While it's common knowledge that you need to protect your skin with sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, it's common for people to forget to protect their lips as well. The lips are just as vulnerable to the sun and can cause you to develop cancer. Your lips are almost always exposed to the sun, and they consist of only a small layer of skin and they have very little melanin. Lips also almost never tan. Fortunately, there are a few ways you can better protect your lips from the sun.
Consider Applying Sunscreen
One approach is to simply apply sunscreen to your lips as well. The sunscreen will provide the exact same protection. However, you may not like the sensation of sunscreen on your lips.
Use an SPF Lip Balm
Fortunately, there are lip balms designed to protect your lips from the sun. Check the label to find out the SPF and make sure it is at least 15 so you know if the lip balm is strong enough to provide adequate protection. The lip balm should provide broad spectrum coverage because this will protect you from each type of UV ray. If you are spending all day outside, you should reapply the lip balm every two hours. The lower lip is the most likely part to be affected, so make sure you apply the most lip balm to the lower lip.
Don't Use Lip Gloss or Lipstick
Avoid wearing lip gloss or lipstick because both are only layered on the top of the lips. The lip gloss can absorb light and actually make the lips more susceptible to skin cancer.
Watch for Lip Cancer Symptoms
If your lips have developed certain symptoms, such as numbness, pain or an unexplained thickening, you might be showing some of the early signs of skin cancer of the lips and you will need to see your doctor so you can be scheduled to see a skin cancer specialist. The good news about lip cancer is that it is highly visible, which means it is more likely to be detected early. If you do have lip cancer, you will have to have a layer of your lip removed to eliminate the cancerous cells before they spread.
Avoid Other Risk Factors
Sun exposure is not the only risk factor for lip cancer. Those who consume alcohol and smoke are also more likely to suffer from lip cancer. Also, anyone who is placed under an immunosuppressant is more likely to develop lip cancer. For example, those who have undergone a kidney transplant are likely to be under immunosuppressants.
For more information about skin cancer and treatment options, contact a company such as TrueSkin Dermatology & Surgery, Inc.