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How to Treat Angular Cheilitis at Home

Updated on January 19, 2016
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As a researcher and author, John provides information in an easy-to-understand way that helps readers understand their condition.

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You Can Treat Angular Cheilitis at Home

Angular cheilitis can be treated at home but you need to be aware of what you are doing since there are some so-called 'home remedies' that can actually make things even worse.

In this article you're going to discover several home treatments for angular cheilitis and how to use them effectively.

But, before we go into those, it makes sense to have a greater understanding of what angular cheilitis is, what the symptoms are, what causes it and how it is treated. In this way you'll have a much better understanding of how these home remedies for angular cheilitis actually work...

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What is Angular Cheilitis?

Angular cheilitis (also know as angular stomatitis or perlèche) is a painful condition that causes inflammation and splitting of the skin at the corners of the mouth (labial commissures). It is often accompanied by dry lips and flaky skin extending into the cheeks.

Unfortunately, as well as being painful, it's also very unsightly and hugely embarrassing for many sufferers.

It's a common problem in adults of both sexes, especially in older people who wear dentures. But it can appear in children too.

The good news though is that it isn't dangerous and will not cause any long term health problems.

Angular Cheilitis Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of angular cheilitis in the corners of the mouth are:-

  • redness / swelling / inflammation
  • fissures
  • bleeding
  • blisters
  • oozing sores
  • crusting

Where the infection spreads into the adjacent skin and elsewhere then often it manifests as a candida (yeast) infection of the skin or impetigo.

Most of the time angular cheilitis responds fairly quickly to anti-fungal and anti-bacterial medications. However, the symptoms will often appear, disappear and appear again several times. This is often because the root cause(s) are not being effectively addressed. Under these conditions a cure can be quite prolonged.

Causes

Angular cheilitis is caused by naturally occurring fungi or bacteria, or both acting together, that have taken advantage of one or more local and systemic issues in the victim's body. This is why angular cheilitis is often referred to as an 'opportunistic infection.'

The types of issues that can help trigger such an infection are things such as:-

  • a lowered immune system
  • poor diet (deficient in vitamins and minerals like folate, iron, and vitamin B)
  • stress
  • illness
  • salivary drooling
  • a dry mouth
  • dry / chapped lips
  • mouth overclosure resulting in deep skin folds at the corners of the mouth
  • deep skin creases at the corners of the mouth without overclosure
  • regular lips licking
  • ill-fitting dentures
  • sunburn

For example, when someone's immune system is not up to scratch their friendly bacteria numbers are usually reduced. If they reduce enough then a point can be reached where the 'bad guys' -- previously kept in check by the 'good guys' -- can begin to prosper and grow.

Stress and illness are known to weaken the immune system, as does nutritional deficiency, so they are key risk factors for angular cheilitis.

Now, on its own, a weakened immune system may or may not cause angular cheilitis, however, when combined with one or more of the other factors above, you get the biggest risk of angular cheilitis infection. This happens because the fungi and bacteria thrive in moist, warm conditions, especially where there are nooks and crannies they can take up residence in.

Treatment

For low levels of angular cheilitis no treatment is required and the condition usually clears up by itself. Where treatment is needed, the specific treatment depends on the root cause of the infection.

For example, where the cause is a bacteria, topical or oral antibiotics will usually be prescribed. Where it is fungal, then anti-fungal creams or medication will be administered. Topical antiseptics may be used to help contain the infection.

Note: You must always complete a course of medication even where the symptoms have alleviated.

Where there are nutritional deficiencies, that could be weakening the immune system, then supplements, such as vitamin B2 and B12, will be given at the same time as the antibiotics or anti-fungals prescribed above.

Where ill-fitting dentures could be a contributory cause then these will need to be fixed to help prevent the angular cheilitis reoccurring.

Sometimes, where the person has very deep labial commissures, dental implants or filler injections may be possible to help 'fill-out' and lessen the depth of the commisures. This can help to reduce the risk of further infections.

Okay, now let us look at how to treat angular cheilitis at home...

How to Treat Angular Cheilitis at Home

Home treatment for angular cheilitis is generally based on using natural approaches for both a healthier immune system, to help combat the infection, and the elimination of the painful and unsightly local symptoms of angular cheilitis.

