Cheilitis implies inflammation of lips. It is characterized by redness, swelling, scaling or crusting of lips. Actinic cheilitis is one such type of common lip condition which has the potential to turn into squamous cell carcinoma. Mostly, the lower lip is affected in actinic cheilitis.
In a true sense it is a form of actinic keratosis, a skin condition. The lip becomes thick with the border of lip turning white. Scales and crusts develop. This change causes loss of demarcation of lip border with the adjacent skin. Usually, people who spend more time in strong sunlight for many hours are prone to this condition.Many refer actinic cheilitis as farmers lip. Below are given important causes and symptoms of the disease.
What Causes Actinic Cheilitis?
People above the age of 50 are normally affected with actinic cheilitis. Men are affected more than women. Excessive exposure to sunlight for a long duration is the triggering factor. Fair skinned individuals are more susceptible to actinic cheilitis as they do not have too much of melanin pigments. Melanin pigments protect the skin from ultra violate rays of sun.
- Other contributing factors include tobacco chewing and smoking. It may aggravate the condition.
- Eating chilies and condiments also tend to further the progression of actinic cheilitis.
- People keeping poor oral hygiene or ill fitting dentures can also aggravate the problem.
- Coming in contact with certain sensitizing offending agents such as lipstick, toothpaste or lip balm which has allergen in it can result in deterioration of already present cheilitis.
Actinic Cheilitis Diagnosis
Actinic cheilitis is diagnosed by the appearance of the lip. There is a long term history of sun exposure. Loss of elasticity of lip skin, crust and white areas appear on lip. There is characteristic appearance of ulcers and white patches on lower lip.
Further confirmation is possible after skin biopsy. When put under microscope, the biopsy material may reveal several abnormal histopathological changes indicating actinic cheilitis.
How To Cure Actinic Cheilitis?
When actinic cheilitis is suspected, the patient should be consult a dermatologist or oral surgeon. Since actinic cheilitis is irreversible condition, early detection of the condition gives favorable outcome. The treatment period also becomes short.
Use of topical medications is valuable when actinic cheilits is in its minor stage. Certain medicines block DNA synthesis. The result of this medications prescribed by the dermatologist may take a month or sometime even more. With this therapy the lesions may completely go into remission.
In many cases medicines does not respond. Other options are then considered. Cryosurgery is one such better option. It is useful for treating small lesions.
Electrosurgery is another alternative method. But there is a chance of scar formation, healing may get delayed.
Dermatologists also suggest chemical peeling in some cases.
Certain home tips are also valuable:
- Patient who smoke should be advised to stop it.
- Patient should also avoid chewing tobacco.
- When they go out in sun, they should use sunscreen, wide brim hats, and also apply protective lip balm.
- It is necessary to take proper treatment as it is a premalignant condition.