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Can a Lip Balm with DNA Repair Enzymes Treat Actinic Cheilitis?

A recent study found a topical lip balm with DNA repair enzymes may effective treat patients with actinic cheilitis.

“DNA repair enzymes have been showed to reduce actinic keratoses and nonmelanoma skin cancers, but their use for the treatment of actinic cheilitis has not been studied,” the researchers said. They examined the efficacy of a topical DNA repair enzyme lip balm containing T4 endonuclease in a pilot study that included 29 participants with actinic cheilitis. Participants applied the lip balm twice a day for 3 months. Twenty-five participants completed the trial.
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Primary and secondary outcomes included the percentage of actinic lip involvement, pre- and post-intervention determination of actinic cheilitis score on the Actinic Cheilitis Scale, and physician assessment using the Global Aesthetic Improvement Scale.

“The lip balm significantly decreased the percentage of affected lip surface area,” the researchers said. Likewise, the lip balm significantly decreased the percentage of lip involvement, amount of roughness, erythema, and tenderness on the Actinic Cheilitis Scale.

In addition, the researchers observed significant improvements in total Actinic Cheilitis Scale scores after 3 months of treatment. “According to the Global Aesthetic Improvement Scale, the average score for 26 patients was 1.04,” they said.

“This study suggests that topical DNA repair enzyme lip balm containing T4 endonuclease could potentially be a safe and efficacious way to improve and treat actinic cheilitis,” the researchers concluded.


Rosenthal A, Lyons A, Moy L, et al. DNA repair enzyme containing lip balm for the treatment of actinic cheilitis: A pilot study. J Drug Dermatol. 2019;18(6):576-579.

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