Sun Tanning Questions

What Can You Do for Swollen Sunburned Lips? (3 Home Remedies)

Written by: Anastasija

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Sunburnt lips can be painful and there are a few different symptoms that people can experience as a result. Swelling is one, and it’s not the most attractive or practical. If you are looking for some ways to reduce the swelling caused by sunburn on your lips, here’s how!

How do lips get swollen when sunburnt?

Firstly, knowing the exact cause of your problem can be useful for preventing the same thing from occurring again in the future, and understanding how your lips get swollen from sunburn can be valuable. Remember, a sunburn doesn’t always cause swollen lips, but you’ll most likely realise whether or not they are, as that depends on whether or not you’ve been in the Sun.

sun burtn lips by Anastasija Thirsty for tan

Firstly, the process of sunburn to your lips happens in the same way it does to the rest of the skin, such as that on the face and body, as the lips are made from skin cells too, so they act in a very similar way. However, one thing worth noting is that the majority of the skin on the body can be up to 16 layers of cells thick, and the lips are only between 3-5, so they are much more vulnerable to sunburn.

When the UV light emitted by the Sun comes into contact with the lips, it penetrates the skin cells. However, your lips do not contain melanocytes (the small structures which produce melanin beneath your skin’s surface) like most of your body does, so your body has no natural defence, causing sunburn to happen very quickly.

The UVB rays are the ones responsible for your sunburn, and they cause cell DNA damage when they penetrate the skin, which is what leads to sunburn, and the various dreaded effects it comes with. Because this damage essentially mutates the cells, as it damages the DNA, it can also lead to some more long-term effects, but that’s another topic.

Once your lips are sunburned, as mentioned, there are a few different impacts you can find, and your lips may become sore, broken, cracked, red or even swollen.

How can I treat swollen sunburnt lips?

While a sunburn to the lip should heal naturally after around 3-5 days, not everyone likes the idea of walking around with swollen lips for the entire time, which is where some home remedies come in. The great thing about using remedies like these is that they aren’t very expensive, and there are a few different methods you can try if one of them doesn’t work for you. So, if you’re looking for some DIY treatments to fix your swollen, sunburn problem, here are some to try!

Home RemedyDescription
Aloe Vera GelApply a small amount of pure aloe vera gel to your swollen lips. Aloe vera has soothing properties that can help reduce inflammation and provide relief.
Cold CompressPlace a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a clean cloth on your swollen lips for a few minutes. The cold temperature can help constrict blood vessels and reduce swelling.
HoneyApply a thin layer of raw honey to your swollen lips. Honey has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe and reduce swelling.
Table 1: Home Remedies for Swollen Sunburned Lips

Method #1: use an at-home moisturiser

One of the best, more fail proof solutions against any sunburn, whether it’s on the back, the face, or the lips, is a good, deep moisturiser, and it can be just the ticket for taking the swelling right down on your lips. When you first think of a moisturiser, you may think of a body lotion or face cream, but what’s actually needed in this situation is something a little stronger.

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The ingredients you’re looking out for are the nutrient-rich, nourishing ones such as castor oil, beeswax, coconut oil, almond oil, shea butter or vitamin E. These are all very common ingredients found in many lip balms, and they’re all-natural. You could either find a strong, heavy-duty healing lip balm that contains these ingredients or use just one of them in a small balm of your own, by simply applying it to your lips.

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These moisturisers will all be effective at soothing the swelling, and they’ll help the root of the problem – the sunburn itself – which is a more sustainable approach if you want to help your lips for longer. It’ll also give your lips good nourishment, leaving them feeling soft and well-cared for once you’re finished. Of course, other moisturisers are useful for this same reason, too, such as petroleum jelly, as it seals the moisture in your lips.

Also read: Best Organic Lip Balm With SPF (My Recommendation)

Method #2: using a cold compress

When you bruise your knee or generate swelling anywhere else on your body, a cold compress is generally the automatic, most effective direction to go in, as anything cold is proven to bring down swelling and inflammation. Your lips are no exception, and if you want a quick, easy way to bring down swollen lips as a result of sunburn, a cold compress will do the trick.


All you have to do is soak a wash cloth or compress in some cool water and leave it on the lips for a while. If you’re looking for even more comfort and relief from the swelling, you could always wrap the compress around some ice and rest it on the lips. Just make sure that the ice is not placed directly onto the skin, as this will cause an ice burn, and potentially cause even more pain.

Using this cooling effect on your lips will bring down the swelling, and also reduce the uncomfortable, hot feeling people often experience as a result of sunburn.

Method #3: skimmed milk

When you think of healing a sunburn, skimmed milk probably isn’t the first thought that comes to mind, but it can be a very good remedy if you’re looking to repair your lips after a heavy sunburn and sun damage. All you need for this method is a compress and some fat-free skimmed milk.

skimmed milk

Hopefully, your milk is chilled anyway, in order to keep it from spoiling, and this will provide some soothing properties for the swelling, as anything cool can be very useful, as we’ve seen in the previous method. Just dip the compress into some of the fat-free skimmed milk and hold it on your lips for a little while.

The milk is full of proteins which will help the burnt skin by forming somewhat of a protective film over the top of it, and this also protects the exposed nerve-ending if the burn is more severe, too. It’s worth using this method in conjunction with a moisturising product, even with something as simple as a basic lip balm or Vaseline, as this will help to create a seal on top of the lips.

Final thoughts

Now that you are aware of a few ways in which you can solve the problem of your swollen lips, you can be prepared to go out the next day, with much less pain, and speed up the recovery process. Remember, prevention is always easier than cure, so the best remedy is always protecting your lips from the damage in the first place, by using a protective lip balm!

About Anastasija

Welcome to my website! I'm Anastasija, and as a redhead with a sensitivity to the sun, I embarked on a quest to find the perfect sunless tanner six years ago.

After extensive research and four years of personal experience, I'm here to share my wealth of tips and tricks for achieving a beautiful, sun-kissed glow.

Whether you're interested in self-tanners, spray tans, or safe sun exposure, this website covers it all.

Join me as I provide valuable insights and guidance for various methods of getting that desired tan.

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