Sun blisters on lips is a common complaint for most people, especially in summer. Prolonged and constant exposure to harmful sun rays can cause sunburn which in turns leads to the formation of the fluid-filled blisters.
The damage done on your lips will vary from mild to moderate depending on the type of skin and the amount of time exposed to the harmful rays. People with a fair skin are at higher risk of developing the blisters than those with a dark skin.
In this article we provide answers to the following questions:
- Can you get a sunburn on lips?
- Are sun blisters and cold sores the same?
- How do you get rid of sun poisoning on your lips?
- How long does it take a cold sore to develop after exposure?
What causes sun blisters on lips?
Sun blisters on lips and other parts of the body are caused by prolonged and constant exposure to harmful UV rays from the sun. Though common in those with a fair skin, the blisters can also develop in those with dark skin who spent a lot of time outdoors.
The trigger factor that increases the risk of developing the blister include the following:
- Being dehydrated
- Not applying lip balm or sunscreen and
- Sunburn on lips to cause the blisters
Apart from applying a lip balm and high SPF sunscreen on lips, you can also protect against sunburn and blisters by avoiding sun exposure especially during hours when the sun shines the most.
Your lips especially the lower lips are vulnerable to sunburn, according to health line, this causes pain and increases your chances of developing cancer. They add that the lower lip is 12 times more likely to develop cancer than the upper lips.
Sun poisoning blisters
Sun poisoning is defined as an extreme case of sunburn. Sun poisoning blisters occur when UV rays from the sun inflame your skin. In most cases, the symptom will begin similar to those of a normal sunburn. In some people, it may go on unnoticed leading to severe symptoms and dangerous situation.
The strength of UV radiation from the sun is determined a number of things including cloud cover, closeness to the equator, and altitude. According to the WHO, small doses of UV rays can be helpful to your body, however, too much of it lead to premature aging and skin cancer.
Overexposure to UV radiation can damage your immune system. This can slow down its infection-fighting response. This is the reason when excess exposure to the sun can also trigger the development of cold sores.
Sun blisters vs cold sores
Though they might appear the same, sun blisters are different from cold sores (also called fever blisters). While sun blisters are caused by damage to the skin by UV radiation from the sun, cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1.
According to the American Dental Association, people often catch this virus in childhood and in early adult life. The first outbreak may cause fever and mouth ulcers, with most people going on to develop cold sores in later life.
Just like sun blister, a number of health conditions can cause the blisters to recur, this includes prolonged and constant exposure to the sun.
Cold sores will often appear as small, painful, and fluid-filled blister not only on the lips but also on the nostrils. This is according to the American Dental Association. These blisters will usually dry to form a yellow crust that heals within a week or two.
Cold sores are highly contagious, the blisters do not have to be present for the virus to be transmitted from one person to the other. According to Colgate World of care, for a majority of infected children, the virus will remain inactive with only a few developing cold sore outbreak as adults.
Pictures of sun blisters on lips
The appearance of the sun blister on lips may vary from person to person depending on how severe the damage was or the complexion of your skin. Here is how the blisters appear on lips, nose and on the face.
Sunburn blister on face
here is how the blisters appear on the face:
Sun blisters on lips
on lips, the sun blisters will appear as follow:
Sun blisters on nose
Symptoms of sunburned lips
The severity of the symptoms accompanying sunburned lips will vary from one person to the other. This may depend on skin complexion and how long one was exposed to the harmful rays. In most cases, one is likely to experience the following symptoms:
- Your lips may bleed, crack or split
- Both the upper and lower lips may become dry and sensitive to touch
- Yellow or red scabs after some time
- Mild to severe itching
- A feeling of burning sensation
- Swelling or inflammation of the lips
- Your lips may start to peel
- The lips become red, pinkish when swollen
- The lips may become painful some hours after a sunburn
- Some people may notice an itchy, painful rash on face, and around mouth
How long do sun blisters last?
For most people, how long the blisters takes to heal will depend on how severe the damage was. According to the National Health Service, mild to moderate sunburned blister will take not more than a week to fully heal.
For severe cases, the blisters may take more than a week to heal. Without treatment, the blisters may take longer to subside after which the skin will then start to heal. You need to improve your oral hygiene and avoid touching or draining the lips during the healing process.
Do not apply lipstick or heavy lip balm that might prolong the healing process of the blisters. Only start applying such products after both the lips have healed completely.
You can improve the condition by doing the following
- Avoid further exposure, this will give the skin enough time to rejuvenate and heal properly
- Keep your lips dry and clean
- Do not drain or pop the blisters
- Avoid wearing lipsticks or lip balm, they contain petroleum products that keep your lips moist and prolong the healing of the blisters
- To clean the blisters, we recommend you use antiseptic wipes, this will ensure no harmful products are present in the area
- Avoid alcohol or iodine products on the lips as they could cause pain and a lot of discomforts
- You can use an ice compress to relieve the pain but avoid applying the ice directly on the lips for long
How to treat sun blisters
Mild to moderate case of sunburned blisters on lips may be left to heal on their own without treatment. For severe cases, to stop the pain and prevent complications, we recommend you have your healthcare provider look at them. He or she is most likely to recommend any of the following treatment options:
a) Anti-inflammatory creams such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen to relieve the pain and reduce the inflammation. These creams can also soothe the burning sensation and get rid of the discomfort
b) For severe sunburn, corticosteroid cream applied directly on the lips may be recommended. This option should not be used for long. Prolonged use of corticosteroid cream may lead to unwanted side-effects
c) When the sun blisters are accompanied by cold sores, antihistamines may be used to relieve the inflammation
d) When the blisters are bleeding, cracked or peeling, a topical antibiotic may use to reduce the risk of picking a bacterial infection which could prolong the healing of the blisters on lips.
