Sunburned Lips Blisters, Swollen, Treatment, Soothing and Pictures

You headed out in the sun and now have sunburned lips? Then this article is for you. You will not only learn what symptoms for sunburn on the lips are but also get a highlight of treatment options available. You will also delight in the pictures listed on the page to inspire your thoughts.

Sunburned Lips  or  Sunburn on Lips

If you have been a frequent reader of our website, you probably by now know how important it is to slather on sunscreen when going out into the sun. It is critical in not only preventing skin cancer but also protecting you from the signs of aging – such as wrinkling, spots etc – commonly attributed to sun damage.

Sunburned Lips Blisters, Swollen, Treatment, Soothing and Pictures d
Sunburned Lips Blisters

What you probably didn’t know is that your lips can as well get sunburnt if not protected with a good SPF, and chances are that you are one of the people not “…good at protecting their lips” as Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatologist based in NYC puts it, and have sunburned lips to show for it.

Sunburned Lips Symptoms

Reddening and swelling of the lips are the most obvious symptoms of sunburned lips. The lips may also feel dry, warm, sore, and tender to touch. They often start to crack and sometimes bleed, and is common for them to peel off, usually a few days after exposure to the damaging effect of the UV rays of the sun.

Blisters (tiny fluid-filled swellings) may also be present in more severe cases of sunburn. Other sunburn symptoms associated with more severe cases are fever, fatigue and nausea.

Sunburned Lips Pictures

There is that cliché that goes: A picture is worth a thousand words. We are true believers in it in as far as the value of pictures is concerned. We have on that note included a couple photos and images to inspire your imagination:

Sunburned Lips picture
Sunburned Lips picture

Sunburned Lips Blisters, Swollen, Treatment, Soothing and Pictures
Sunburned Lips Blisters that are Swollen

Sunburned Lips Blister or Sunburn Blisters on Lips

Some patients may also experience sunburn blisters on lips which are typically a sign of second degree sunburn (extending beyond the upper layer of the skin (epidermis). The fluid in the sunburn lips blisters usually emanates from the damaged skin cells in the lower layers of the skin.

The blisters may form in just a few hours of exposure to excessive sunlight or a few days down the line.

Swollen Sunburned Lips or Sunburnt Lips Swollen

Swelling is one of the common symptoms lips that have been sunburned. Swollen sunburned lips often respond well to cold compresses, moisturizing, and hydrocortisone 1% creams (discussed below).

If the sunburnt lips however don’t improve – say they are still swollen 7-10 days after exposure to excessive sun – you should consider seeking the attention of a dermatologist. You could be dealing with a more serious problem.

According to Brian P. Maloney, MD, a Facial Plastic Surgeon in Atlanta, it is also critical that you seek the attention of a medical professional urgently if the tongue is as well swollen.

How to Treat Sunburned Lips – What to Do for or How to Heal

If you forgot to protect your lips with sunscreen only to end up with sunburnt lips that make laughing, eating, and kissing a chore and are now wondering how to treat sunburned lips, here are various options that you may want to consider:

Cold compress

Your first course of action should be to apply a cold compress as soon as possible and every now and then. This is a simple remedy that is nevertheless so effective in relieving sunburn (or other sunburned areas of the body for that matter).

The easiest way to do that is to wet a small wash cloth in cold water and then place it on the lips for 15 minutes or so a few times a day.

Aloe vera

You can’t – in my opinion – give ways on how to treat sunburned lips (or any other type of sunburn) without mentioning aloe vera which has strong anti-inflammatory properties which helps to not only reduce the inflammation, but also the pain resulting from sun damage to the skin.

For lips that have been sunburned, the Livestrong.com website recommends applying an unscented over-the-counter aloe vera gel product or fresh juice from an aloe vera plant.

Over-the-counter medicines

Taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medication such as aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) usually helps to relieve you of the pain that is typical to lips that have been sunburned. Aspirin should however not be given to children aged below 16 years as it can trigger a fatal condition called Reye’s syndrome.

