Actinic cheilitis, also known as solar cheilitis, is a premalignant condition of the lip caused by chronic sun exposure. It has a higher risk of progression to skin cancer than actinic keratosis, which is the premalignant solar damage to the skin. Therefore, once actinic cheilitis is diagnosed, it is important to maintain strict sun protection, including sun avoidance, daily use of lip products with sunscreen, and wearing hats, as well as smoking and chewing tobacco cessation.
Actinic cheilitis occurs more commonly in light-skin individuals who are outdoor workers or spend lots of time under the sun, especially in geographic areas of high UV radiation like southwest Florida. It occurs more frequently in men than women.
This disorder is usually diagnosed clinically. Actinic cheilitis presents as a persistent area of dryness and peeling on the lower lip. More advanced lesions that present with ulceration, crusting, bleeding, swelling, or changes on the texture of the lip, may require biopsy to confirm if progression from actinic cheilitis to a squamous cell carcinoma has occurred.
Treatments for actinic cheilitis include topical medications, cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen, and photodynamic therapy with blue light. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above, please call Florida Skin Center for a consultation, and we will be happy to assess your lips, and if diagnosed with actinic cheilitis, find the most appropriate personalized treatment for your case.