e) Hydrocortisone 1% cream can also be used for sunburned lips. This option should only be used when prescribed by a professional healthcare provider. Some will recommend applying it on the outer edges of the lips while other will recommend avoiding it altogether. Do not ingest the cream
f) You can supplement the above treatment by applying a moisturizer on the irritated lips. This can help heal and soothe the blisters. You can use beeswax, or castor seed oil, coconut oil or almond oil.
When treating sunburn blisters, you will need to prevent the following:
- Covering your lips to avoid irritation
- Draining, popping or touching the blisters with dirty hands
- Using petroleum or alcohol-based products, they can cause more damage to the lips
- Warm baths and hot compress
- Alcoholic or acidic drinks and spicy foods
How to get rid of sun blisters on lips
Mils case of sunburn and sun blisters on lips can be treated at home with natural remedies. To get rid of the blisters on lips and other parts of the face or your body we recommend you try the following remedies. See you doctor is the symptoms fails to go away or seems to worsen:
1. A cold compress
A gently cold compress on the blisters on lips can offer significant relief from the pain, itching, and inflammation of the lips.
All you need to do is soak a towel in cold water, squeeze the excess water and hold the towel on the affected lip. Repeat this to get soothe the itching, pain, swelling and the feeling of burning sensation.
When using ice cubes, do not apply it directly on your skin, also do not leave the cubes on your lips for long. You can choose to alternate between warm and cold compress.
2. Apple cider vinegar
You can also get rid of sun blisters on lips using both white and vinegar and apple cider vinegar.
- Dilute some vinegar with cold water
- Dip a clean cotton towel in the solution, squeeze excess liquid out and apply a gently compress on the sunburned lips
- An alternative would be to spray vinegar directly on the lips
3. Fresh Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe Vera gel is one of the most effective natural remedies to use not only on the skin but also inside the body. The remedy is said to have enzymes and vitamin that can improve your skin’s health. It also has a cooling and anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe the itching and relieve the inflammation.
- Squeeze the gel from Aloe plant
- Gently apply it directly on the sunburned lips and leave it on for some minutes
- You can choose the rinse it off before applying a fresh layer or just apply a fresh layer
- You can also add some witch hazel to speed up the healing process
4. Manuka honey
Raw honey is said to be a great soothing agent. It is rich in anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that can help prevent infection from peeling, cracked or popped blisters on lips. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of raw Manuka honey makes this remedy a great natural healer.
- Dab a small amount of Manuka honey on sunburned lips
- Leave it on for some minutes
- Do not lick the honey from your lips, this will leave your lips dry and worsen the symptoms
5. Coconut oil
You can also increase the healing process of sunburned lips and sun blister on lips by applying coconut oil. The oil is said to be a great skin moisturizer, the anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of the oil also speeds up the healing of bleeding and peeling blisters on lips
6. Fresh cucumber
Cucumber is said to have medicinal and soothing properties that can accelerate a healing wound. For that reason, applying fresh cucumber slices of sunburned lips can be a great and effective way to get rid of the sun blisters.
Cucumber has a high moisture content, cold slices of cucumber have a soothing effect on skin itching and irritation and can also relieve swelling and inflammation on sunburned lips. You need to:
- Cut a fresh cucumber into small slices and put it in the refrigerator for some minutes
- Hold a cold slice on the affected parts of your lips until it becomes warm
- Throw it away and pick another cold slice
- Repeat this at least three times
How to prevent sun blisters
Though it can be hard to completely prevent against sunburn and sun blisters, there are some things you could do to reduce or minimize the risk of developing the blisters. To do that, we recommend you do the following:
- Maintain a proper diet, people with weak or compromised immune system are likely to be affected by exposure to harmful rays. They are likely to not only develop sun blisters but also cold sores.
- In cases of cold sore, we recommend you avoid foods rich in arginine, it is said to increase the reproduction of herpes virus in the body
- Avoid prolonged or constant exposure to the sun, especially when the sun is intense
- If you have to go away, make sure to apply a sunscreen on your face and on lips, you can also use a lip balm with high SFP
- You can also wear a hat with large brim to protect your lips from direct contact
- Make sure you drink plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated by replenishing lost fluids through sweating
- Effective remedies to get rid of sun blisters on lips: http://www.top10homeremedies.com/how-to/how-to-get-rid-of-sunburn-blisters.html
- Sun and heat blisters on lips: http://www.tandurust.com/health-faq/sun-and-heat-blisters-on-lips.html
- Best treatment for sunburned lips: https://www.healthline.com/health/sunburned-lips#symptoms2
- How to get rid of chapped lips: https://treatpanel.com/chapped-lips-cause-heal-get-rid/
- How to heal sunburned lips with blisters fast: https://www.treatcurefast.com/lips/lip-sunburn/sunburned-lips-blisters-swollen-rash-symptoms-heal-fast/