Chances are pretty good that if you forgot to put sunscreen on your face and body, you also forgot to put it on your lips! Your lips are completely different type of skin and really need protection. Here's why:
Your lips are moistened every time you eat and drink. Because of this, any sunscreen lip balm you have on your lips is often not on very long. The skin on your lips is thinner, too. Because your lips have thinner skin, you are at more risk for lip cancer, especially if you work in the outdoors and do not daily wear a lip sunscreen of at least SPF 20. Your lips also are a prominent feature on your face. If they are wet, they will reflect the light and dangerous UVB rays can cause a harsh sunburn. Even worse, dangerous UVA rays can cause permanent cellular damage in the deepest layers of your lips!
Treating sunburned lips is similar to treating other kinds of sunburn. Since the skin is thinner, lips that are sunburned may blister whereas other areas of the body that are sunburned may not blister. The good news is that lip blisters from sunburn will most likely heal on their own without much intervention from you or a doctor. But if they are really painful and you have a lot of blisters, PLEASE go see your doctor!
Here are a few tips to help the healing process, but remember we are not physicians and these are tips not medical advice or instructions:
1. Stay out of the sun until your lips heal. That means if you burned your lips the first pool day of the summer, you better stay inside for a few days. The more you expose your lips to the sun's rays the longer the healing process will take. Also, re-exposing already sunburned lips means even more damage can be done.
2. Watch what you put in your mouth! Use a straw when drinking so that you can avoid contact between your lips and the cup. You may want to also stay away from "hot" beverages. Spicy food might also be something you want to stay away from, too.
3. If you use an ointment of any kind, make sure you avoid petroleum-based products and lotions that contain benzocaine or lidocaine. These will actually cause a very bad burning sensation that will no doubt leave you even more uncomfortable. Instead, opt for a natural or organic product. In our house we use Waxelene when other people would use Vaseline. You can find Waxelene on Amazon and we love it! It is our "go to" ointment for chapped lips, cuts and scrapes, and a great carrier base for essential oils when needed.
Waxelene is non-petroleum based, all natural, eco friendly, biodegradable, and has no GMOs. It is very skin moisturizing, offers great protection for your lips, feet or anywhere you need some extra moisture. Coat your feet in it and go to bed with socks on and you will wake up to super soft feet! It has a pleasant odor, too! It comes in a tube or a jar, so it is easy to apply no matter where you find yourself with burnt lips or calloused feet!
Another product we've used with great success when burns are really bad, is All Good Goop. This is a jar of heaven for your lips and skin. If you have any kind of skin trauma, I cannot say enough good things about the healing properties I've witnessed first hand with All Good Goop. Like Waxelene, this is a natural product with nothing but the finest ingredients. All Good Goop is great for cuts, scrapes, abrasions, minor burns, sunburn, insect bites, stings, dry skin, chapped lips, diaper rash, blisters, cracked hands, callouses, scars, and so much more. It is small batch handcrafted in a Solar Powered Kitchen and made with Certified Organic Herbs and Olive Oil, including hand harvested calendula (another great herb for skin issues) from the farm belonging to the owner of All Good Goop. This heavenly salve provides nutrients for the skin to help your skin regenerate new tissue and heal wounds. This salve is astringent, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal. Yeah, it's a powerhouse of skin healing goodness in a jar. And the smell? Think of fresh lavender and and green herbs!
4. Cool and moist! Keep your lips cool and moist. You can do this with just cold water or you could ramp things up and use some Aloe gel, the natural kind from the pulp of the Aloe Vera Plant. We get our Aloe from Pompeii Organics. If you have essential oils on hand, you can make a roller ball blend with Aloe and just 3 drops of lavender in 5 ml of Aloe gel. Pompeii has 5 ml roller bottles in stock and they also have lavender essential oil. After you cap your roller ball bottle with the Aloe/Lavender blend inside, simply roll it on your lips as often as you think of it. The goal is to keep your lips moist as much as possible. If you have ever had an issue with lavender essential oil or lavender in general, stay on the safe side and just put the Aloe gel in the roller ball bottle.
5. Wear a hat with a brim wide enough to shield your whole face, not just your nose and eyes. A lot of people don't even realize that their hat or visor isn't shading their lips. Next time you pick out a hat to wear while you read in your pool in your water hammock, first check and see if the sun is hitting your lips. If it is, and you don't have another hat that will shade your whole face, lather up the sunscreen on your face and use a lip balm with an SPF of 20 or higher. Do this all the time, not just when you have already burned your lips from too much sun.
6. Wear a lip balm that has an SPF of at least 20 when you know your lips will be in direct sunlight or reflected light off the surface of a pool, lake or ocean. If you ski, remember to do this in the winter before you hit the slopes, too. Here are a few lip balms the American Dermatology Association recommends:
Keeping your lips safe in the sun is just as important as keeping the rest of your body safely covered in sun protection.
Tomorrow we'll tackle how to handle sunburn!