SynopsisCodesLook ForDiagnostic PearlsDifferential Diagnosis & PitfallsBest TestsManagement PearlsTherapyReferences

Information for Patients

View all Images (20)

Actinic cheilitis - Oral Mucosal Lesion
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Actinic cheilitis - Oral Mucosal Lesion

Contributors: Vivian Wong MD, PhD, Carl Allen DDS, MSD, Sook-Bin Woo MS, DMD, MMSc, Susan Burgin MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Actinic cheilitis (also known as farmer's lip or sailor's lip) represents confluent actinic keratoses on the lips, most often the lower lip. Like discrete actinic keratoses, actinic cheilitis is also a premalignant condition related to cumulative lifetime sun exposure. It is significantly more common in men, elderly patients, and patients with light skin phototypes.

Individuals with actinic cheilitis often present with complaints of persistent dryness and cracking of the lips. They will frequently exhibit other cutaneous manifestations of sun damage (eg, actinic keratoses, poikiloderma of Civatte, actinic comedones).

Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) develops in 10%-30% of cases of actinic cheilitis.


K13.0 – Diseases of lips

46795000 – Actinic cheilitis

Look For

Subscription Required

Diagnostic Pearls

Subscription Required

Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Lip-licking dermatitis
  • Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome (Melkersson-Rosenthal disease)
  • Oral squamous cell carcinoma (see also Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma)
  • Cheilitis (isotretinoin and other retinoids)
  • Cheilitis glandularis

Best Tests

Subscription Required

Management Pearls

Subscription Required


Subscription Required


Subscription Required

Last Reviewed:11/02/2020
Last Updated:11/02/2020
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.
Patient Information for Actinic cheilitis - Oral Mucosal Lesion
Print E-Mail Images (20)
Contributors: Medical staff writer
Premium Feature
VisualDx Patient Handouts
Available in the Elite package
  • Improve treatment compliance
  • Reduce after-hours questions
  • Increase patient engagement and satisfaction
  • Written in clear, easy-to-understand language. No confusing jargon.
  • Available in English and Spanish
  • Print out or email directly to your patient
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.
Actinic cheilitis - Oral Mucosal Lesion
A medical illustration showing key findings of Actinic cheilitis : Lip scaling, Dry lips
Clinical image of Actinic cheilitis - imageId=2929233. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'Scaly, white, and erythematous plaques on the lower lip.'
Scaly, white, and erythematous plaques on the lower lip.
Copyright © 2024 VisualDx®. All rights reserved.