Treating a lip infection usually involves keeping the affected area clean and possibly applying an over-the-counter (OTC) antibiotic. These are just initial steps you can take at home, however — you may do well to see a doctor for further help if the infection lasts for more than a couple of days or fails to show improvement with at-home treatments. A doctor can determine whether your health will be better served by an oral or intravenous (IV) antibiotic or even by an antifungal medication. Once you are on the right course of treatment, you may then only need patience for dealing with the healing process.
When you have a lip infection, one of the most important things to do is keep it clean. If you have an infected cut, scrape, or sore on your lip, you will typically do well to keep food and other debris out of it. You might also prevent further problems by avoiding touching your lip frequently. Keeping it clean also may help prevent you from feeling unnecessary pain and introducing additional germs that could worsen the infection.
Antibiotics can also prove helpful when you are trying to treat a lip infection. For starters, you can apply an antibiotic cream that you buy over the counter to the affected area, being careful not to get the medication inside your mouth. Such creams are usually referred to as topical medications, since oral antibiotics aren't usually available without a doctor's prescription. You may also do well to seek a doctor's advice to ensure that the steps you have taken are sufficient for the type of infection you have contracted.
If you visit a doctor for treatment of a lip infection, he will likely examine the area to determine the cause of the infection. Depending on the seriousness of the infection, a doctor might prescribe an effective antibiotic for treating it or he may tell you to continue with the OTC treatment. If he does prescribe medication, it may take the form of oral antibiotics or antifungals, though a doctor sometimes will recommend prescription-strength topical treatments instead. Oral medications are often more potent and effective because they work from the inside of the body outward to fight the infection.
Sometimes IV antibiotics are needed for treating a lip infection. This is often the case when an infection starts in the lip but spreads through the bloodstream and affects other parts of the body. If you need IV antibiotics, your doctor may recommend hospitalization for the duration of the treatment.