Description, Causes and Risk Factors:
Alternative names: Farmer's lip, Sailor's lip, and solar cheilitis.
Actinic cheilitis is a diffuse, degenerative, irreversible alteration of the vermilion border of the lower lip. Occurring primarily in men. Actinic Cheilitis does not appear until later on in life.
Actinic chelitis is caused by chronic and excessive exposure to the ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. There is thickening whitish discoloration of the lip at the border of the lip and skin. There is also loss of the usually sharp demarcation between the red of the lip and the normal skin (vermilion border). This condition is considered premalignant and may lead to squamous cell skin cancer.
The cause is often extreme sun exposure during young adult life. The lip becomes puffy, blotchy red and pale pink, with occasional white plaques (leukoplakia) and chronic ulcers.
Actinic cheilitis is significantly more common in men, the elderly, and fair-skinned individuals. There is also a strong association with tobacco use.
Persistent redness, scaliness, and chapping are among the symptoms noted. Erosions and cracks (fissures) may be present as well.
The histopathologic characteristics included increased thickness of keratin layer, alterations of the thickness of spinous cell layer, epithelial dysplasia, connective tissue changes, perivascular inflammation and basophilic changes of connective tissue.
To prevent further degeneration patients should use lip balm with sunscreens. Occurrence of induration, thickening, ulceration, or leukoplakia should lead to biopsy for histopathologic evaluation. In severe cases without evidence of malignancy, a lip shave procedure (vermilionectomy) may be performed. In less extreme cases, your physician may recommend destruction (ablation) of the damaged cells with a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser.
Alternative treatments include the use of electric current to destroy the precancerous cells (electrodesiccation) and a facial sanding technique (dermabrasion). Topical therapy with a chemotherapeutic agent (fluorouracil) or a topical immunomodulator (imiquimod) may be prescribed.
DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.
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