The Importance of Protecting Your Lips in the Sun

July 9, 2019.TruAssure.0 Likes.0 Comments

The Importance of Protecting Your Lips in the Sun

You probably know that it’s important to wear sunscreen on your face and body to protect your skin from the sun. Were you aware that the delicate skin on your lips make them particularly vulnerable to the sun? In fact, your lower lip is 12 times more likely to be affected by burning from the sun and skin cancer than the top lip.1

Protect your lips with the daily use of a lip balm or lipstick that offers a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or greater. Because you eat, drink and may lick your lips, you’ll need to reapply often. A good rule to follow is to reapply every hour. While ultraviolet rays are most intense during the summer months, the use of an SPF lip balm protects your lips year-round and can help keep them moist during cooler weather.

Prevent sunburn by seeking the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., which are when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and protective clothing helps protect your lips, skin and eyes from the burning rays.2

Symptoms of sunburned lips typically last 3 – 5 days:3

  • Lips that are redder than normal
  • Swollen lips
  • Lips that are tender to touch
  • Blistering on the lips (small, white, fluid-filled bumps unlike a cold sore which are red blisters that itch or tingle)

Treatments for sunburned lips:

  • Apply a moisturizing lip balm or lip ointment. This will soothe irritated lips. Use products made specifically for lips rather than a body moisturizer which may not be safe if ingested. Avoid lidocaine – numbing product that is unsafe to ingest and oil-based balms which can trap heat and make the condition worse.
  • Cold compresses on lips. For example, a washcloth dipped in cold water and applied to the lips can bring relief. Other options include cold potato slices or tea bags that have been soaked in chilled water. Avoid applying ice directly to the lips which can cause additional damage.
  • An anti-inflammatory medication for pain. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen may be taken to help ease the pain.
  • Do not pop blisters. Doing so can cause an infection and delay healing.
  • Drink water. Sunburns, whether on your lips or your skin, dehydrate your body. Drinking water combats dehydration and is beneficial to the healing process.

In addition to protecting your lips from the sun, your lips and the rest of your mouth – gums, cheeks and tongue should be checked regularly for oral cancer. Dentists are trained to spot specific signs and symptoms of more than 120 diseases during a routine exam, including oral cancer.

Early detection is key so be on the lookout for these warning signs and symptoms of oral cancer:

  • A lip or mouth sore that doesn’t heal
  • A white or reddish patch on the inside of your mouth
  • A growth or lump inside your mouth
  • Mouth or ear pain
  • Difficulty or painful swallowing

If any symptom bothers you or lasts more than two weeks, contact your dentist.

Factors that increase your risk of oral cancer include the use of tobacco (all kinds), heavy alcohol use, excessive sun exposure to the lips, a sexually transmitted virus called human papillomavirus (HPV) and a weakened immune system.4

Protect yourself and your family and enjoy the summer!

1 https://www.healthline.com/health/sunburned-lips
2 American Academy of Dermatology, Inc. [US] https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/sunburn-prevention-and-treatment
3 https://www.healthline.com/health/sunburned-lips#symptoms
4 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/mouth-cancer/symptoms-causes/syc-20350997

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