Prolonged sun exposure can cause burns of varying degrees on the skin, and can be even worst for your lips, causing redness, burning, and discomfort. In this article I will explain how it happens, how to detect it, and give you some options for sunburn lips treatment, including home remedies.
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While the skin in the face has up to 16 cellular layers, the lip skin has in between three to five. Also the number of melanocytes, the producer of melanin pigment that helps to protect the skin from the sunburn, is smaller.
When you expose your mouth to the sunlight without the proper protection, you make it vulnerable to the UVA and UVB sunbeams. This happens even in days where the sun is not visibly, because those rays are not totally blocked by the clouds.
When the month is exposed to the sun for prolonged time, there may be dilation of the blood vessels and the occurrence of burns.
In general, sunburn begins with a redness (erythema), which then progresses to different degrees of pain, depending on the intensity and duration of exposure.
Here are some of the symptoms that you notice when you have sunburn on your lips. These will help you take the next step, when deciding what to do:
- Lips feel hot, throbbing and burning.
- The skin is very sensitive and feels burned when touched.
- The lips start to crack.
- There may be a certain amount of bleeding as well.
- The mouth sores and develops blisters.
- The skin can begin to peel.
- Pain and itching.
How to prevent
Yes, I know about it, you know about it: sunscreen! Exposure to the sun requires the use of a shield with SPF 15 or more – applied 30 minutes before sunrise – even on cloudy or rainy days. The filter needs to be protected against UVA and UVB rays, and their effectiveness varies depending on the amount applied and the exposure time. Look for lip balm or lipstick with sunscreen protection.
On the beach, in the park or in the swimming pool, use caps and umbrellas, as well as reapply the protector every two hours and whenever leaving the water, perspires excessively or dry with a towel.
Very important: If you have severe vesicles, blisters and intense pain, avoid the manipulation of the blisters and seek the guidance of a dermatologist, to avoid the possibility of dehydration, the appearance of herpetic labial viral infection (common in these situations), bacterial infection (impetigo), development of blemishes and scars on the skin.
No more sun for you
Your lips are now more vulnerable to the sun then normal. Avoid the sun as much as possible.
Clean the lips
Taking a care not to remove any damaged skin or popping the blisters, clean your mouth using antibacterial soap. If you have blisters, do not touch with contaminated hands.
Do not pop the blisters
Popping the blisters may delay the healing process. You should keep it clean, but let it heal by itself. If the blister is too big, it will probably pop. In this case, keep cleaning it.
Apply a cold compress
While not solving the problem, a cold compress can bring some relief to you and your body. Dip a cotton ball or gauze into a bowl of cold water and let it on your lip for a few minutes, relieving discomfort. Be careful not to rub it on your injured lips.
Keep it moisturized
Apply an antibiotic cream or balm. This helps prevent infections and facilitates skin growth. Use a treatment that contains allantois – this substance helps to regenerate, moisturize and protect the skin. Vitamin E, an antioxidant, also helps the sunburned lips. Buy vitamin E capsules from a local natural products store. Drill a capsule with a pin and squeeze the liquid. Rub on your lips during the day. Keep a few capsules with you to reapply when needed.
Relief the pain
You can use some medication that, while will not cure your problem, will bring you some relief while your body is doing the hard work: aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen will help you to relieve the pain.
What not to do
- Do not use Vaseline and similar products. They can trap the heat on your lips and make the problem worst.
- Do not lick! The natural tendency is to keep licking the lips because they feel dry. Licking one’s lips means nothing more than taking out all the moisture – which only defeats the purpose of moisturizing the lips first.
A useful and significant treatment for sunburn is aloe vera gel. This gel is found inside the aloe vera plant, and is recognized for its healing properties for millennia. The ancient Egyptians used it regularly in cures and beauty treatments for the skin. Aloe vera causes an immediate cooling and soothing effect on burned skin.
Cucumber or potato
Placing cold slices of cucumber or potato chips in the burned areas provides relief and regenerates the skin. Remove them after they get too warm.
Final tip: drink water
It is important to keep your body hydrated. You want your lips to be moisturized, and keep yourself hydrated is crucial in this process.