Moisturize the lips

Moisturizing the lips also helps to heal sunburned lips faster. This is as simple as applying a good moisturizing cream like Aquaphor. Applying of Vaseline or any other petroleum jelly is however generally advised against as it can trap in heat and worsen the condition. Lidocaine-containing products are also not recommended.

Hydrocortisone 1% cream

Dr. Joshua Zeichner also suggests applying hydrocortisone 1% cream 2-3 times a day. He however cautions against ingesting the cream and recommends applying the cream to the outer edges of the lips only.

Extra tips to treat (heal) sunburned lips faster

  • Keep your body hydrated by drinking lots of water
  • Avoid further exposure to sun as the sunburn heals by applying lip products (e.g. lip balm or lip gloss) that feature sunscreen of at least SPF 15. Continue applying sunscreen-containing products even after you have healed from the sunburn to prevent future damages.
  • Refrain from licking or picking at your lips as they heal to ensure quicker healing.

What to Put On Sunburned Lips

This is a common concern in online forums. Well, your best bet would be to keep the lips moisturized and to soothe the inflammation and pain using anti-inflammatory medication (such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen) and hydrocortisone cream (applying it only to the outer edges). Cold compresses are also helpful.

But regardless of what your grandma said, using petroleum jelly (e.g. Vaseline) is a bad idea as this can trap in heat and make the sunburn on the lips worse.

How to Soothe Sunburned Lips

As we have already mentioned, soothing sunburned lips is as easy as applying some aloe vera gel and keeping them moisturized. Taking over the counter pain relievers and applying a hydrocortisone 1% cream (carefully to avoid ingesting it) can also help.

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49 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this article.
    My lips are in bad shape. 3 days in the sun. I had a hat on but didn’t know the brim was not shading my lips Now I think I can get relief from the advice.
    Thanks again,
    E P Miller

  2. Second degree burns causing blisters after four 9 hour days in the blistering heat with no cloud coverage. I was wearing a hard hat, but I was completely unaware that the Sun was scorching my lips. Blisters showed up on the forth day and when I got home I put on some aloe. It’s as if the swelling instantly (and I mean instant relief) started to diminish. My lips don’t even look swollen now. Oh what a relief it is.

    • The aloe Vera directly on your blister didn’t cause you any pain? I applied mine with a qtip and felt like my lip was being twisted, but shortly after the pain from that went away.

  3. I used SPF sports 50 sunscreen chapstick on my lips for a cheer camp. We were in the sun for 3.5 days, although I applied it constantly. Why did my lips still blow up! 🙁

    • Mine to! I knew I was going to be in the sun for long periods and in and out of the water. I had been applying sunscreen all through the day and had a special sunscreen zinc waterproof stick for my lips and I still ended up with a fat blistered bottom lip! ? Why does this keep happening to me!?

    • Lips are constantly getting wet and rubbed together, especially when you’re outside, active, and drinking water. So you need to apply protection more often.

  4. I was doing research to try to figure out what is going on with my lips. Never thought they could get sunburnt. This has educated me a lot as how to relieve the pain to how to prevent it from happening again. Thank you so much!

  5. I burnt my lip on day 1 of my holiday, 14 days later I still have 2 terribly sore ulcerated areas to my lip which is total agony! Wish I’d read this info before… Head every word! Caution!

  6. I am currently on holiday in turkey and although my lips aren’t swollen they are covered in small blisters and are so painful it’s unbarable I went to a local pharmacy who didn’t speak any English and they just gave me a lip balm thing but it’s not healing only giving me short term relief from the pain. I need help I feel like a big baby all I want to do is cry and I feel like everyone keeps staring at me 🙁

  7. This really helped me and my grandma!! Especially the aloe vera part!! Who would’a thought it could also work on lips! Thanks

  8. Had a 1 hour horse riding lesson, sat in the grass and talked for another hour, and then rode a 4 wheeler with some friends. My lips were red and puffy. This helped me a lot!

