Actinic Cheilitis.

Chronically Sun-damaged lips that may lead to Squamous Cell Cancer.

What is Cheilitis?

Cheilitis means “inflammation of the lips” – or chapped lips – and is caused by two environmental opposites:

  • UV Light – when it’s called actinic cheilitis.
  • Cold & Windy weather.

It’s usually pretty obvious which is the cause! Lip Licking will also bring on cheilitis.

Cheilits caused by UV light is called Actinic Cheilitis, and the lip-equivalent of Sun spots.

Actinic Cheilitis is really common in builders, FIFOs, surfers and boaties.

Actinic Cheilitis is important because the condition is precancerous and may, like sun spots, develop into skin cancers called IEC & SCC.

Actinic cheilitis should therefore be taken seriously. It’s a bit of a wake up call. The chances are that you’ve not been using lip sun block regularly enough. You’ll need a full skin check.

Typical symptoms are:

  • Dry, Cracking lips
  • Scaling in some areas

What does Actinic Cheilitis look like?

The condition looks very similar to chapped lips caused by the cold.

The lower lip is affected more than the upper lip. The condition most commonly affects the outer edge of the lips – the Vermillion border.

The appearances include:

  • The outer border between the lip and the skin may be less well defined.
  • Crusting & Cracking
  • Swelling & Inflammation
  • The skin may be thinner (see photo)

In addition there may be:

  • White areas called leukoplakia (see photo)
  • areas of ulceration