to heal canker sores faster. Similar to mouthwash, water can remove any coating left behind by food and soda.

Can a biting the lip cause cold sores?

The simple act of refraining from contact can also be beneficial. The less disturbance, the better.

To recap:

  • Cleaning your mouth with both mouthwash and water can help in the healing process.
  • Avoiding problematic foods and drinks can also help. Steer clear of items that are acidic.
  • While tempting, avoid touching your canker sore with your tongue. Although it is human nature to feel around, leave the sore alone if possible. The more you “play” with it, the longer it will likely stick around.

Can Lip Biting Cause Cold Sores?

The potential exists if the trauma is severe. While casual biting is not likely to trigger a sore, a deep puncture wound or cut could introduce a problem.

Although teeth clamping against your lips could be an issue, there are other influences to consider. Some of which include dental work and trauma caused by physical activity.

In the case of dental work, just the simple act of your mouth being held open for very long time can cause your lips to crack. That alone, based on what is known about HSV-1 entry mechanisms[3], could act as a cold sore trigger.

Additionally, the introduction of braces, for example, can potentially cut your lips thus causing a problem. Dental work, generally speaking, is no friend to your lips. At least not in the short term.

In respect to lip trauma through means of physical contact, this also opens up various doors. Suffering a large cut on your lip during athletics or sports can serve as a trigger, especially if the cut is large enough to require stitches.

Do I have a cold sore or bitten lip?

To summarize:

  • Common lip biting is not the only form of lip trauma that can cause a cold sore outbreak.
  • Extensive dental work, harsh physical contact through athletics, and even a lip piercing can all serve to aggravate your lips.
  • Keeping your lips moist and clean can go a long way in terms of preventing an outbreak. This is not only true for those who have HSV-1 but also those who are concerned about becoming infected with the virus through contact with a carrier.

How to Keep Your Lips Healthy

Cold sore prevention requires that you take care of your lips. Keep them clean. Make sure that they are kept moist. Keep them free of cracks. These foundational basics are why any type of lip manipulation can be problematic.

While nothing is foolproof, you should always make it a conscious effort to protect your lips. This will likely reduce cold sore outbreaks and shield others from coming in contact with a contagious carrier.


  1. Thier K, Petermann P, Rahn E, Rothamel D, Bloch W, Knebel-Mörsdorf D. Mechanical Barriers Restrict Invasion of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 into Human Oral Mucosa. Sandri-Goldin RM, ed. Journal of Virology. 2017;91(22):e01295-17. doi:10.1128/JVI.01295-17.
  2. Thier K, Petermann P, Rahn E, Rothamel D, Bloch W, Knebel-Mörsdorf D. Mechanical Barriers Restrict Invasion of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 into Human Oral Mucosa. Sandri-Goldin RM, ed. Journal of Virology. 2017;91(22):e01295-17. doi:10.1128/JVI.01295-17.
  3. Petermann P, Thier K, Rahn E, et al. Entry Mechanisms of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 into Murine Epidermis: Involvement of Nectin-1 and Herpesvirus Entry Mediator as Cellular Receptors. Sandri-Goldin RM, ed. Journal of Virology. 2015;89(1):262-274. doi:10.1128/JVI.02917-14.