Sunburned lips can be managed in various ways. It is important to note that your lips are prone to sunburn that results to discomfort and increases the risk for ending up with lip cancer.
The lower lip is quite vulnerable and at high risk to be affected by skin cancer.
What are the signs?
- Reddened and swollen lips
- Skin feels tender to the touch
For a minor case of sunburned lips, it usually lasts for 3-5 days.
When to consult a doctor
Generally, sunburned lips can be managed using home remedies. In case the lips are significantly swollen, breaking out in a rash or the tongue is inflamed, it is best to seek prompt medical care. These reactions might be signs of an allergic reaction to the sun.
If uncertain if the lips are seriously swollen, monitor if one or both lips are bigger than their normal size. The lip might feel “fat” and painful along with difficulty drinking, eating, talking or opening the mouth.
Management of sunburned lips
Sunburned lips can be managed with cooling and healing ointments. Since there is a high risk that anything placed on the lips is ingested, some of the conventional remedies used on the body are not ideal to be used on the lips.
When dealing with sunburned lips, the following can be used:
- Cold compress – using a soft washcloth, rinse it in cold water and place over the lips to relieve some of the hot sensation. Another alternative is to dip a washcloth in ice water or milk. The milk helps lessen the inflammatory response of the body. Do not apply ice directly on the burn since this can lead to further tissue damage.
- Compression – other soothing applications that can be used on the lips include cold potato slices, chamomile tea bags soaked in chilled water or lettuce.
- Aloe vera – Aloe vera provides a soothing effect to relieve the pain caused by sunburned lips. If a plant is available, simply take one of the stalks and crush the gel out to dab on the lips. You can also buy after-sun gels in most drug stores, just make sure that gels made from 100% aloe are chosen.
- Sheet masks – paper and sheet masks can provide a soothing effect on the sunburned lips. Select those that include moisturizing components such as aloe, shea butter, grape seed oil or other natural oils.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs – these drugs work to relieve the pain and redness.
- Moisturizers – adding moisture to irritated skin can help soothe the skin and allow it to heal.
Quick Note / Disclaimer
The material posted on this page on sunburned lips is for learning and educational purposes only. To learn to manage the injury, register for a first aid and CPR course with Mississauga First Aid.