Clinical Oral Investigations

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 2041–2053 | Cite as

Treatment of actinic cheilitis: a systematic review

  • Arthur Pias Salgueiro
  • Luciano Henrique de Jesus
  • Isadora Follak de Souza
  • Pantelis Varvaki Rados
  • Fernanda VisioliEmail author



Actinic cheilitis is a potentially malignant disorder caused by excessive sun exposure. It affects the lower lip of individuals, mostly those with light skin color. Different treatments have been proposed for AC; however, no consensus has been reached on the best option available.

Materials and methods

The present study describes the results of a computer-based systematic search conducted on electronic databases to identify the best therapies.


A total of 29 journal articles were selected, and the results were divided according to the type of treatment employed: laser therapy, chemotherapy agents, surgical treatment, and application of anti-inflammatory agents. Clinically, photodynamic therapy showed positive results, with improvement in up to 100% of the patients; however, histopathological improvement varied greatly, from 16 to 100%. Among the chemotherapeutic agents assessed, imiquimod showed the best results: clinical improvement in 80 to 100% of the patients, and histopathological improvement in 73 to 100%. Regarding studies describing surgical approaches, the main focus was the search for the best technique, rather than the cure of AC. Finally, studies employing anti-inflammatory agents are sparse and have small samples, thus providing limited results.


The scientific evidence available on the treatment of AC is scarce and heterogeneous, photodynamic therapy, and imiquimod application are promising.

Clinical relevance

The study of the treatments for AC in the form of a systematic review allows us to evaluate the results against the different treatments. Being a potentially malignant lesion, it is important to seek evidence about the best results found.


Actinic cheilitis Imiquimod Vermilionectomy Laser Systematic review 



The work was supported by the CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico, Brazil).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

For this type of study, formal consent is not required.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oral Pathology DepartmentUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil

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