We all go to great lengths to protect our skin from the harmful UV radiation. However, most people are unaware that aside from the forehead, arms and shoulders, other parts of the body need protection from the sun, for instance, the lips.
Symptoms to expect
Sunburned lips can be painful and a cause of anxiety. This is because of the swollen appearance of the lips, particularly the lower lip, the presence of blisters, and the tenderness of the skin to touch.
Naturally, the lips are made up of low pigmentation and thin skin tissue. These characteristics make the lips susceptible to sunburns, and sun blisters. Moreover, exposure to the sun increases the risk of developing skin cancer.
If you have sunburned lips, you will notice that your lips appear discolored. Other issues that can come up due to exposure to the sun include chapped lips, dark spots, sun blisters, and swelling. The lower lip is more vulnerable to sunburn than the upper lip.
You need to remember that protection is better than cure. Most people forget to protect their lips using the right sunscreen. There are great sunscreen products for lips such as the
- Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25, Lemon & Shea Butter ($10)
- Solar Sense Clear Zinc SPF 50 Carded Stick,
- and the Mountain Ocean Lip Trip SPF 15 Lip Balm.
If you already have sunburnt lips, then the first treatment approach is to stay out of the sun. You can take over the counter prescriptions such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) to reduce the discomfort.
Do not irritate the skin by trying to peel off the dry parts. Instead, you can apply Aloe Vera gel which will soothe the sunburnt lips. Also, take lots of water to minimize dehydration in the body due to exposure to the sun.
There are several home remedies that you can try out.
1. Cold compress
First, you can opt for a cold compress. This remedy entails taking a soft cloth and rinsing it in cold water. Place the cold cloth on your lips to ease the inflammation. Once the cloth becomes warm, remove it, soak it in the water, rinse out the excess water and place it on the lips again. Repeat the process about 2-3 times after which you can apply a moisturizer.
You can opt for other alternatives aside from water. For instance, cold potato slices, lettuce, or chamomile tea bags. Place any of these substances in cold water before placing them on the lips. Also, a compress using milk can help minimize the pain as the milk proteins offer a protective shield over the exposed nerves on the lip.
2. Use moisturizers
Using moisturizers on the burnt lips can ease the inflammation and help heal the lips. You can opt for moisturizers such as Aquaphor, Almond oil, coconut oil, shea butter or vitamin E containing moisturizers.
3. Sheet Masks
Using sheet masks is another popular approach for treating sunburnt lips. Use cloth or paper sheet masks that contain natural oils such as aloe vera or Jojoba oil. Remember to avoid sun exposure as the lips heal. Opt for indoor activities or use a sunscreen for lips if you need to be in the sun.
4. Try ointments
You can opt for ointments such as Aquaphor ointment or hydrocortisone 1% ointment. Although hydrocortisone is a product with its fair share of controversy in the medical sphere, some doctors recommend applying the ointment on the outer edges of the lips. However, other doctors would advise that you avoid it as ingesting the ointment is risky. If you opt to use it then avoid licking your lips.
5. Manuka honey
You can use Manuka honey to treat sunburnt lips. Honey contains anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce the swelling. Simply apply the honey on the lips. After 10 minutes, rinse off the honey and apply a moisturizer. Repeat the procedure several times a day, every day, until the lips heal.
6. Petroleum jelly
Using a petroleum jelly containing vitamin E is advisable as it will provide you with maximum moisture while at the same time soothing the lips.
Sunburnt Lips healing time
It takes time to heal sunburnt lips, about three weeks for badly sunburnt lips to about seven to ten days for typical sunburnt lips. If your lips have not healed within ten days, then it is advisable to consult a physician.
The healing time for sunburnt lips depends on the degree of damage. Mild to moderate sunburnt lips can heal within seven days. However, if your lips are severely swollen or if the swelling involves not only your lips but also your tongue, then you should consult a physician. Sometimes. The swelling of the lips may be due to an allergic reaction to the sun. The allergy can result in difficulty in eating, drinking or talking.