Lip Care Isn’t Just for Kissability

When we think about skin cancer, we don’t often jump to areas like the eyelids, eyes, or lips. However, these are visible parts of the skin that aren’t always given the care and protection they need when we go out into the sun. Statistics indicate that lip cancer accounts for 0.6 percent of all cancers diagnosed in a given year. Most begin in the squamous cells. It isn’t that we need to understand which cells may be involved in lip cancer so much as that we need to know how to protect ourselves. Patient education is everything when it comes to cancer prevention. This includes skin cancer of the lips.

Here, we discuss a few steps that can keep the lips healthy and, yes, kissable. 

  • Of course, it makes sense that the lips need moisture to keep them from getting chapped and dry. One way to support adequate moisture is to avoid licking them. Licking the lips is counterproductive; it saps moisture from this area that has no oil glands to replenish itself. Another way to support adequate moisture is to make sure the body does not become hydrated. Those 64 ounces of water a day hold immense value!
  • Lip exfoliation must be done gently. This skin is delicate and should be treated as such. Exfoliation can be achieved with a mild sugar scrub (just mix some sugar with softened coconut oil and rub gently, then rinse with water). Exfoliation can also be achieved by rubbing the lips with a wet washcloth. The purpose of this habit is to remove dead and damaged skin cells that don’t slough off naturally.
  • Moisturize and protect. Lip balm isn’t just for holding in moisture, it is also a necessary barrier against UV light. The lips get a lot of sun exposure and are not an area we apply sunscreen the way we do with other parts of the face and body. Like other areas, we should apply SPF 15 or higher sunscreen to the lips and reapply it every few hours when outdoors.

Dermatologists are the resource that patients need to stay informed about skin cancer prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. The American Society for Mohs Surgery is the resource that dermatologists trust to further their education and clinical skills in Mohs micrographic surgery. If you are a dermatologist interested in membership or upcoming courses, call (800) 616-2767. If you are a patient looking for a fellowship-trained Mohs surgeon, click here.

Posted in: Skin Care

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American Society for Mohs Surgery
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