Angular cheilitis, also known as angular stomatitis or perleche, refers to a lip infection that leads to inflammation and cracked skin in the corners of the mouth where the lips meet.
The condition starts as mild discomfort and slowly progresses into painful sores. While the inflammation may not appear very grave, it can make everyday activities like speaking and eating difficult. Angular cheilitis can affect either one side or both sides of the mouth.
Before we look at home remedies for treating angular cheilitis, read on to learn what causes it and what symptoms you should look out for.
- Causes of Angular Cheilitis
- Symptoms of Angular Cheilitis
- Preventing Angular Cheilitis
- Home Remedies to Treat Angular Cheilitis
- Method 1: Tea Tree Oil
- Method 2: Vitamin B
- Method 3: Dish Soap & Vaseline
- Method 4: Yogurt
- Method 5: Castor Oil
- Method 6: Manuka Honey
- Method 7: Antifungal Cream
Causes of Angular Cheilitis
The primary cause of angular cheilitis is a fungal infection resulting from the accumulation of saliva in the corners of the mouth. This usually happens when you drool in your sleep. The fungal infection is commonly caused by the candida yeast.
Other causes or contributing factors include:
- Excessive licking of lips, which creates a moist environment for the yeast to grow.
- Bacterial or viral infection.
- Persistent oral thrush.
- Excessive use of antibiotics.
- Crohn’s disease.
- Ill-fitted dentures.
- Deficiency of minerals, such as iron, zinc or vitamin B2.
- Overhanging upper lip.
- Conditions like diabetes, anemia or cancer can also make you prone to angular cheilitis.
Symptoms of Angular Cheilitis
Apart from irritation and dryness in the corners of the mouth, angular cheilitis can also cause:
- Painful and bleeding lips.
- Red and swollen corners of the mouth.
- Itchy, cracked and crusty skin on the lips.
- Pustules, which are spots resembling blisters or pimples.
- Bad taste in the mouth.
Preventing Angular Cheilitis
- Avoid licking or biting your lips.
- Drink enough water to keep yourself hydrated and prevent dry or chapped lips.
- Keep your skin and lips well-moisturized.
- Maintain good oral hygiene.
- Avoid using harsh cosmetics.
Home Remedies to Treat Angular Cheilitis
If you are suffering from symptoms of angular cheilitis, it is important to get the condition diagnosed to ensure appropriate treatment. Your doctor may take culture swabs from the corners of your mouth to send to a lab for testing.
Once confirmed, you can use one of the following home remedies to get rid of angular cheilitis.
Method 1: Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil is the most popular remedy for treating any fungal infection. The volatile oil, when diluted and applied topically, not only works as an antiseptic but also has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin, and is especially useful for treating acne.
According to a 1998 study published in The Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, tea tree oil was effective in dealing with a superficial candida infection when applied topically.
When using tea tree oil, dilute it in coconut oil first. Coconut oil also is a natural antifungal and will further help soothe the skin by keeping it moisturized, too.
Caution: Do not try to apply undiluted tea tree oil directly. The concentrated oil will irritate the already sensitive skin and aggravate the inflammation.
Things you’ll need:
- Tea tree essential oil (antifungal) – 2 or 3 drops
- Extra-virgin coconut oil (antifungal and used as carrier oil) – 1 tablespoon
Single-Step Treatment: Dilute tea tree oil in coconut oil and apply
- Add 2 or 3 drops of tea tree essential oil to 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin coconut oil.
- Blend the two oils.
- Soak a cotton ball in the solution.
- Dab it over the affected skin surrounding your mouth.
Reapply it 3 times daily for 2 to 3 days to get rid of angular cheilitis.
Method 2: Vitamin B
Our bodies require vitamin B to strengthen the immune system and ward off infections. Sometimes, people deficient in B vitamins can also develop mouth sores or angular cheilitis because the body fails to keep the candida yeast in check.
According to a 2002 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the incidence of angular cheilitis or stomatitis was higher in individuals with low riboflavin (vitamin B2) concentration.
Increasing the level of this vitamin in your body will not only aid swift recovery from the infection but also improve your overall health.
Single-Step Treatment: Consume vitamin B complex
- Consume 1 vitamin B complex capsule every day for 3 to 4 days to treat angular cheilitis. You will notice improvement in just 24 hours. Continue to take the supplement for 1 week to improve your body’s resistance.
