Sunburned lips: What’s the fix?

Prolonged exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays can cause significant damage to the lips and lead to dryness and cracking...

Prolonged exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays can cause significant damage to the lips and lead to dryness and cracking.

The lips do not have oil glands and because of this they cannot produce their own moisture. However, natural moisturisers can help to fix the problem.

HOW TO HEAL SUNBURNED LIPS

While prevention is always better than trying to cure, we know that it's easier said than done.

1. Choose a good lip balm

Especially when your lips are damaged, it is important to be mindful of ingredients when choosing a healing lip balm.

Many lip balm formulas contain menthol or a mint flavouring. This can provide a cooling sensation at first, however mint is very drying and can leave the lips feeling even more chapped and dry than before. Other common drying ingredients in lip balms include camphor and phenol. Avoid scented and flavoured lip products, as these ingredients can also dry out the lips.

Look for lip balms that contain soothing and moisturizing ingredients, such as petroleum, lanolin and ceramides.

A bland emollient like Vaseline can help injured skin heal faster. Other great options are CicaPlast Lips from La Roche Posay, Nivea Sun lip balm with SPF 30, Eucerin Dry Skin Intensive Lip Balm, Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Balm with Honey (a natural anti-inflammatory) - which you can pick up in selected CarePlus Pharmacies.

2. Au Naturale

There are many effective natural remedies for chapped lips if you would prefer to go that route - you may even have some in your kitchen cupboard:

  • Aloe vera gel contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories that soothe and rehydrate damaged skin (ask your CarePlus Pharmacist about an Aloe Vera gel product to suit your needs)
  • Coconut oil combatsinflammation and is an emollient, which means that it can both soothe and soften the skin at the same time
  • Honey is highly moisturizing and anti-inflammatory, which makes it a great treatment product for dry lips. It also contains antioxidants and antibacterial properties, helping to prevent infections from developing on extremely dry or cracked lips
  • Cucumber gently moisturises the lips and cools the lips
  • Green tea - rich in antioxidants and minerals - also contains polyphenols which reduce inflammation. Soak a green tea bag in warm water and gently rub it over the lips to soften and remove excess dry skin.

Prolonged exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays can cause significant damage to the lips and lead to dryness and cracking.

The lips do not have oil glands and because of this they cannot produce their own moisture. However, natural moisturisers can help to fix the problem.

3. Gentle Exfoliation

Chapped lips are covered in a layer of dry skin that can prevent healing ingredients in lip balms from reaching the right area.

People can use lip scrubs that contain sugar or baking soda to gently exfoliate away this dry skin, however these may be too harsh for sun-damaged skin on the lips. The green tea bag method is a gentle way of exfoliating away any excess dry skin.

Skip on the more harsh, granular exfoliators until the lips are further along in the healing process.

woman smiling showing teeth

4. Hydrate

Dehydration is a major cause for chapped lips, especially if you have been in the sun.

People may not notice when they are slightly dehydrated, so it is a good idea to make a habit of drinking water throughout the day to avoid this occurring.

When the body is dehydrated, it pulls water from certain areas to ensure that the cells stay hydrated. This can cause dryness in the skin, including the sensitive, thin skin on the lips.

Other symptoms of dehydration include feeling thirsty, dry mouth, headaches and dizziness.

5. Avoid smoking

Tobacco smoke can irritate the sensitive skin around the lips, causing them to dry out and become more likely to crack. If the skin on the lips is already damaged from the sun, smoking will only aggravate this.

Smoking can also cause other problems in the mouth, such as mouth ulcers and gum pain. People may notice that dry, chapped lips tend to clear up shortly after they stop smoking.

Speak to our friendly CarePlus Pharmacists about quitting smoking for good.

TOP TIPS

The new skin on the lips after a sunburn is very delicate, so you should avoid anything that may slow or counteract the healing progress made:

  • Do not peel or bite off peeling skin
  • Leave blisters alone
  • Avoid harsh, granular exfoliators
  • Avoid hot or spicy foods and drinks
  • Prevent any further damage from sun exposure – use a lip balm containing SPF

Pop into your local CarePlus Pharmacy for any advice you may need on treating and preventing sun-burn.

 

*Information derived from HSE and Medical News Today



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