If you are a regular lip balm or lip gloss user you should perhaps bear in mind that there is a good chance your risk of developing skin cancer is greater, according to researcher, Dr. Christine Brown, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas. The balms/glosses actually attract the ultraviolet rays.

Not only do we have to protect our skin from the sun, says Dr. Brown, but also our lips. In fact, one quarter of all Americans do not appear to use any form of lip protection. The skin on your lips is very thin and is more prone to ageing from sun damage, compared to the skin in the rest of your body.

Shiny lip balms/glosses have the opposite effect of sun blocks – they attract the rays to the lips. Lip gloss/balm should only be applied after a layer of sun protection has been put on the lips first – the sun protection should be under the shiny lip gloss/balm. If you are going to be exposed to sunlight for over 20 minutes you should apply a sun block with an SPF of 30 beforehand, says Dr. Brown.

Dr. Brown explained that skin cancer is potentially much more aggressive when it is on the lower lip – there is a higher likelihood that it will metastasize to surrounding lymph nodes.

Signs of potential lip and oral cavity cancer-

— A sore that does not heal on the lip or in the mouth
— Lump/thickening on the lips/gums, or in the mouth
— A patch on the tonsils, lining of the mouth, or gums – red or white in color
— Numbness in the lip or mouth
— Pain in the lip or mouth
— Unexplained (regular) bleeding in the lip or mouth
— Change in the person’s voice
— Loose teeth
— Dentures that no longer fit well
— Swelling of the jaw
— Difficulty swallowing
— Difficulty moving the tongue and/or jaw
— Feeling that something is caught in the throat, or sore throat

Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas
Dr. Christine Brown

Written by – Christian Nordqvist