- Once the infection has completely healed, whenever symptoms seem to flare up, simply take a vitamin B capsule to nip it in the bud.
Method 3: Dish Soap & Vaseline
This home remedy to treat angular cheilitis uses dish soap, which acts as a mild antibacterial cleanser to disinfect the skin. Also, fungi thrive in a moist environment and Vaseline helps kill it by forming a waterproof layer over the pathogenic cells. In fact, you can also use Vaseline to heal minor wounds quickly, and to stop bleeding from cuts and wounds.
Things you’ll need:
- Warm water – ½ cup
- Vaseline (waterproofs skin)
- Liquid dish soap (antibacterial cleanser) – 1 teaspoon
Step 1. Clean the affected area with diluted dish soap
- Add about 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap to ½ cup of warm water.
- Mix well to dissolve the soap.
- Soak a cotton ball in the solution and swipe it over the affected skin to clean off any dirt or impurities.
- Pat dry the skin with a clean cloth.
Step 2. Apply Vaseline over the affected skin
- Coat the inflamed skin with a thick layer of Vaseline.
Repeat every 2 hours for 3 to 4 days to heal angular cheilitis completely.
Method 4: Yogurt
Yogurt that contains live cultures of Lactobacillus bacteria, or the healthy bacteria, will help decolonize the invading pathogens and restore the natural flora in your body. Apart from consuming probiotic yogurt, applying it topically can also help get rid of angular cheilitis.
When using yogurt to treat an infection, opt for unsweetened and unflavored varieties only.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply plain yogurt on the inflamed skin
- Apply plain yogurt containing live cultures on the corners of your mouth.
- Leave it on overnight.
- The next morning, rinse it off with lukewarm water, pat dry and reapply.
Apply plain yogurt daily. You will notice improvement after the very first night. Continue for up to 1 week to get rid of angular cheilitis naturally.
Method 5: Castor Oil
Apart from its many beauty benefits, castor oil can also serve well for good health. The ricinoleic acid found in castor oil is both antifungal and antibacterial, and can effectively treat the angular cheilitis infection.
Moreover, the fatty content of the oil is anti-inflammatory and soothes pain and discomfort, as well as keeping the skin well-hydrated to prevent future recurrences.
Use cold-processed hexane-free castor oil only for treating an infection, as it contains the highest concentration of essential nutrients.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply castor oil on the affected areas
- Apply cold-pressed castor oil on the affected areas of your mouth.
- Leave it on for 30 minutes, then rinse it off with cold water.
Apply castor oil several times daily to get rid of angular cheilitis in 1 week.
Method 6: Manuka Honey
Produced in New Zealand, Manuka honey is being embraced as an amazing healing potion all around the world. While common honey also works by releasing hydrogen peroxide to heal any wound, Manuka honey contains a compound called methylglyoxal that gives it superior antimicrobial properties that can be used to treat conditions like acne inversa and perioral dermatitis.
According to a 2012 study published in The Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, in vitro use of honey has shown antifungal effects on candida yeast.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply Manuka honey on the blistered skin
- Apply Manuka honey over the cracked and blistered skin.
- Leave it on for 2 to 3 hours, then rinse it off with tepid water.
- Pat dry your skin and reapply.
Apply Manuka honey several times a day to cure angular cheilitis.
Method 7: Antifungal Cream
If none of the natural ingredients above have helped you, consult your doctor about using an antifungal cream. These over-the-counter creams contain 0.5 to 1% hydrocortisone, a mild steroid that helps bring down the inflammation significantly.
Caution: Hydrocortisone creams are not suitable for children under age 10. Also, pregnant women should consult their doctors before using any kind of antifungal cream.
Single-Step Treatment: Apply antifungal cream on the inflamed skin
- Apply 1% hydrocortisone-based antifungal cream on the inflamed or cracked skin several times a day to get rid of angular cheilitis.
- Cleaning pus-filled lesions with Listerine will make them dry out faster.
- Curb or reduce your consumption of sugar and breads, as bacteria feed on carbohydrates.
- Eat probiotic yogurt on a daily basis to maintain a healthy gut flora.
- Consume more fibrous foods and increase your water intake.
- Keep your lips hydrated using a homemade lip balm.
- Keep your home warm during extreme cold to prevent dry skin and flare-ups.