anonymous on September 28, 2011

I have two small red bumps above my upper lip. Could I have an STD?

Recently I noticed that I have two small red bumps above my upper lip. Could I have an STD...or are they something else? 

answered by Lisa Oldson, MD on September 28, 2011

Thanks for your question. 

Two small red, bumps above your upper lip could be a few things...including something entirely harmless, like pimples. But the only way to know the cause of your symptoms for sure is to see your doctor for a full examination and definite diagnosis.  

That said, depending on your sexual history and whether there’s a chance that you’ve been exposed to STDs, your symptoms might indicate a herpes or even a syphilis infection. Herpes is one of the most common and contagious STDs. It’s caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2). While most people with a herpes infection are initially asymptomatic (no symptoms), symptoms of HSV-2 may include blisters or cold sores on the lips or inside the mouth. 

What puts someone at risk for herpes? Herpes is usually spread through direct contact with active sores during unprotected sexual activity, including kissing or skin-to-skin contact with a person who has sores on the mouth or genital area. If these or any other herpes risk factors apply to you ⎼ or if you’re sexually active and you haven’t been tested in a year or so ⎼ I would encourage you to get tested for STDs. Not just for herpes, but for a panel of common STDs, like syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis B and C, and HIV). 

Why? Because if there’s a chance that you’ve been exposed to one STD ⎼ like herpes ⎼ then there’s also a chance that you’ve been exposed to other STDs. And you can’t know your STD status just by monitoring your body...many STDs don’t show signs or symptoms for a long time. 

In our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2, you can learn more about herpes symptoms, risks, testing, treatment...and how to reduce the chance of getting or spreading a sexually transmitted infection, including practicing safer sex

I hope this information provides a good starting point for you, to get to the bottom of your symptoms. Thanks again for coming to us, and I wish you good health! 

Related info:

Lisa Oldson, MD

Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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