How to Treat & Prevent Sunburned Lips? 5 Easy ways!

Can your lips get sunburned? Yes! Lips are particularly vulnerable to UV rays because their skin is thinner than that of the rest of the body and contains very little protective melanin.

Sunburned lips exhibit redness, swelling, tenderness, and irritation.

Sunburns on a regular basis can cause skin damage and increase the risk of developing cancer.

Home remedies and over-the-counter medications are used in treatment.

Sunburned lips with accompanying symptoms of inflammation, blistering, and so on can result from excessive exposure to the sun’s UVA rays. Repeated sunburn can have long-term consequences such as discoloration and an increased risk of skin cancer.

Lips are particularly susceptible to the sun’s harmful effects but frequently go unprotected. Fortunately, there are several ways to protect your lips from sunburn, including applying an OTC lip balm with an SPF of 30 or higher and taking some preventative measures.

What Causes Sunburned Lips?

Lips have thinner and less pigmented skin than the rest of the body, making them more susceptible to sunburn. The lower lip is especially delicate because it receives more sun exposure than the upper lip, which is protected by the nose and angled slightly downward. This helps to explain why 90% of lip cancers occur on the lower lip.

Sunburned Lips

Sunburn typically begins to manifest itself 2–5 hours after sun exposure, with full symptoms manifesting within 24 hours.

The severity of the symptoms will vary according to your level of sun exposure and where you fall on the Fitzpatrick skin type scale’s six categories. This is a critical tool for determining the color of the skin and the effects of UV radiation. UV damage puts skin types I–III at the greatest risk of sunburn and skin cancer, while skin types IV–VI are at the lowest risk.

Increased sensitivity, dryness and tightness, burning, and mild swelling are all symptoms of sunburned lips.

Itching is a common sign of healing. This is a normal response to the body’s wound-healing process and is caused by a number of factors, including the release of histamines as a result of the burn injury and the growth of new skin cells.

Sunburned lips symptoms typically last about one week, but can last up to two weeks in severe cases.

Sunburned Lips
Sunburned lips might cause skin damage if not treated

Sunburned lips blisters vs. cold sores

Sunburned lips blisters are frequently mistaken for the herpes simplex virus (cold sores).

Once infected, cold sores can be triggered in a variety of ways: exposure to the hot or cold sun, stress, or illness. A tingling and burning sensation in one area is a telltale sign of the development of a cold sore.

How to treat sunburned lips

Mildly, sunburnt lips can typically be treated effectively at home without the use of medication.

So what to do for sunburned lips? Follow these remedies to soothe your lips.

Alocasia vera

Aloe vera is a well-known plant that has a variety of beneficial properties for sunburnt lips. It is frequently used to alleviate the redness and pain associated with sunburns by reducing inflammation, and it has been shown to effectively cool overheated skin. It can hydrate dehydrated lips and aid in wound healing.

Additionally, aloe vera contains vitamins A, C, and E. These vitamins are antioxidants and have the ability to neutralize free radicals, thereby preventing further skin damage.


Moisturizers are highly effective at reducing swelling and redness and soothing irritated, dry skin.

Choose fragrance-free moisturizers like CeraVe or Vanicream which are formulated to rehydrate the skin. The first cream contains ceramides and hyaluronic acid, which aid in moisture retention and wound healing; the second is an occlusive agent that draws moisture to the lips and contains emollients that help soften and smooth them.

Oral Medications

Numerous OTC medications are available to treat moderate to severe sunburns via a variety of different mechanisms of action. Tylenol and ibuprofen (Advil) can help alleviate pain, while antihistamines can help with itching and swelling.


Sunburn depletes the body’s natural fluid reservoir.

Dehydration also impairs wound healing, preventing your sunburned lips from properly healing. It is critical to drink plenty of water to replenish this moisture loss.

Avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages while your lips heal, as these are diuretics and cause water loss.

Sunburned lips hydration
Hydration is important for sunburn recovery

Medications applied topically

Hydrocortisone cream is a topical medication that is frequently applied to the skin. It is safe to apply to the lips to alleviate redness and swelling – but use sparingly and refrain from licking them.

Additionally, you can choose from a variety of in-store lip balms—both medicated and unmedicated—to moisturize, soothe, and nourish your lips. Consider ingredients such as lanolin, a long-established treatment for extremely dry skin, shea butter, which is well-known for its anti-inflammatory and nourishing properties, and beeswax, which can help slough off dead skin and protect delicate lips.

How to Avoid Sunburned Lips

To avoid sun damage, it is highly recommended that you apply an SPF of at least 30 to all exposed skin areas as part of your daily skincare routine. Protect your lips at the same time with a lip balm that contains the same level of protection or a higher level of protection.

Use a generous amount of lip balm and reapply every hour or so; lip balm is easily rubbed off when eating or drinking. Avoid direct sunlight between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when UV rays are most dangerous. Continue this practice on cloudy days and in the winter, as UV rays can penetrate clouds.