Protecting your smile in the sun

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August 17th, 2018

August is pool/beach/lake season – which makes it the perfect time to read up on the importance of sun protection. Did you know a particularly important part of your body to protect from the sun is your smile?

Because of the thin layer of skin that contributes to your lips’ red color, they’re particularly vulnerable to UV rays. Plus, your lips are low in melanin – a pigment that helps protect skin from the sun. Your lower lip has an even higher risk of sunburn due to its shape and angle to the sun.

Direct sunlight

One of the best ways to protect your lips is to take the most care during (or avoid direct sunlight during) peak hours when the sun is most intense – that’s between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.

When in the sun, consider blocking UV rays with a hat, wear sunscreen and apply lip balm with an SPF 30+ rating. SPF lip balm needs to be applied more frequently than sunscreen. Keep it nearby so you can reapply about once every hour or after eating, drinking and licking your lips.

How to manage burnt lips

If you forgot lip balm and your lips are feeling the burn, try these at-home care options:

  • Avoid the sun while your lips are healing
  • Use Aloe vera to relieve the burning sensation and a cold compress to soothe the lips
  • Take an anti-inflammatory to reduce pain
  • Moisturize to help the skin heal.

If these at-home options aren’t working, you may need to seek medical help. Call your physician immediately if your lips or tongue are swollen or if you develop a rash.

Protecting your lips is a year-round job! Be sure to keep sunscreen and SPF 30+ lip balm handy no matter the season.