How to Treat Sun Blisters on Lips

By: Sarah Rutland  | 

Person applying sunscreen
Don't forget to look out for your lips, too! Peter Cade/Getty Images

Once summer hits and the sun beckons, the last thing you want to do is stay inside. Unfortunately, the risks associated with sun exposure are real — and ignoring them can easily ruin a lazy summer day. For example, you may slather sunscreen on your skin regularly, but forget certain body parts. If you don't put a lip balm with sun protection factor (SPF) on your lips, you risk sunburns and blisters on the sensitive skin there.

Overexposure to the sun, especially if you're fair-skinned, can lead to sunburn. Simply put, sunburn is a type of skin damage that results from excessive exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. Sunburns can range from a mild pink, first-degree burn to more dangerous second-degree burns. When you experience one of the latter burns, your skin may blister [source: Nissl].

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These sun blisters can be small, hardly noticeable water blisters, or they may be larger, more painful blisters. Due to the natural sensitivity of your mouth, either can cause discomfort and lead to infection [source: Nissl].

While any skin damage is serious, sun blisters often can be treated at home. In fact, small blisters that remain unbroken will often clear up on their own [source: Nissl Home]. However, you may want to take other action to help the process along due to the discomfort the blisters can cause. Over-the-counter lotions and medications, as well as several helpful home remedies, are available to help you treat your sun blisters effectively.

If you have sun blisters, you may be in too much pain to whip up a home remedy. Read on to the next page to find out how to quickly relieve some of your discomfort so you can begin healing.

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Relieving Pain From Sun Blisters on Lips

Person with sun blister
You can reduce the inflammation you're feeling in sun blisters with NSAIDs.
© iStockphoto.com/BudgetStockPhoto

After a long day in the sun, you may discover you have sunburn — even if you took precautions to protect your skin. While you may see redness or a rash or feel the tenderness of your skin right away, blisters may take a bit longer to appear. Normally, blisters occur within a few hours of the burn, but they can develop days after excessive sun exposure [source: Livestrong].

Blisters can range in size based on the severity of your burn. They can also be quite painful, especially on a sensitive area like your lips. Because you're constantly using your mouth, these blisters may be even more irritating and painful when they appear on the lips. As a result, your first order of business may be soothing your discomfort instead of treating your blisters.

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Any type of burn will cause inflammation of the skin, which contributes to the pain the burn causes. Taking aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help reduce this inflammation and ease some of the discomfort that follows [source: Nissl].

Cooling gels, which often contain soothing aloe vera, corticosteroids or antihistamines, can also be applied to sunburned lips to ease pain and moisturize damaged skin [source: WebMD].

You also should try to reduce pain by avoiding further irritation of your sunburned lips and blisters. Try to limit your sun exposure until the blisters have healed, because further sun damage can lead to more pain. Keep the area dry, cool and free from any possible irritants — including contact with the blisters [source: Nissl].

Once you have eased some of the pain of your blisters, read on to find several steps you can take at home to help the healing process.

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Home Remedies for Sun Blisters on Lips

After you've taken preliminary steps to ease the pain of sunburn and the sun blisters that come with them, you can try some home remedies designed to help yourself heal. A basic sun blister should heal on its own, but you can hasten the process.

If the blisters are small and unbroken, don't try to pop them. This won't help the healing process and may lead to infection. Although you can drain larger blisters with a clean needle, you shouldn't because the skin around your lips is incredibly sensitive. Do all you can to help keep the blisters and the skin covering them intact, as this will protect the sensitive new skin underneath from infection [source: Nissl].

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Cleaning the blisters regularly and applying an antibiotic ointment, like polymixin or bacitracin, will help to prevent infection, which will help them heal properly and quickly [source: Nissl]. Because the blisters are on your lip, you won't be able to cover them with a bandage. This makes cleanliness of utmost importance; your lips will touch many potentially irritating substances throughout the day.

While these home remedies will help you with your blisters, there are other so-called remedies that you shouldn't use; they'll do more harm than good. Avoid petroleum-based products, as well as any lotions that contain benzocaine or lidocaine [source: MedlinePlus].

Sunburns and blisters on your lips are uncomfortable, but they can be treated and often go away on their own. For more information on sun blisters, how to treat them and how to avoid them, examine the links that follow.

Originally Published: Aug 20, 2009

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Sun Blisters FAQ

What do sun blisters look like?
Sun blisters can be small, barely noticeable water blisters, or they may be larger, more painful. On the lips they'll be white, fluid-filled bumps.
How long do sun blisters on lips last?
Just like sunburn anywhere else on your body, the symptoms will last about three to five days.
What does sun poisoning look like?
Sun poisoning symptoms are initially similar to a regular sunburn including a mild sunburn and an itchy red rash (it may resemble hives). However, sun poisoning also tends to bring on blistering skin, a fever, headaches, nausea, and lightheadedness.
What is the fluid inside a sunburn blister?
The fluid in a blister from a sunburn is usually serum, though it can also be lymph or plasma.
Should I go to the doctor if my sunburn blisters?
Sun blisters can usually be treated at home. However, if they start to change significantly, you may have a skin infection and should see your doctor. Watch for increased pain or swelling, redness or warmth around the blisters, pus drainage, and signs of fever or swollen lymph nodes.
Are sunburn blisters supposed to pop?
No, they aren't. Small blisters that remain unbroken will often clear up on their own. Don't pop or pick them, as you'll disrupt the barrier that is protecting the skin underneath as it heals. Popping blisters can also lead to infection.
How do you treat sun poisoning blisters?
Take a recommended amount of aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen to help with inflammation. Cooling gels, which often contain soothing aloe vera, corticosteroids, or antihistamines, can be applied to relieve some of the pain. Avoid popping or draining the blisters and clean them regularly, applying an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection and speed up healing.

Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • KidsHealth. "First Aid: Sunburn." July 2018 (7/13/2018) https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/sunburn-sheet.html?WT.ac=p-ra#catoutdoor
  • Livestrong. "Sunburn First Aid." (10/5/09) http://www.livestrong.com/injury/53-sunburn-first-aid/
  • MedlinePlus. "Sunburn." April 27, 2009 (7/13/2018) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003227.htm
  • Nissl, Jan. "Sunburn Treatment." WebMD. Dec. 28, 2007 (7/13/2018) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/sunburn-home-treatment
  • Nissl, Jan. "Sunburn: Topic Overview." WebMD. Dec. 28, 2007 (7/17/2018) http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/sunburn-topic-overview
  • WebMD. "Sunburn and Other Sun Reactions of the Skin." June 4, 2008 (7/17/2018) http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/sun-reactions