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Lips and Sun Damage

By David F. Murchison, DDS, MMS, Clinical Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas; Clinical Professor, Texas A & M University Baylor College of Dentistry

Sun damage may make the lips, especially the lower lip, hard and dry. Long-term sun exposure may cause precancerous growths called actinic keratoses. Older people and people with light skin who have had extensive exposure to the sun are most susceptible. Red speckles or a white filmy look signal damage that increases the chance of subsequent cancer. This type of damage can be minimized by covering the lips with a lip balm containing sunscreen or by shielding the face from the sun's harmful rays with a wide-brimmed hat.