Here in the UAE, summertime is well underway. Now that the heat is cranking up in a major way, so should our efforts in protecting ourselves during this time to avoid heat or sun-related health complications. Apart from hydrating often and wearing sunscreen and appropriate clothing, sunburnt lips are something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

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Most people apply sunscreen all over themselves, forgetting to get their lips covered. Sun-damaged lips can lead to flaking skin on the lips, severe pain, cracks, and bleeding. If it is extremely severe, it can even lead to more serious problems such as skin cancer.

Symptoms of Sunburned Lips

sunburned lips

Sometimes your lips can become naturally dry. You’ll notice it will start flaking, feel dry as well as tightness. However, sunburned lips can be clearly distinguished by the below symptoms.

  • Redder lips
  • Swelling or change in size
  • Feel very tender and sensitive to touch
  • Blisters or cuts on the skin
  • Bleeding lips
  • Pain

None of these symptoms are directly felt right after exposure to the sun. During exposure, you may only feel that they are dry. These symptoms will become more apparent a few hours after exposure. When these symptoms begin, they will usually last from three to five days. If sun exposure was long and harsh, symptoms might be aggravated, and recovery time will take longer.

How to Soothe Sunburned Lips

sunburned lips

Sunburnt lips are sometimes self-treatable and can be recovered from without medication or a visit to the doctor. Here are some simple and effective ways to reduce the effects of sunburnt lips as well as speeding up the recovery time.

  • Compress your lips with something cold. Rinse a washcloth with icy water, wrap something frozen in a thin towel or put on a cold object directly onto your lips. You don’t need to add too much pressure as it may cause discomfort. A gentle touch is all you need. Do this for a couple of minutes, and it can reduce the swelling as well as the pain.
  • Apply Aloe Vera. A soothing gel or counter pain containing aloe Vera is excellent for sunburns. Most drug stores have topical agents with aloe Vera that can be applied to your lips. Aloe Vera can help to soothe the pain, hydrate dry skin, and reduce swelling. To make the gel more effective and feel even better is to keep it in the fridge and apply the gel while it’s freezing to give you a cooling sensation.
  • Medication with anti-inflammatories. Medications such as ibuprofen are great in speeding up the recovery time as well as reducing the rate of swelling. If you notice that you are sunburnt, taking the medication as soon as possible can help to reduce the severity of your symptoms. Just be sure to speak with your doctor about this medication if you have a current health condition or medication stack.
  • Moisturizers. Using a moisturizer as a topical for sunburnt lips is probably the first thing you should do if you notice symptoms or have dry lips in general. Moisturizers specially designed for the lips can help your lips to recover faster, as well as decreasing the likeliness of blisters developing. Just be sure that whatever moisturizer you use does not contain petroleum as it will seal the heat within your sunburnt lips.

How to Prevent Sunburned Lips

sunburned lips

Preventing sunburnt lips is very simple. It’s just like preventing sun damage for the skin. Use a lip balm or lipstick designed for protection for the sun. Many stores will sell these products, especially in the summer. Choose one that has at least an SPF of 30. Reapplying your lip balm every few hours should become a habit.

Hydrating with plenty of fluids is extremely important to do this summer. If your entire body is lacking water, not only you are easier to get sunburned lips, but also it will take time to heal. Make sure you’re drinking at least up to 2 litres per day. Keeping your lips moist now and then can also do your lips great favour.

When to See a Doctor?

sunburned lips

If you notice that none of the home remedies works and that recovery time doesn’t seem to be working on your side, see a doctor immediately. If you notice symptoms such as severely swollen lips, tongue, slurred speech or skin rash, treat it as an emergency.

You won’t be able to know or confirm whether your sunburnt lips are more serious than it looks unless you speak with a doctor. Apart from self-treatment, a doctor may provide you with medication or other advice.

Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.