This week a patient came to me with the following question, “Dr. Remington, can lips get sunburned?” The answer is yes they can, and he was surprised by that…
Just like other parts of your body, your lips are vulnerable to sunburn and sun damage. In the worse case scenario, this can result in skin cancer. The lower lip is more than 10 times more likely to be affected by skin cancer than the upper lip. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and one in five Americans will develop it in their lifetimes, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Symptoms of sunburned lips
- lips that are more red than usual
- lips that are swollen
- skin that feels tender to the touch
- blistering on the lips
The best thing you can do is protect your lips against sunburn. For most people, lip balms with physical sunscreens are best. These incorporate the active mineral ingredients titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide. You need to reapply lip sunscreen more frequently than sunscreen to the rest of your skin, due to eating, drinking, and licking your lips. Reapplying every hour is a good rule to follow.
Treatment for sunburned lips
- Take ibuprofen to help with pain, discomfort, and inflammation.
- Apply an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to reduce redness and swelling, just try not to lick it off.
- Rehydrate by drinking lots of water.
- Apply aloe, which has healing and hydrating properties.