We all splurge on lipsticks and lip balms to keep our lips feeling soft and looking great. But when it comes to sunburn, we hardly ever realise that our lips could get affected too. We often associate sunburn with shoulders, forehead and the back, forgetting that our lips also get sunburned. The skin on our lips is thinner than the other parts of our body, making them more vulnerable to sunburn and chronic sun damage. In fact, did you know that your lower lip is more likely to be affected by skin cancer than your upper lip?
The oil glands on our lips are lesser, hence, they have no ability to create sun-filtering natural melanin, which means they have no protective layer of their own. Due to the same reason, our lips often react to the weather. We get chapped lips in winters, we face dehydrated lips due to dry air and our lips get sunburned due to the harsh sun.
Regular use of lip balms with UVA-protecting ingredients like avobenzone, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide can prevent sunburned lips. However, there’s much more you can do to protect and heal them.
Sunburned lips are caused by heat and radiation. The first layer of lip-skin is burned due to the heat which causes redness, slight tenderness and peeling of the skin within 24 to 48 hours of the injury. A second-degree burn, that is a more serious sunburn can cause deeper damage. It can cause blisters which may take longer to heal. Blisters usually appear after a few hours of sunburn and they may take up to 24 hours to develop.
These blisters are extremely painful and may take around a week to heal. You would want to steer clear of this as the burn increases the risk of developing skin cancer and melanoma. Even after the blisters heal, they leave a scar that’s visible for six to twelve months.
The best way to prevent sunburned lips is to stay out of the sun. However, as it isn’t the most practical solution, here are a few more things you can take care of to maintain your lips’ health.
If you can prevent the lips from sunburn, great. However, if you fail to do so for any reason, you can treat sunburned lips with healing and cooling ointments. The traditional healing methods that you use for the rest of your body during sunburn may not be of good use for your lips. However, here are a few things that’ll help you heal swollen sunburned lips.
Take a soft washcloth (preferably cotton) and rinse it in cold water. Let it rest on your lips to reduce the burning feeling. You can also dip the washcloth in ice water but do not apply ice on your burn directly.
Aloe Vera is known for its soothing properties. The gel can be useful in relieving the pain during sunburn. If you have a plant at home, break off one of the stalks, squeeze the gel out and apply it to your lips. You can also purchase an aloe gel from the drugstore. However, try to go for a 100 per cent aloe product for your lips. Store it in the refrigerator for a cooling sensation.
Due to sunburn, your lip-skin may feel irritated. Hence, adding back the moisture to the skin will help in hydrating the area. Apply a moisturiser as the moisture will help protect and soothe skin while it heals. However, avoid moisturisers that contain petroleum. They seal the heat from the sunburn.
To ease the pain and redness associated with sunburn, you can take anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen.
Hydrocortisone is a medication used to treat skin conditions such as insect bites, poison oak, eczema, dermatitis, allergies, rash, itching of the outer female genitals and anal itching. You can apply Hydrocortisone 1 per cent cream to your sunburned lips. But if you apply it, be careful to not lick your lips as this product is not meant to be ingested.
Avoid petroleum-based products as they seal the heat from sunburn into the skin. Also, avoid any products that have ‘-caine’ listed such as lidocaine. These can cause irritation and allergic reactions. Do remember that these ingredients aren’t suitable for ingestion.
If your lip sunburn turns into blisters and swells, avoid popping the blisters. It’s also better to speak with your doctor before starting any treatment.
Lip balms with SPF are the best way to keep your lips guarded and hydrated against sun damage. Here’s a list of best lip balms with SPF that’ll protect your pout against sun damage.
This orange lip care has a moisture retention formula that keeps the skin on your lips soft and supple. It comes with SPF 30 and PA+++ which provide high protection against UVA rays. The orange extract, vitamin E and antioxidants protect the lips from further environmental damages. The balm has a sheer tint and mild fragrance. It is free of mineral oils, silicones, petroleum jelly and preservatives.
This lip balm provides intense hydration to dry and chapped lips. With SPF 30, the product claims to protect the natural barrier function of the skin on your lips. It prevents sunburn by protecting the thin layer of the skin on the lips from UVA and UVB rays. The ingredients make the product even more interesting. It contains Jojoba oil and vitamin E. It is dermatologically and clinically tested and is without any preservatives.
This unscented lip balm with SPF 15 is PABA-free. The lip balm works well throughout the year regardless of the weather conditions. Even if you have dry lips, you’ll get soft and conditioned lips after the regular use of this lip balm. The best part is that it doesn’t leave your lips feeling greasy and protects them against sun damages.
This hydrating lip balm comes with SPF 15 and provides an instant soothing effect to the lips. It protects the lips from getting damaged and moisturises them. It comes with vitamin E and wheat germ oil. It has a mild vanilla fragrance and is suitable for all skin types.
This lip balm is ultra-moisturising as it has cocoa butter. It contains vitamin E that prevents chapped lips and protects lips from sun damage. It has a mild fragrance and is known for giving long-lasting moisture throughout the year.
If it’s a mild scald or burn, it can be treated at home through cold-compressing, aloe vera gel, moisturisers and anti-inflammatories. Make sure you don’t keep touching the burned area and do not apply direct ice on it.
Aloe Vera is really good for hydrating the lips and reducing the pain. But be sure that you are using a 100 per cent aloe product on the lips in case you accidentally ingest it. Moisturisers with shea butter, beeswax, vitamin E, castor seed oil, coconut oil and almond oil are also very soothing and healing for sunburned lips.
During the healing process, the skin may peel. It can take anywhere from three to 20 days for a first-degree burn to heal completely. Do consult your doctor if it worsens. But be patient as the healing time depends on the affected area.
Sun poisoning is a severe case of sunburn and takes longer than a first-degree sunburn to heal. The redness and blistering may show after a few hours if the poisoning has occurred. With similar treatment to that of sunburn, sun poisoning can be cured in a time span of 20-30 days.
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