Are you diligent to protect your face and body from the sun but neglect your lips? You are not alone. A surprising number of people lather sunscreen on all exposed areas of their body, yet they forget the delicate skin on their lips. This can quickly lead to dry and sunburned lips. Not only can dry lips be uncomfortable, but it can also pose a serious risk in the form of skin cancer. Contrary to what many believe, the lips are not exempt from skin cancer!
Why are the lips prone to chapping and dryness? The skin on our lips are different than the skin on the rest of our body. The wet shiny part of our lips is covered with a thin delicate mucous membrane, which means they are missing that waterproof layer that normal skin contains on the outside. In result, the lips can dry out and get sunburned easier than other parts of our face.
There is a serious risk when the lips get frequently burned in the sun. Chronic sun damage on the lips can lead to actinic chelitis. Actinic chelitis is noted by rough, thickened skin with possible scabs or white, scaly patches. This is considered a pre-cancerous condition and must be addressed.
The Importance of Lip Care
Most of us fail to give our lips the attention and care they need. While the lips need moisture on a daily basis, many people (especially women) make the mistake of going outside with lip gloss or lipstick that contains petroleum jelly and oils. These ingredients don’t offer any SPF, and they can exacerbate sun damage. Essentially, you are frying your lips under the sun when you gloss them with these ingredients. In result, you may notice that your lips become dry, thin and discolored over time.
Optimal lip care includes applying products that nourish and plump the lips while also protecting the lip’s mucous membranes from sunburn. It is important to pay special attention to the lower lip, as the lower lip sticks out further and receives the most direct sunlight. When it comes to choosing the best SPF moisturizer for your lips, ask a dermatologist. At Olansky Dermatology, we are here to answer your questions about skin protection or evaluate your lips for signs of skin cancer. Call our Atlanta office today to schedule your appointment.