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Keeping your lips healthy is important year-round. We often take our lips for granted even though they play a crucial role in our speech and for identifying different types of food.
Lip cancer is a malignant tumor, or neoplasm, that originates in the surface layer cells in the upper or lower lip. Nine out of ten cases of lip cancer are diagnosed in people over age 45. As the cells in our lips get older, they lose some of its ability to repair itself. This breakdown in the repair system combined with damaging UV rays from sunlight allows for the uncontrolled growth of cells.
If a part of the lip is affected by cancer and must be removed by surgery, there will be significant changes to one’s eating ability and speech function. Men are at a greater risk for lip cancer than women, sometimes two to three times more likely. Also, fair-skinned people are more likely to develop lip cancer than those with dark skin.
Here are some tips for keeping your lips healthy, soft, and sun safe.
Use Lip Balm to Moisturize and Protect
Since your lips are exposed to the sun every day, they are highly susceptible to disfiguring and to developing skin cancer. Use lip balm or lipstick with a SPF 15 or higher. Keep in mind that your lower lip receives the most direct sunlight.
Much like sunscreen use recommendations, remember to reapply lip protection every two hours. Reapply more often if you have been eating or drinking.
Unlike the rest of your skin, lips do not contain oil glands and therefore tend to dry out and become chapped easily. Drink lots of water to hydrate your lips and avoiding licking them, which actually saps moisture.