Here are 11 ways to treat your angular cheilitis in at home...

(1) Nutrition

Eat a balanced diet with plenty of variation, including lots of fruit and vegetables, to ensure that you receive sufficient quantities of all the vitamins and minerals that your body, and crucially your immune system, requires.

For example, B vitamins and iron, found in red meats, and vitamin C from citrus fruits can help your immune system to function more effectively in combatting the infection.

You should continue with this more balanced, varied, and healthy diet even after the symptoms of angular cheilitis have gone, because it will help to prevent future angular cheilitis episodes.

(2) Get Rid of / Manage Your Stress

Stress is known to be a significant contributor to a weakened immune system, so you must do all that you can to reduce or manage your stress better.

We can't go into this in detail here, but the type of things you should consider are things like yoga, daily meditation, relaxation exercises, breathing exercises, listening to music, daily exercise such as walking, running, cycling, and so on.

(3) Get a Good Night's Sleep

Lack of proper sleep can also affect your immune system. Make sure you get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. If you aren't, find out the cause: Is it your mattress or pillow? Is your room too warm or too cold? Do you sleep in a noisy environment?

Also, get into the habit of going to bed at the same time each night and don't eat later than 3 hours before going to bed; the same with consuming alcohol.

(4) Stay Hydrated

It is important to keep well hydrated to help your immune system fight off infection and your body to flush waste material and toxins out of your body. Drink at least 2.5 litres of water per day, preferably evenly throughout the day.

(5) Lip Balm

Regular applications of a hypoallergenic lip balm containing petroleum jelly or beeswax can be helpful in keeping the lips moist to reduce cracking, but only when used correctly...

They should only be applied by clean fingers, not a stick. Hands should be washed thoroughly before and after each application to prevent the bacteria / fungi spreading.

Note: Do not use the type of balm used for chapped lips, such as ChapStick, as these may help to encourage the infection.

(6) Cocoa Butter

A natural moisturizer, cocoa butter can help to relieve chapped lips as well as to reduce inflammation at the corners of the mouth. Apply over the affected area(s) 2 or 3 times daily.

(7) Aloe Vera

Aloe vera can help to speed up the rate of healing by repairing skin tissue through promoting cell regeneration. It can also help to reduce the pain that occurs when the lesions at the corners repeatedly open up. Apply to the affected area(s) and leave for 15 minutes, then rinse off. Do this 2 to 3 times per day.

(8) Honey

In the laboratory, honey has been shown to have some anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Many people claim manuka honey is the most potent in this respect. Again, apply 2 to 3 times a day and rinse off after 15 minutes.

(9) Neem Leaves

Neem is an evergreen tree native to India and Pakistan where it is used extensively in traditional medicine for a vast range of conditions, including angular cheilitis. Research has shown that neem leaves contain quercetin which is an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent.

You can get fresh, dried and powdered leaves, as a tea, or the extract in capsules, oil and cream. Check with your local health food store or online.

(10) Salt Water Solution

Dab a salt water solution onto the cuts directly and use also as a mouthwash. This will help to kill off the microorganisms and prevent further infection. Another benefit is that the salt will help to dry out the open wounds at the corners of your mouth and promote faster healing.

(11) Avoid Licking Your Lips

You'll be sorely tempted to lick your lips for relief but you must not do this. When your saliva evaporates, the surface it leaves from (your lips) will dry-out even more, thus making the situation even worse and prolonging your agony.

So, there you have it, 11 tips on how to treat angular cheilitis at home. Remember, the key to remaining free from cheilitis is a healthy immune system.

Disclaimer

The content of this Hub is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be a substitute for proper medical diagnosis, treatment or advice, and you should not assume that it is. Always consult your health-care provider / physician / doctor before taking any medications, natural remedies, supplements, or making any major changes to your diet.

© 2014 JCielo

Please Leave a Comment

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    • Dr Pran Rangan profile image

      Dr Pran Rangan 

      4 years ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks for the informative hub.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you for sharing all the useful information about angular cheilitis. I've had the condition in the past, so I'll remember your tips!

    • JCielo profile imageAUTHOR

      JCielo 

      4 years ago from England

      DDE - thanks for taking the time to leave your comment.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I did not have this condition but with this helpful hub I know more about it. informative and useful indeed.

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