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Lips and Sun Damage

By

Bernard J. Hennessy

, DDS, Texas A&M University, College of Dentistry

Last full review/revision May 2020| Content last modified May 2020
CLICK HERE FOR THE PROFESSONAL VERSION

Sun damage (see also Overview of Sunlight and Skin Damage Overview of Sunlight and Skin Damage Sunlight stimulates vitamin D production, helps control some chronic skin diseases (such as psoriasis), and causes a sense of well-being. However, sunlight can cause skin damage. Damage includes... read more Overview of Sunlight and Skin Damage ) may make the lips, especially the lower lip, hard and dry. People over age 45 and people with light skin who have had extensive exposure to the sun are most susceptible to sun damage.

Sun-damaged lips are sometimes dry and scaly and feel like sandpaper. These changes are considered precancerous, particularly if the lip surface thins, reddens, and develops sores (ulcers). Sun-damaged lips with such changes should be evaluated by a doctor or dentist.

Sun damage to the lips can be minimized by covering the lips with a lip balm containing sunscreen and by shielding the face from the sun's harmful rays with a wide-brimmed hat.

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Test your knowledge
Lip Sores, Lip Inflammation, and other Changes
The lips undergo changes with aging, as do all parts of the body. Some changes may indicate a medical issue; others are harmless. As people age, the lips tend to become thinner. Deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals can lead to inflammation of the lips (cheilitis), causing them to become red, cracked, painful, swollen, and/or scaly. Deficiency of which of the following vitamins or minerals can cause these symptoms? 
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