  9. Aquaphor lotion has petroleum jelly in it, therefore don’t use that to moisturize ur lips. my suggestion to people with sunburned dryed out lips it to do the cucumbers trick throughout the day and and have the slices it in a bowl of ice and just pick em up one by one and hold against ur lips for pain relief from the burn and as far as moisturizing, use Vitamin E lotion or oil. I used the fruit of the earth vitamin E skin care cream because it also had aloe vera and other things to moisturize and heal sunburned lips. Hopefully this helps you.

  10. My lips are completely swollen and feel like they’re about to explode. Also they look like they have little blazers on them and that doesn’t look attractive at al. I am not sure what to do about it, because most of the treatments above contain aloe Vera, which I do not have here in the Netherlands. My mother said it’ll be fine but I’m not exactly sure since it looks ever worse than yesterday. All I did was being outside one day.

  11. thank you so much i hope this works my lips are so dry and flaky it hurts but now i know i gonna get better im only 12 so no i know what to do before i go to the beach again

  12. My lips are in a very bad state. My lips are swollen and huge and the blisters have me in pain, I need them gone fast, someone please help me.!!!

  13. 1st time ever having sun burned lips so bad I got blisters. Blisters burst and peeled leaving me with EXTREMELY raw tender lips. What can I do? Hate feeling so wimpy but man this is painful.

  14. I was out at the waterpark all day and put on sunscreen and forgot to put anything on my lips but i also like to lick my lips and they got sunburn really bad had big blisters and everything i read this all the way to the end and this helped me so much thank you.

  15. Every year I have been on holiday it happens to me no matter what I put on my lips. I have brought the most expensive lip balms for sun protection to the cheapest and still I look like I have had several sessions of Botox. It only happens on my bottom lip and I would like to know if anyone out there knows have any ideas of what to use to prevent

      • I use complete sunblock all thru my holidays and reapply constantly. I also use alo vera lip salve and atill get sore lips. I think it’s just your bad luck. I read somewhere to take extra vitamin c few wks before hols

    • Try lysine it’s at the drug store with the vitamins. Take two every four hours or even two a day for prevention in the summer and use sunblock. No more blisters. It’s also very very good for ppl that great cold sores. Sounds silly but believe me it works.

      • Lysine works for me too! I bought it on amazon. I get a cold sore 2-3 times a year since I was 6 years old. I’ve tried everything. Lysine is a lifesaver

  16. I just got back from warped tour and my lips are in so much pain. They feel swollen, dry, and I can see little blisters forming which is also very uncomfortable. I hope these tips help cause I’ll do anything to stop the burning lol

  17. Sadly, my lips get sunburnt every year in the summer, most of the time I used aquaphor and followed tips from this website and waited it out which usually took a week or longer. Recently it happened again and I purchased a new lip balm that worked so good and healed in less than a week! Dr. Dans cortibalm has hydrocortisone 1% in it and is a anti-inflammatory lip balm. It works very well! It’s specifically for sunburnt or just really chapped lips. I suggest others to try it out. 🙂

  18. OK I forget which skin mask I used, but it was basically an aloe vera based skin mask and it has been the best thing I’ve used. I would leave it on for a while and then peel it off.
    I got cracked lips not from sunburn however, but from being too close to flames

  19. I got very sunburnt about 3 weeks ago and was put on antibiotics because my lips were that severally burnt however now if i go a day without my blistex my lips become very dry and i can feel what i think is tiny water blisters on my lips. How long does it take for sunburnt lips to completely heal?

  20. Went to Mexico 🇲🇽 Applied Banana boat spf 50 stick reapplied all day burnt my lips thick skin peeled away burned all around my lips tiny blisters formed and lips cracked Plus the corners of my mouth
    The worst burn ! Now this was Feb 17 and I’m still trying to get relief. Going to get aloe asap !! Thank you!!

