Sunburned Lips

So, you went out for a bike ride or to a ball game and came home with sunburned lips? Sunscreen isn’t only useful at the beach. This article will help you out. You’ll learn the symptoms to watch for, and get a good idea of the available treatment options. The pictures included will help you to determine whether you have sunburned lips or just chapped lips, as might be caused by windburn or other causes.

Sunburned Lips


If you read our articles often, you already know the importance of slathering sunscreen on when you’re headed out on sunny days. It is a critical step in the prevention of skin cancer, but it also protects you from aging skin signs, like spots and wrinkling, which are often attributed to damage from the sun.

You may not have known that lips can be sunburned if you don’t protect them, too. Even people who protect their skin can forget about their lips. If you’re one of these people, you’ve probably had sunburned lips at times, because of it.

Sunburned Lips Symptoms

Swelling and reddening of your lips are the obvious signs of sunburnt lips. They may be tender to your touch, and sore, warm and dry. They will often begin cracking, and can even bleed. The skin may peel, several days after the lips are exposed to the most damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays.

Blisters are swollen areas filled with fluid, which can make an appearance in severe sunburn cases. Other symptoms of severe lip sunburn include nausea, fever and fatigue.

Sunburned Lips Pictures

As the old saying goes, one picture can be worth 1000 words. Pictures are valuable in pointing to the symptoms of sunburnt lips. Take a look at our photos, so you’ll know what to look for.



Some people also experience blisters on their lips, and these are usually a symptom of   second degree sunburn. It extends down through the top layer of skin, the epidermis. The fluid within blisters on the lips generally comes from damaged skin cells within lower skin layers.

Blisters can form after only a few hours of excessive sunlight exposure, or a few days after the exposure.

Swollen Sunburned Lips

Lips sunburned from exposure to UV rays are commonly swollen. They usually respond quite well to hydrocortisone creams, cold compresses and moisturizing.

If your lips do not improve – if they still show swelling a week to 10 days after your initial exposure – consult your physician or dermatologist. You may be dealing with something more serious than simple sunburn. If your tongue is swollen, in addition to your lips, seek medical help right away.

Treating Sunburned Lips – What to Do and How to Heal them

If you have forgotten to protect your lips using sunscreen, your resulting sunburnt lips may cause pain when you’re kissing, laughing or eating. So now you’re probably wondering about the best ways to treat them. Here are some useful options:

  • Cold Compresses

Cold compresses should be your first course of treatment. Applying cold as soon as you can and a few times a day after sunburn is helpful. This remedy is a simple way to relieve sunburn on the lips – or anywhere else that is sunburned.

The easiest cold compress method is getting a small washcloth wet with cold water and placing it on your lips for 15 minutes several times each day.

  • Over-the-Counter (OTC) Medicines

If you take OTC medications like ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil), aspirin or acetaminophen (Tylenol), this helps in relieving the pain of sunburned lips. Do not give aspirin to children under the age of 16 years, as it may trigger Reye’s syndrome, which is fatal.

  • Aloe Vera

Sunburn treatment methods should always include aloe Vera, for lips and skin, as well. It helps in the reduction of inflammation, and in easing the pain that results when the sun damages your skin. If you have sunburned lips, apply an unscented OTC aloe Vera gel to help. You may also use fresh juice from a healthy aloe Vera plant.

  • 1% Hydrocortisone Cream

Applying this cream two or three times each day will be helpful in easing pain. However, do not ingest any of the cream. Only apply it to the outer edges of your lips.

  • Moisturize your Lips

Moisturizing your lips will help your sunburned lips to heal more quickly. Use Aquaphor or another good moisturizing cream. Do not use Vaseline or other petroleum jelly products, since they trap the heat inside and may worsen your condition. In addition, do not use products that contain lidocaine.

Extra tips for treating and healing sunburned lips more quickly

  • Drink plenty of water to keep your body well-hydrated.
  • Do not pick at or lick your lips as they are healing. This will slow recovery.
  • Avoid any further sun exposure as your sunburn heals by using lip sunscreen products of at least SPF 15. Apply these products even after your lips heal, to prevent further sunburn episodes.

What should you put on your Sunburned Lips?

This concern is often voiced in forums online. The best remedy is keeping your lips well-moisturized and soothing the pain and inflammation with an anti-inflammatory medicine like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. You may also apply 1% hydrocortisone cream to the outer edges of the lips only, and apply cold compresses, as mentioned.

Even if your grandmother told you to use Vaseline or other brands of petroleum jelly, that’s a bad idea. It won’t allow the heat to escape your sunburned lips and it can make them hurt even more.

Soothing Sunburned Lips

As we mentioned above, soothing your lips can mean something as simple as keeping them well-moisturized and applying aloe Vera gel. OTC pain relievers and hydrocortisone cream (do not ingest) are also helpful.