Updated on February 1, 2024
5 min read

How Long Does the Healing Process Take for a Busted Lip?

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What is a Busted Lip and How Does it Happen?

A busted lip is a lip injury typically involving bruising, swelling, or an open wound. Cuts and wounds on the mouth and lips are common, especially in children and active adults.

The most common cause of a busted lip is an injury during sports. Getting a busted lip from a blow to the mouth, a fall, or pointed objects is also possible.

Most injured lips will heal independently within a few days or weeks. However, they can cause discomfort and pain. At-home treatments can help speed up the healing process and reduce symptom severity.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Most wounds of the mouth can heal successfully after simple first aid treatment. However, you should seek immediate medical attention if:

  • Very severe bleeding that doesn’t stop when you apply pressure
  • The bleeding doesn’t stop after 5 to 10 minutes
  • The cut is wider than an inch
  • You have trouble opening your mouth or breathing
  • You have numbness or severe pain
  • You develop a fever
  • Your injury came from a dirty or rusty object
  • You have a loose or broken tooth
  • You have a head or bone injury

Deep wounds require stitches, and mouth injuries from a dirty or rusty object might require a tetanus shot.

You may also need immediate medical care to prevent infection, primarily if an animal or human bite caused your injury. 

7 Treatments and Remedies for a Busted Lip

Here are seven possible treatments for healing a busted lip:

1. Cleaning the Wound

Keeping your lip clean will remove bacteria or dirt particles that could cause infection. It will also accelerate the healing process.

Gently wipe the area with mild soap and water and a clean cloth. You don’t need to use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol to clean the area.1

2. Salt Water Rinse

You can clean the area with a saltwater solution to soothe discomfort. Simply mix salt with warm water and apply it with a cotton ball or gauze.

Salt water also helps cuts and wounds heal more quickly.

3. Cold Pack or Ice Cubes

Cold temperatures can reduce bleeding and swelling.3 A cold compress applied to a wound or bruise can also numb the gums, tongue, and lips, relieving pain.

To create a cold compress, dampen a towel with cool water and apply it to your lip. You can also wrap ice cubes or an ice pack in a towel. For children, it can be helpful to suck on a sugar-free ice pop or cube. But watch to make sure they don’t choke on the ice cube. 

4. Over-the-Counter (OTC) Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can reduce inflammation and discomfort from mouth injuries. Take them as directed while your lip is healing.

5. Baking Soda

Research shows that baking soda may positively affect the healing and inflammation of wounds in the mouth.4 

Mix one part baking soda with three parts water to make a paste. Apply it gently to your lip and let it sit before rinsing.

6. Tea Bags

Tea contains tannins, compounds that may help reduce bleeding in shallow cuts and wounds.5 Place a moistened, room-temperature tea bag against your lip if it’s bleeding.

7. Turmeric

The spice turmeric has been used since ancient times to reduce inflammation. It contains an anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin.6

You can make a paste from turmeric and water to put on wounds of the mouth. 

How Long Will a Busted Lip Stay Swollen?

The swelling from a busted lip should subside within 48 hours of the injury. 

Inflammation will typically go down independently, but you can help speed up the process with first aid.

How to Reduce Swelling of a Busted Lip

You can help reduce a swollen lip by:

  • Applying an ice pack or a cold, damp towel to the area
  • Sucking on an ice pop or ice cube
  • Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications
  • Using baking soda or turmeric paste
  • Keeping the wound clean
  • Rinsing the area with saltwater

How Long Does a Busted Lip Take to Heal?

A busted lip may take a few days to a few weeks to heal completely. Your healing timeline depends on a few factors, including:

  • The severity of the wound
  • How quickly you can make it stop bleeding
  • Measures you take to treat your injury
  • Any medical conditions you may have, like diabetes 

If your lip is bleeding, apply pressure immediately to stop it. It should stop within 5 to 10 minutes.

Will a Busted Lip Heal Completely?

Yes, a busted lip will heal completely. Minor wounds of the mouth and lips often leave no scarring behind.

However, if you have a severe injury to your lip, you might notice a scar after it’s healed. These scars may heal over time.

How Fast Does Lip Skin Regenerate?

The skin on your lips is thinner and more sensitive than on other places on your body. Lip skin usually takes between two and three weeks to regenerate completely.

Summary

A busted lip is a cut, bruised, or swollen lip caused by an injury. Minor cuts typically heal on their own after a few days or weeks. 

You can accelerate healing and ease symptoms by keeping the area clean, applying cold compresses, and taking over-the-counter pain relievers. The swelling should go down within 48 hours.

While most mouth injuries heal quickly, you should seek medical attention if yours bleeds heavily, the swelling worsens, or you have a very wide cut. 

Last updated on February 1, 2024
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 1, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Basic Wound Care.” University Health Services, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 2023.
  2. Samidah, S., et al. “The effectiveness of 7% table salt concentration test to increase collagen in the healing process of a wound.” Gaceta Sanitaria, ScienceDirect, 2021.
  3. Ice Packs vs. Warm Compresses for Pain.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University, 2023.
  4. Dentino, A., et al. “Effect of a baking soda-peroxide dentifrice on post-surgical wound healing.” American Journal of Dentistry, National Library of Medicine, 1995.
  5. Soltani, R., et al. “Evaluation of the Effect of Green Tea Extract on the Prevention of Gingival Bleeding after Posterior Mandibular Teeth Extraction: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, National Library of Medicine, 2014.
  6. Turmeric Benefits.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, The Johns Hopkins University, 2023.
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