  21. I am allergic to the chemicals in lip sunscreen sticks , I got lips completely covered in blisters from using a popular lip balm with sunscreen and i never went outside !
    Lips are much more sensitive than other skin so even if u can use chemical sunscreen on your body without reaction your lips may react like mine did
    Some of u are also likely suffering allergic reactions from your lip screen . Use chemical free lip sunscreens such as invisible zinc

  22. I just got off a cruise. I burnt my lips real bad. I bought Burts Bees lip balm. The pharmacy recommended it. Big NOPE! Burns on my blisters, and also cracked lips. I’ve been applying coconut oil this afternoon. Also taking Motrin, using ice packs, and just dying from the pain.

  23. I went crazy with lip plumpers, I guess one of them was too strong and literally took the skin off my lips. I hope this helps.

  24. This website says to put aquaphor on your lips but then says don’t use petroleum based products…. the number one ingredient in aquaphor is petroleum… soo uhh what????

  25. I burnt my bottom lip badly April 1st (cruel joke, huh?!) and it keeps flaring after improving for a few days. I finally received a 6-day oral steroid pack and began putting Polysporin on them. Trying not to ingest it, but 24 hours in, they are markedly better. Yes, all the SPF and other lip balms burn, including Aloe Vera. I will try to post at the end of the week with a report. (P.S. I am in my mid-50’s and have NEVER burnt my lips until this year. AND I was applying lip balm with SPF 30, or higher, as I have very dry lips and always keep them protected. Kinda curious as to why NOW they burn???!! Maybe no more Ozone layer?) Sidenote: use a straw to continually sip on cool water as this helped me tremendously; the ice packs made it more sensitive when the feeling returned.

    • I’m the same, 53 and this is the first time I’ve ever burned my lips. They are so sore and my bottom lip is really swollen, and they look blue!
      I’ve not seen anyone else mention the colour, so I’m wondering if in the only one..

  26. I too suffer. They fitst broke out in pus filled sites whicj healed after a week. I always usr ski factor50 on my lips and it usually works well .I went on a catamaran and the wind and sun caused it. I am left with sore lips but no blisters. I used aciclavir creams and tablets as I thought they were cold sores. Pharmacist gave me gel for ulcers. Didn’t work. Vaseline soothes over night. I use factor 50 lip stick all the time but I am living in Spain now and hard to keep them out of the sun when I swim every day

  27. We go to the same beach resort every summer. I get sunburned lips every year, but I also think the salt water compounds it. My bottom lip is so swollen up. Vacation not half over and I can’t get outside today. I look awful. I might get a face mask. But the tips I am reading here are really helpful. I’m using a cold compress and ice right now. Heading to pharmacy in a bit.

  28. this was so useful thank you i get sunburnt lips almost every summer and i always used vaseline and wondered why i got worse the next day but now i know

  29. I have to start back to school in a couple days.. My grandma has given petroleum jelly to put on it.. It was swollen but it isn’t anymore..It said not to use petroleum jelly because it makes it worse… I really don’t want to start a new school year at a new high school with blisters on my lip… Can anybody help me??

  30. I usually can feel when I’m getting my sun blister, but as of last year and now this year … my jaw , lower front teeth .. and gums behind teeth get so sore .. and last a few days ,I was wondering is it something that the blister causes, because it’s the soreness (like multiple toothaches ) , followed by my lip sore . I do have my front 4 bott teeth as a bridge … which I heard could be a problem , but like I said , it all happens in sync with each other . Any help would be good help ! Thank you .

    • This sounds like a cold sore caused by the herpes simplex virus rather than a sunburn.
      Lysine (sold in lip balm products) helps, but if you are feeling it inside your mouth too, you’d do better with prescription acyclovir.

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