The layer of skin on the lips is very thin. It also does not have any kind of lubrication provided by the oil glands or a protective covering of hair. Hence, the lips are very vulnerable to damage after exposure to the sun. Dermatologists recommend the use of lip balms with a minimum SPF of 15 so as to avoid the development of sunburned lips.
Sunburned lips can be treated with medications, self-care, and home remedies.
Symptoms of sunburned lips
The below listed signs and symptoms may accompany an instance of sunburned lips. It will help identify the presence of the condition so that affected people can opt for relevant treatment.
- There may be sensations of heat on the lips. It is similar to burning or throbbing sensations that one may experience after exposure to excess heat.
- Excessive sensitivity of the skin on the lips. Upon touch, the lips will feel as if they have been burnt.
- There may be cracking of the lips. This may be accompanied by tightening of the skin.
- Severe instances of sunburned lips may be accompanied by chapping of lips as well as occurrence of splits.
- Excessive tenderness of the skin. This may trigger the development of blisters and/or sores on the lips after some time.
- Sunburned lips may elicit minor bleeding.
- Bleeding can cause the skin to peel and develop scabs, which may eventually flake off.
- Changes in the color of lips; it may become abnormally pinkish or reddish.
- Increased itchiness and pain may be prevalent. The pain is more intense as compared to sunburns that affect other areas of the body.
How to treat sunburned lips?
Listed below are some home remedies and treatment options for sunburned lips:
Use of moisturizers
- Keeping the sunburned lips moisturized is the best way to find relief. You may take lots of petroleum jelly and apply it gently on the lips. Alternate this treatment option with the use of lip balms with some sunscreen content. Ensure that new coats of the jelly are applied as soon as the lips become dry.
- Use of product with wax, vitamin E, and lanolin as ingredients can also help avoid the dispersion of moisture from the lips. Patients may apply vitamin E oil on the lips, just before sleeping or after eating. This help lock the oil on the lip skin for long periods of time. It may be noted that pure vitamin E oil helps avoid the development of scars and facilitates the development of new skin. It can also be safely used on children, in low doses to avoid toxic side effects. Adults may also open up vitamin E capsules and apply it on sunburned lips.
Application of cold compresses
- Burning sensation and pain can be alleviated via use of cold compresses. Wet some napkins and freeze them by placing them in the freezer. Later, apply the frozen napkins/cold compresses on the affected lips to get instant relief from discomfort and pain. Repeat the process several times per day. It is important to avoid touching sunburned lips as it will only worsen the condition and interrupt the process of healing.
- Aloe vera naturally has skin cooling and soothing properties. You may buy non-fragrant aloe vera gel and apply it on the lips. It will not only considerably decrease inflammation, burning sensation, and pain, but will also aid the healing process. Use of aloe vera gel is also marked by reduced peeling of lip skin.
- Patients may also pluck the leaf off an aloe vera plant, peel out the thick upper layer and rub the flesh inner section of the leaf across the sunburned lips. Such natural aloe vera juice however tend to dry rapidly as opposed to commercial products which also contain extra oils to extend the remedial effects of aloe and prevent its easy dissipation.
- Ingestion of aloe can cause digestive problems like loose motions, etc. Additional precaution must especially be taken by children and pregnant women to avoid the side effects of aloe vera when using it on the lips.
- Application of a paste made from crushed petals of rose and sandalwood powder can also cool the sunburned lips and help its recovery.
- Olive oil also helps sooth and alleviate the inflammation and pain. However, avoid sun exposure after the application of olive oil on lips.
- Potato juice is another effective home remedy for sunburned lips. The starch occurring in potato can help soothe and cool the lip skin and alleviate the burn. You may grate a potato and let the juice drain out via a strainer, or juice a raw potato in a blender. Apply the juice on the lips and let it remain there for as long as possible.
- Make a paste using turmeric and milk cream or butter and apply on the lips. Turmeric has antiseptic properties which will help repair and heal the lips, while milk cream and butter offers a cooling effect.
Intake of water and other beverages
- Sunburned lips occur due to loss of moisture from the lip skin. Drinking lots of water and other juices will rehydrate the body, add moisture to the lips, and help remedy the sunburn.
Use of antiseptic wipes
- Severe cases of sunburned lips may be prone to development of blisters. In such cases consult a doctor and then use antiseptic wipes on the lips to avoid any future cases of infections. It may also help prevent the occurrence of fever and/or cold sores.
Sunburned lips tend to feel dry. Hence, most patient end up licking the lips as a force of habit. However, licking sunburned lips should be avoided at all costs as it will take out all the moisture from the lips. This in turn is detrimental to the recovery process.
Like all other conditions, sunburned lips will also heal slowly over some time. Hence, it is essential to wait, be patient, and give the condition some time to recover fully.
Using sunscreens with at least 15 SPF or lip balms with sunscreen content can help avoid sunburned lips. Use of hats, sunglasses, and other sun-protection gear will also help avoid sunburned lips.
Pictures of sunburned lips