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Skin Cancer Protection: Don’t Forget Your Lips!

Posted on September 13th, 2014

Lips, Skin CancerWe know that our patients are smart and you all lather yourself and your loved ones in sunscreen anytime you go outside in the Houston sun. You wear your sunglasses, and maybe even a wide-brimmed hat. But do you protect your lips?

Your lips are very sensitive parts of your skin, and you can get skin cancer there just like any other exposed part of your body. At Dassani Dentistry, we want to make sure everyone is taking proper care of their health and has all the knowledge they need to do so. As always, call us if you have any questions or concerns!

Why You Should Protect Your Lips

The outer layer of your lips is much thinner than that of the rest of your skin. They also have almost no melanin, the pigment in skin that naturally helps screen out the harmful rays of the sun. This is why lips rarely tan, but easily burn.

Lips get a lot of sun exposure, being on your face and all, and are rarely covered. Prolonged sun damage on and around your lips leads to those fine lines and wrinkles that no one wants, as well as some more serious conditions.

The Big Deal with Sun Damage

An estimated 3,500 new cases of skin cancer on the lips are diagnosed every year and many others develop actinic cheilitis, also known as farmer’s lip or sailor’s lip. This condition forms after chronic sun exposure and is characterized by persistent dryness and cracking, leading to precancerous lesions and extensive wrinkling.

You May Actually Be Hurting Your Lips

When we are out in the Houston sun, our lips naturally get dry and many people unconsciously lick them to add some moisture back. Some dermatologists feel that the saliva may act like a lens and intensify the sun exposure.

The same holds true for all of those shiny lip glosses. They do not help! In fact, they actually increase your cancer risk, by allowing more UV rays to penetrate the skin (like when people used to tan with baby oil). Unless your lip gloss has an SPF, it is probably harming you rather than helping.

What to Do

The best way to protect your lips is to use lip care products containing sunscreen. You should always apply 30 minutes before going into the sun, and reapply often while you are exposed. If you are headed for the pool or the beach, make sure to find a product that is water-repellant and to reapply as soon as you get out of the water.

Dr. Meghna Dassani wants to make sure that all of his Houston area patients are protected from the sun and from any type of cancer. If you have questions about any of this information, don’t be afraid to call us today!

Sources

http://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/slideshow-sun-damaged-skin

http://www.blistex.com/lip-tips/common-lip-problems/sun-damage

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24190829/

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About Meghna Dassani, DMD

Dr. Meghna Dassani received her initial dental training from the University of Mumbai, India, where she graduated in 1996 as Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS). After working as an associate for one year, she established her own practice in Mumbai, India. She successfully operated this practice for six years prior to moving to the US. When Dr. Meghna Dassani is not in the office she is at home being a mommy to her 2 beautiful girls and enjoying time relaxing with her husband. Since opening her own practice in 2011 she doesn’t have a lot of free time but when the time allows she enjoys traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, visiting with friends and family and of course SHOPPING with a Starbucks in her hand!

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