Your Lips Could Be Struggling with UV Exposure
Posted on 1/25/2021 by Brandon Cooley
|Just like the skin on your body, face, and the top of your head is all vulnerable to sunburn and skin cancer, the skin covering your lips can also be damaged by the harmful UV rays of sunlight. Read on to learn more about the consequences of UV exposure for your lips and oral health, and how to protect yourself.
How UV Exposure Harms Your Lips and Mouth
Long-term exposure to the ultraviolet rays in sunlight can put the skin covering your lips in danger. You can develop a condition called solar cheilitis, also known as actinic cheilitis, which causes the lips to become discolored, cracked, and dry. You might also notice sores, ulcers, or blisters on your lips. Solar cheilitis is considered a precancerous condition, as it can increase your risk of developing lip or skin cancer.
Because it is typically larger and more prominent, your bottom lip is about twelve times more likely to develop solar cheilitis and skin cancer than your top lip. People with fair skin are especially at risk for UV exposure-related damage on their lips, and your risk increases with age.
How is Solar Cheilitis Diagnosed and Treated?
If you have noticed any discoloration, dryness, sores, or other abnormalities on your lips, you should come see us. We will examine your mouth and recommend a biopsy if we believe that the symptoms you are experiencing were caused by sun damage. We will most likely refer you to your primary care doctor at this stage for further treatment. Typically, treatment for solar cheilitis involves removing individual lesions, “shaving” the entire covering of the lips if necessary, and closely monitoring the area for any changes.
Protecting Your Lips from Sun Damage and Keeping Your Mouth Healthy
Preventing sun damage is crucial for your whole body, including your lips. Do not overlook your mouth when it comes to sun protection; wear a lip balm that contains SPF and a wide-brimmed hat that shades your face, and remember to reapply lip balm frequently since it rubs off from drinking, eating, and licking your lips. Avoid extended sun exposure as much as possible, and do not use indoor tanning beds.
Keeping your lips healthy is linked to your oral health as a whole, and there are several things you can do to benefit both. Drink plenty of water to moisturize your lips, kill bacteria in your mouth, and keep your mouth clean and healthy. Avoid touching your lips, as this can spread bacteria from your fingers to your mouth. Finally, do not smoke, as smoking can not only discolor your lips and cause wrinkles around your mouth, but it also leads to gum disease, oral cancer, and many other serious health conditions. Call our office today to learn more about protecting the health of your lips and mouth.