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actinic cheilitis

A condition of the lip caused by a lifetime of exposure to the sun. 

actinic cheilitis

Actinic cheilitis is a precancerous condition that gradually appears on the skin as a lesion over time as a result of direct UV exposure. It is different from a typical age spot and can appear as a scaly growth in areas that get extreme amounts of sun exposure, like the face, back of hands, and ears. 

Common symptoms include dry or cracked lips and occasional precancerous lesions. 


what are these lesions like?

Actinic cheilitis and other pre-cancerous lesions often start out small in size and grow throughout development. Sometimes, it is easier to feel these lesions rather than see them. They tend to be rough and crusty, appearing red, pink, dark, and even similar to your own skin tone. It is common for these lesions to be itchy or inflamed. If left unchecked, these lesions can turn into squamous cell carcinoma.

what is the treatment?

Treatment for actinic cheilitis includes topical treatments and Fractional Resurfacing.

Devices used to treat this condition:

Topical treatments might include: 

  • Efudex (5-fluorouracil)
  • Aldara (imiquimod)
  • Picato (ingenol mebutate)

When Will I See Results?

You may start to see improvement in the days following your procedure. However, most patients won’t experience their final result until a week or two after treatment.

How Can I Prevent Lesions From Developing?

Stay out of the sun. Direct sunlight can be harsh on the skin. Staying in the shade, wearing sun-protective clothing, and wearing SPF 30 sunscreen can help protect your skin from damage. 

Avoid smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol. Tobacco use and alcohol can also damage the skin and lips so stay away from them as much as possible. 

Stay hydrated. Drink as much water as you can per day and keep your skin fresh with a moisturizer, preferably one with a minimum of SPF 30. 

before and image of a fraxel laser treatment for actinic cheilitis

Real Patients Before and After photos

Mohs surgery to remove skin cancer on the ear

Mohs surgery to remove skin cancer on the ear

Mohs surgery to remove skin cancer on chin

Mohs surgery to remove skin cancer on chin

Mohs surgery to treat skin cancer near nose

Mohs surgery to treat skin cancer near nose

Disclaimer: Results may vary from patient to patient. Results are not guaranteed.

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actinic cheilitis

Questions and Answers

Q: Who Can Develop Pre-Cancerous Lesions?

A: Everyone is at risk to develop a pre-cancerous lesion. Family history, fair skin, light hair and eyes, and UV exposure are all factors that can increase one’s risk of developing a lesion. 

Q: How Much Does Treatment Cost?

A: Treatment costs vary from patient to patient depending on the treatment plan. Visit your doctor for a skin consultation to find out more about pricing for your personal plan. 

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