Sunburned Lips Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Sunburned lips are lips that have suffered the consequences of sun damage. When lip skin is subjected to direct UV rays without sunscreen protection, it suffers burns. With time, blisters that could be confused for cold sores may appear. Below we explore the symptoms, treatments as well as things you can do for sunburned lips prevention

Sunburned Lips Symptoms

According to Medical Treasure, the skin layer on the lips is quite thin. In addition, there is no form of lubrication or hair to provide protection. All this makes the lips vulnerable to sunburns. How do you know that your lips are sunburned and you are not experiencing a sore lip? Here are the symptoms so they can help in identifying the appropriate treatment:
  • Increased sensitivity of the lips upon touch with a burning sensation.
  • Heat sensations on the lips which may take a throbbing effect.
  • Tightening and cracking of the lips. In case of severely sunburned lips, they will be chapped and splits may occur as well.
  • Extreme lip tenderness that may lead to formation of blisters or sores with time on the lips.
  • Minor bleeding which may be followed by peeling of the skin. As a result, scabs and flakes may be seen on the lips.
  • Change in lip color to adopt a reddish hue.
  • Pain and itch on the lips.
  • Fluid-filled blisters which might break with time.

How to Treat Sunburned Lips

Sunburned lips are mostly as a result of negligence. Just as you are careful regarding sun exposure on your skin, so should you be when it comes to your lips. In case you failed to take proper care of your lips and have sunburns to show for it, here is how to treat sunburned lips as well as what to do for sunburned lips to heal.

Over the Counter Treatment

There are a number of over the counter treatments that can help cure sunburned lips. Aquaphor ointments prevent dehydration and will help facilitate fast healing.

Where the sunburn is severe, use one percent hydrocortisone cream. This should be used with caution and directed to the outer edges to avoid reaching inside the mouth. Use this up to three times a day.
To reduce the risk of secondary infections, use a topical antibiotic cream for severely chapped lips from sunburn. 

To curb pain related with sunburns, use Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen.

Ice Cubes

As soon as you experience sunburn on your lips, use ice cubes to soothe the after effects. This simple yet effective remedy only requires you to massage your lips with ice every 15 minutes. This will instantly soothe your lips and reduce pain and itch. 

Never apply ice directly on the skin as this could leave the lips worse and suffering frozen bites as well. Where no ice is available, a cold compress will do. Simply soak a clean piece of cloth in cold water and hold it on the lips with sunburns.

Cucumber Slices

Cucumbers are succulent and will help reverse the drying effects of the sunburns. In addition, they will help in getting rid of the resulting lip discoloration. Slice a cucumber and gently rub it on the lip skin to help soothe it.

Potato Juice

Potato juice contains starch that will help relief the symptoms of a sunburned lip. You could slice and rub a potato on the lips. Alternatively, peel and blend one then apply the paste on the lips. Allow it to dry before washing it off.

Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe is a great anti-inflammatory product. It will work wonders on the lips by soothing the pain, itch as well as irritation resulting from sunburns. Scoop some gel from a freshly cut aloe leaf and apply it on the lips. Allow it to rest till dry before rinsing it off.

Vitamin E Oil

This oil is appropriate for both grownups and kids. Vitamin E oil promotes the growth of new skin and thus facilitates fast healing of sunburned lips. It can also help to prevent sunburn scars. After eating and before sleeping, coat your lips with vitamin E oil and leave it on without rinsing.

How Long to Heal Sunburned Lips?

At times, you might be concerned that your sunburned lips are not healing. This leads us to a common concern: how long does it take to heal sunburned lips?

The duration of time it takes for lips to recover from a sunburn depends on the severity of the burn. In most cases, the skin will start to regenerate and peel within a few days. In case there were blisters they will dry up and heal in a week or so.

Generally, first degree sunburns will take about a week to be completely healed while second degree burns will take at least two weeks. Of importance during this time is to take proper care of your lips to facilitate fast healing as well as protect them from secondary infections.

What to Do for Sunburned Lips to Heal Fast

In addition to treatments suggested above, there are a few things you can do and those you should not do so as to facilitate quick healing of sunburned lips. Below is what to do for sunburned lips:
  • Licking your lips tends to dry the lips up. Avoid this to preserve moisture for the damaged tissue.
  • To further protect your lips from drying, keep your lips well moisturized. Also drink a lot of water to keep your body well hydrated.
  • Avoid using lip products until there is significant healing. Once the healing starts to progress, apply a lip balm, gloss or lipstick with sunscreen protection. The best of these as well as chapsticks are those with an SPF factor of 15-30.
  • Avoid using Vaseline as this could see the healing of the sunburns prolonged due to its potential to trap heat and make the burns worse.
  • To prevent infections, use antiseptic wipes on the lips every now and then.

How to Prevent Sunburned Lips

Once your sunburned lips have healed, it is important to keep them protected against future burns. To achieve this, choose a lip gloss, balm and lipstick with an SPF factor. Anything with a 15-30 SPF factor is fine.

With this, always apply some 20 minutes before going outdoors and keep reapplying it the whole day. This will ensure the lips are protected against the harmful rays throughout the day.

Where possible, minimize the amount of time spent outdoors. Where possible, venture outdoors when the sun is least severe. This is early in the morning and late in the afternoon. This way your lips will have maximum protection throughout the day.

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