Read about actinic cheilitis medical facts: what is the definition of actinic cheilitis, what are the signs and symptoms, medical treatment & how to treat actinic cheilitis, information about the causes, diagnosis, and related actinic cheilitis diseases.

Definition: What is "Actinic Cheilitis"?


Actinic cheilitis definition: Sometimes known as "sailor's lip" or "farmer's lip," actinic cheilitis is a precancerous condition related to cumulative lifetime sun exposure. People with this disorder often complain of cracking of the lips & persistent dryness where the lower lip is most often affected.

Symptoms & Signs

Located on the lips, actinic cheilitis is most often on the lower lip. Among the signs & symptoms noted are scaliness, persistent redness & chapping of the lip. Cracks (fissures) & erosions may be present as well.

Treatment: How to Treat "Actinic Cheilitis"?

Without evidence of malignancy in severe cases, a lip shave procedure (vermilionectory may be performed for the treatment of this skin disorder). A physician may also recommend destruction (ablation) of the damaged cells with carbon dioxide laser in less extreme cases.


The main cause of actinic cheilitis or farmer's lip is excessive & chronic exposure to ultraviolet radiation in sunlight. There may be a thickening whitish discoloration of the lip at the border of the skin & lip. The usually sharp demarcation between the normal skin (vermilion border) & the red of the lip may also be lost.


Your doctor may remove a small skin sample (biopsy) for examination under a microscope, in addition to taking a complete checking of the affected area of the skin & as well as a complete medical history. The biopsy is often sent to a pathologist in diagnosing the skin samples.

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