Summer Lip Care: How to Protect Your Lips from Sun
In 2012, close to 70,000 Americans have been diagnosed with melanoma of the skin. Over 9,000 died of the disease in the same year. These reports, based on statistics made available by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), make skin cancer the most common type of cancer in the country. CDC also reports that oral cancer, including cancer of the lips, account for an estimated 2% to 4% of all cancer cases registered every year. CDC has also pointed out that lip cancers are primarily caused by exposure to UV radiation.
According to the National Cancer Institute, about 70% of American adults have learned to protect their skin by applying sunscreen, wearing sun-protective clothing or, spending more time in the shade.
Unfortunately, a prior study conducted in 2005 by researchers from the Department of Dermatology of the University of Texas Medical Branch showed that only 37% of beachgoers wore both sunscreen on their skin and their lips, while the rest often forgot to wear or completely unaware that they should also be putting on sunscreen protection for their lips.
How the Sun Can Damage Your Lips
Dry, chapped lips and wind burns are the least of your concerns when you know that you haven’t been quite religiously putting on sun protection for your lips. The larger concern is how much you have already put yourself at risk for lip cancer simply by letting your lips be exposed without protection under the sun.
You will benefit from knowing that the following factors increase your risk for acquiring lip cancer:
- Unprotected sun exposure
- Cigarette smoking
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Poor oral health
- Use of indoor tanning beds
There is no other way to know if you have lip cancer other than seeking medical diagnosis and advice. If you suspect that you may have lip cancer, make an appointment with your doctor. Some of the common signs and symptoms of lip cancer are listed below but, these may vary from person to person:
- chronic bleeding of the lips that is accompanied by pain
- sores, swelling, ulcers, wounds, lesions or lumps that may either be painful or not when pressed but, does not disappear
- painful blisters
- Use a lip balm infused with at least a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) 15. Just as you would normally do to skin on your face and body, apply your SPF balm at least 30 minutes before stepping out into the sun. Re-apply constantly, at least every two hours, for all-day lip care and UV protection.
- Don’t smoke. If you do not smoke now, do not ever attempt to as it can lead to nicotine addiction. If you are a smoker, now is the best time to quit. You do know that lip cancer is just one of several cancers and one of a myriad of diseases that you can derive from smoking.
- Regulate alcohol intake. Alcohol is not a bad habit through and through but, only if you drink in moderation. Anything in excess of 1 glass or 1 bottle can be possibly excessive, depending on the type of alcoholic beverage that you are drinking.
- Practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth up to three times daily. Get your teeth checked by a dentist periodically, at least twice every year. Dentists are often the ones who identify the presence of lip cancers.
- Refrain from using indoor tanning beds. Tanning beds contain the same amount and intensity of UV radiation as the sun, and are therefore, bad to your skin’s overall health.
- Stay in the shade. If there is absolutely no compelling reason for you to bask in the sun then, don’t! Stay in the shade and by so doing, you are protecting your skin and your overall health. You know, there are many other ways to flatter your skin, and a good tan (that does not last anyway), is never really your best option. Simply learn to love the skin you’re in, and you should be good to go!
- Exfoliate your lips regularly. Your lips are part of your skin. Keep them supple, thoroughly cleansed, and free from dead skin cells by exfoliating daily.
- Wear lip products that won’t damage your skin or cause adverse effects to your health. First up, read the labels. When you see too many ingredients or words there that you don’t understand, pass up on the product. It probably won’t do you any good anyway. Also, make sure that your lip products are not expired. If they are, ditch it away. They’re not worth the dollar.
Read Also: 10 Natural Remedies for Dark Lips
Protecting Your Lips
Do not become a statistic. Practice good daily habits in skincare — and, don’t forget to include your lips in the equation. In fact, lips do not contain melanin, making them more susceptible to sun damage and therefore to lip cancer more than any other skin area on your face and body.
Here are some easy ideas for you to take better care of your lip health:
Lip health is a subject often neglected and yet, the subject deserves so much attention. Beyond keeping your lips beautiful and attractive, go for practices that promote lip health. It’s for your own good!