Why lip sunscreen is so important!

I am trying to find a good sunscreen for lips, preferably with zinc. Any suggestions? Thank you

This is great. I’ve seen at least 4 patients in the last two weeks with problems on the lips with precancerous spots and skin cancers. This is a frequent problem. And it is PREVENTABLE!! Both lower lips and upper lips (which go all the way up to the nose) can develop skin cancers and pre-cancers (actinic keratoses), which is why you should use lip sunscreen.

How to spot problems on your lips?

  •  Spots on the lips or just above or below that persistently are red, pink or a little scaly?  These can be tiny, even just a couple of millimeters.
  •  Areas, especially on the lower lips, where you’ve have “chapped lips” for longer than a month or two?
  • Do you have spots that come and go but always come back in the same spot?
  • Do you have spots that bleed easily, itch or just otherwise feel a little sensitive for longer than a month or two ?

If any of the above apply, please have your dermatologist check, or at least your primary care provider.  If your doctor isn’t concerned and the spot persists, please seek a second opinion.

What NOT to do:

  • If you are a lip licker (your friends and family can tell you :)), please stop, use a moisturizing lip product with sunscreen, and give them a month to heal. If they don’t heal, please see your doctor.
  • Please don’t pull off scaly skin or pick!! It just keeps the area from healing properly.
  • Please don’t procrastinate. A certain type of skin cancer on the lips – squamous cell carcinoma – can sometimes be fatal if left to grow.
  • If you have “cold sores” and one lasts longer than a month, please get this checked by your doctor.

Good sunscreen products for the lips. There are several in the shop here:

  • Put the sunscreen you put on your face every morning all the way over and on your lips too.
  • The Jack Black is great for indoors and indoor work days.
  • A more matte lipstick gives you a little protection but put a lip sunscreen over it.
  • For high altitude sports like climbing, mountaineering, skiing… get the white climbers zinc at REI or another outdoor shop.
  • We will be adding the new Colorscience lip product with zinc to the shop in July.

Hope this helps,

Dr. I

 

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

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