We all get sunburns, but we don’t all know what they imply. Whether we’re talking about areas that are most often exposed to the sun (arms, face, neck) or more sensitive areas (the skin around the eyes, the lips or the back), we’re familiar with what sunburns involve: redness, pain and sometimes even blisters. But what’s going on under the inflamed skin that seems to be so mad at us for exposing it to the sun?
Both UVA and UVB rays damage our skin, whether we can notice it on the spot or we suffer the consequences later in life. Here, I’m talking about premature aging, skin cancers and even melanoma. Even if the damage is not visible one hour after Sun exposure, that doesn’t mean we’re not endangering our skin with each day spent at the beach. Sunburns are easy to identify. According to their severity, they can cause anything from a mild discomfort to severe pain that can keep you up all night. Less common symptoms include fever, headaches, and sometimes nausea. These are almost always accompanied by itchy, inflamed and peeling skin.
When we expose our bodies to the Sun, they react by recognizing the danger and trigger a few defense mechanisms. These are meant to undo the damage done by the UV rays and boost the production of melanin in order to keep future injures at bay. This is how and why we get tanned. Tanning is, in fact, our bodies’ first barrier against developing fatal cancers. Melanin is quick to act and proceeds to transform the UV-photons into inoffensive heat, avoiding the production of free radicals.
A common misconception floating around regarding sunburns is that only those who spend hours in the sun will get burned. But that’s not true. It takes as little as 15 minutes of sun exposure to get a sunburn, and the symptoms are bound to show up even 6 hours later. The highest peak of the discomfort, pain and redness is usually experienced up to 48 hours after sun exposure. This period of time is followed by peeling skin, which can take anywhere from a couple of days to a whole week, depending on your skin type and how long you were exposed to the sun. Itching and redness may stick around for up to several weeks.
Most of us don’t seek a doctor’s advice when it comes to sunburns. It’s not always necessary to see an expert since our body can heal itself and sunburns simply follow their own course. However, more severe burns should be examined by a doctor, especially if they are accompanied by less common signs and symptoms, such as dizziness, nausea or fatigue.
If you only applied sunscreen to your skin, but you neglected your lips, you’ll be surprised to find out they can get burned as well. Sunburned lips symptoms include swelling and reddening. Less frequent signs include, but are not limited to, tender, chapped or warm lips. Bleeding is not excluded, especially if the lips are severely cracked and the skin starts peeling off. A severe lip sunburn can also be accompanied by small blisters filled with fluid. These can make an appearance merely a few hours after sun exposure or after a few days. If you want to avoid over the counter medicine and you’re wondering how to treat sunburned lips at home, read our suggestions, which will help you alleviate discomfort and put you on your path to a speedy recovery.
1. Cold compresses
This is an obvious suggestion, yet it shouldn’t be underestimated. Affected sunburned areas should be cooled down as soon as possible. This reduces the pain and calms down the inflammation. Choose a small, clean towel and soak it in ice water. Squeeze out the water and place the towel on your lips, keeping it there until it starts warming up. Repeat the same steps until the pain decreases and the swollen lips give in.
The best natural treatment for sunburned lips, aloe vera is gentle and very hydrating. It accelerates the healing process and reduces pain. If you own an aloe vera plant, it’s not complicated to use this remedy for your sunburned lips. All you have to do is slice a leaf down the middle and gather all the gel. You can keep the gel in the freezer for a few minutes if you want it to have a cooling effect, or you can apply it straight away with your ring finger (the most delicate of the five).
It’s essential to keep hydrated at all times after getting a sunburn. Even if you don’t usually follow the 8 glasses of water per day rule, you should try to constantly sip on liquids after you get a sunburn. The objective here is to help your body heal the wounds both from the outside (hydration from the aloe vera) and from within (hydration from water or green tea).
While this does not really fall under the home remedy category, it’s a vital thing to keep in mind. Frail, sunburned skin must be kept away from UV rays. If there’s no way to avoid exposing your lips to the Sun, wear a wide-brimmed hat that will protect your face and keep it away from the heat. Sun exposure will slow down the recovery of any existing sun burns and even increase their severity.
This might not be an appealing image, but taking an oatmeal bath will help decrease inflammation and soothe aching blisters. Use a piece of muslin cloth to boil one cup of oatmeal for a few minutes. After this DIY sponge cools down, you can use it to wash any affected areas, before applying a cream gel or aloe vera.
There’s a good reason why you should eat as many tomatoes during summer months as possible: lycopene. This magical ingredient can fight off the harmful UV rays and keep us protected against sunburns. But tomatoes are also efficient if we stayed in the Sun for too long. Combining a fourth of a cup tomato juice with half a cup buttermilk creates a soothing mixture. Apply it on your sunburn lips and leave it for 30 minutes before gently washing it with cold water.
This versatile herb doesn’t only have a soothing smell, it also alleviates sunburns. There are two ways to employ chamomile in the fight against sunburned lips. The first method involves soaking a few tea bags in water and keeping them in the freezer a few minutes before applying them on the blisters. The second suggestion is to combine 3-4 chamomile oil drops with almond oil and apply the concoction on the damaged area.
8. Vitamin E
Among its sundry benefits, Vitamin E is also excellent for sunburns. Used in its pure form, it can be massaged into the lips before going to bed, applying a few extra drops onto the lips. The rich oil will penetrate the skin layers and, preventing scarring and regenerating the cells.
9. Cucumber slices
The best allies against irritation and pain, cucumber slices will help your lips feel better in minutes. Keep them in the fridge for 15 minutes prior to use and apply them on the affected area for 10 minutes, turning them every now and then if they get too warm. This remedy also fights the dark spots on the lips created by sunburns and assuages the aching blisters.
Potatoes are great for sunburns because they decrease pain and help with the speedy recovery. Chop up a potato and turn it into a thick paste by using a powerful blender. Gently apply the resulted paste to your sunburned lips and leave it on until it dries. Rinse it away with a lot of cold water and repeat the treatment the second day until you start seeing an improvement.
This might sound as an unusual suggestion, and many will be baffled that we can actually use lettuce leaves for something else than making salads. In fact, lettuce leaves have powerful properties that can help decrease inflammation and help with the aching sunburn blisters on lips. Don’t worry if you don’t like how it tastes, you won’t have to eat it. Instead, you have to boil a few leaves for around 10 minutes and use the cold concoction to wash your blisters every few hours throughout the day. The cold liquid will combat the swollen lips and the anti-inflammatory ingredients will take care of the blisters.
The antiseptic properties of turmeric will come in handy when you’re dealing with painful sunburned lips. This spice will alleviate pain and decrease inflammation. Turmeric can be applied to the lips as a paste, combining two tablespoons of the powder with enough water to reach a fluid consistency. Adding yogurt to the mixture will make it even more hydrating and soothing. You can leave the treatment on your lips for up to one hour before washing it with cold water. This DIY remedy can be repeated daily until the blisters go away.
13. Coconut oil
Known for its versatility, it will come as no surprise that coconut oil is also suitable for sunburned lips. The best ally against dehydrated and chapped lips, coconut oil is incredibly easy to apply on your lips. Choose a cold-pressed, organic oil and massage it into your lips with your fingertips. This will cure dryness and soothe blisters, accelerating the healing process.