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What Is a Mucocele?

A patient having a mucocele drained by a medical professional.
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  • Written By: J.M. Willhite
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 02 July 2014
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A painless cyst that appears on the inside of the lip is known as a mucocele, or a mucous retention cyst. Mucoceles are a harmless, common condition resulting from the collection of clear fluid on the interior surface of the lip. Though these cysts, also known as mucous cysts, normally heal on their own, recurrent mucoceles have the potential to permanently scar the area on which they form. In some cases, certain types of mucocele formation may result in complications requiring medical attention.

Individuals who habitually suck their inner lip between their teeth often experience the formation of a mucocele. The pressure placed on the membranes of the inner lip causes the collection of clear liquid within a thin sac, ultimately forming a cyst. It has been suggested that mucoceles result from the ductal obstruction or rupture of the salivary glands. The small cysts that form are harmless, but can be quite annoying. Those who have had their tongue or lebret pierced may experience the formation of a mucocele in the immediate area of the piercing.

A diagnosis of a mucocele may be confirmed with a visual examination of the affected area. In cases where the cyst causes discomfort, a doctor visit may be necessary. Continued trauma to the affected area can result in delayed healing, and potentially cause the enlargement of the cyst due to the collection of additional fluid. Most often, when the affected area is left alone, the cyst will independently rupture and heal.

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To relieve discomfort, it may be necessary to open the cyst to allow drainage and promote healing. An opening of the cyst should be conducted in a doctor's office and performed by a trained health care professional to reduce the risk of infection. In cases where infection does develop, antibiotics are usually administered. The persistent recurrence of a mucocele may result in the formation of a permanent, hard nodule on the affected area.

Though most commonly found on the lips, mucoceles may form anywhere within the oral cavity. A mucous cyst which forms on the gum, known as an epulis, generally results from repeated trauma to the affected area, as found with individuals who wear dentures. A mucocele that forms on the bottom, or floor, of the mouth is referred to as a ranula. Trauma, tissue damage, or ductal obstruction of the salivary glands is usually the genesis of a ranula's formation. Unlike other mucoceles, epulis and ranula cysts frequently require surgical removal to prevent further discomfort and complication.

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Discuss this Article

anon945873
Post 8

I had mine removed seven days ago and there is no other option. It will grow again and again, so surgery is the only option.

anon278708
Post 7

I've had one of these on the inside of my lower lip before (twice). I just bit it until it popped, sucked out as much of the yucky fluid as I could, and spit it out, then used mouthwash vigorously. Not suggesting, just saying.

Jahaziel
Post 6

I have one of these and it has been on my inner bottom lip for for about a week and a half now, and it is really big and annoying. What should I do?

medicchristy
Post 5

I remember being younger and having those little cysts on the inside of my mouth, specifically under my lip area. You could actually see that it had liquid in it. My grandmother told me that if I popped it, it would make me very, very sick because those cysts were "full of poison". She had me so scared until I was almost afraid to eat because I thought I might pop it!

Later, I found out that wasn't exactly true. It still makes me smile to think about it though!

Oceana
Post 4

I fear surgery, so I usually just deal with my mucoceles with home remedies. They disappear within a couple of weeks.

One technique that helps is to put a couple of drops of milk and a dash of turmeric powder on a cotton gauze pad and cover the mucocele with it. I remove it once it feels dry. This seems to provide a little relief.

If I need immediate relief, I will smear honey on it. To promote healing in my sleep, I put castor oil on it before bed.

None of these methods are a quick cure, but they do seem to help the mucoceles go away faster than when I do nothing. I have learned that prevention is best, so I have stopped biting my lips. I chew my food slowly to avoid biting my mouth, and I use tartar control toothpaste because it can help prevent mucocele formation.

lighth0se33
Post 3

I work as a vet technician, and we often see mucoceles in Boxers and in older dogs. A benign epulis is the type we see the most. It lies in the gums near the canine teeth or incisors, and it starts within the connective tissue holding the teeth to the jawbone.

An epulis is the color of the gums. It is smooth and sometimes attaches to the gum by a stalk-like structure. As it grows, the dog may have bad breath or difficulty eating. He may drool or bleed from the tumor. It can push the teeth apart.

We recommend surgery to remove an epulis. We have to take the surrounding tissue as well, because if we leave any of the epulis, it can regrow. Really large ones can require radiation.

orangey03
Post 2

Constant sucking on lollipops caused my little sister to develop ranula. The floor of her mouth turned blue and translucent, like a frog’s underbelly. This cyst was full of mucus.

It was so big that it raised her tongue up a little. She said that it didn’t hurt, but she did seem to have a little trouble saying certain words, and she began to chew more slowly than she once did.

My mother decided to have it surgically removed. Though my sister protested, she went in for surgery with a CO2 laser. It successfully removed the ranula, and it scarred the gland to prevent recurrence.

shell4life
Post 1

After getting mucoceles for years, my friend found a home remedy that worked for her. She puts alum on the mucocele and leaves it for fifteen minutes. Then, she rinses with Listerine for two minutes.

She says that it works for all stages of a mucocele. The alum will make it grow quickly and burst if it hasn’t already. Then, it makes the inflamed area turn white and get washed away.

She has temporary craters, but new skin fills the hole pretty soon and hides the evidence. She has to repeat the process daily until the mucocele disappears. She says that it prevents new ones from forming.

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