It’s summertime, which means you and your family are probably hitting the beach, spending time in the pool, or enjoying other outdoor activities. But while you’re preparing your skin for your day in the sun, you could be forgetting one vital area: your mouth. When you apply sunscreen, it is imperative that you remember the lips, and today we will explain why.
How the Sun Can Damage Your Lips
You’ve probably experienced chapped, flaky lips from staying in the sun too long. But that’s not the only damage that the sun can wreak. The sun’s harmful UV rays can cause skin cancer of the mouth. While lip cancer only makes up about 10% of all skin cancers, and the Oral Cancer Foundation says its numbers are declining, lip cancer is three times as aggressive as other forms of skin cancer.
How You Can Protect Your Lips from Cancer
Regular lip balm can keep your lips soft and smooth, but it can’t protect you from cancer. In fact, shiny lip gloss magnifies the sun’s rays and increases the chances of skin cancer. Everyone should wear lip product with an SPF of 30 or higher with an official seal from the Skin Cancer Foundation.
Symptoms of Lip Cancer
Knowing the symptoms of lip cancer is another important way of protecting yourself.
The condition can be easily confused with a cold sore, so educate yourself on the differences. The National Cancer Institute provides these specific signs of lip cancer:
- Sore on the lip or in the mouth that doesn’t heal.
- Lump on or thickening of the lips.
- Pain, bleeding, or numbness on the lips or in the mouth.
Although those symptoms are not necessarily signs of lip cancer, you should report any abnormalities with your lips or mouth to your dentist or physician. Dr. Thomas Villani or Dr. Richard Kondrat can check your mouth for the signs of oral cancer during a routine dental checkup or any time you notice alarming changes.