Dealing with angular cheilitis can be frustrating and painful while you're healing. Instead, use these home remedies to relieve pain and other symptoms.
If you have had to endure an episode of angular cheilitis or you know someone who has, you can understand how painful and frustrating this problem can be. For those who have never had it or don’t understand it, it can easily be mistaken as severely chapped lips or a rash on the side of the mouth.
Those who are displaying these symptoms can feel embarrassed by the sudden onset of angular cheilitis, but the worst part is likely the pain that comes with it. Understanding this issue can ward off the chances of getting angular cheilitis, and thankfully there are effective home remedies that will either soothe the pain or help get rid of it all together.
What Is Angular Cheilitis
Angular cheilitis is a problematic condition that causes inflammation and a rash along the inside corners of a person's mouth. Circumstances that cause this issue can differ, but people who experience this condition usually have dealt with several of the following symptoms.
- Scaly skin
- Blistered lips
- Red or swollen by or on the lips
- Crusting along the irritated area
- Cracked and bleeding lips
This problem isn’t limited to one side of your mouth either. In many cases, both corners of the mouth are affected by the same issue which can impede on eating, drinking and general comfort. Patients with more severe symptoms have lost a considerable amount of weight because they can’t eat enough due to the pain.
These symptoms have been known to last a few days, but it can become a chronic issue if the cause isn’t taken care of as well as the signs. No one is exempt from dealing with angular cheilitis, the elderly, healthy adults, and even infants can become susceptible to the infection.
What Causes Angular Cheilitis?
Several causes eventually lead up to angular cheilitis, and the most common culprit is a pathogenic yeast known as Candida albicans. To give some perspective on what this is, this is the same microorganism that causes yeast infections for women. Ultimately it’s a fungal infection that is a result of saliva sitting at the corners of your mouth for too long.
After a while, the saliva that sits there for too long will eventually dry out the corners of your mouth and lips which will lead to irritation and cracks forming along the lips. This problem gets worse when you lick at the edges of your mouth to try and relieve the dry and irritated area, effectively transferring Candida albicans that reside in your mouth onto your open wounds.
Other bacteria can also become an issue for developing angular cheilitis, but you’re likely more at risk of developing it if certain factors apply to you. Children are especially susceptible to angular cheilitis, sucking on their thumbs and overproduction of saliva make it easier for angular cheilitis to set in.
Individuals who have an overhang on their upper lip are also at risk due to the deeper angles that allow for saliva to store itself. People who have a family history of oral thrush are also more likely to get angular cheilitis as well as people who have to use corticosteroids and antibiotics. Other factors that raise your chances of contracting angular cheilitis are:
- Individuals with sensitive skin
- People with Crohn's Disease
- People who wear braces
- Individuals who smoke
- People who suffer from autoimmune diseases like cancer
- The Elderly
Once you start displaying symptoms, it’s advisable not to ignore it. The first of the signs you’ll likely encounter is slight flakiness around the corners of your mouth, and your lips might feel tighter and painful when you try to open your mouth. You’ll notice a redness that will appear specifically around the corners of your mouth when it gets worse.
Letting it worsen to the point that it becomes a chronic means that you’ll have to deal with it repeatedly throughout your lifetime. If you think you may have angular cheilitis, it’s best to go to a doctor. If left untreated, not only could your condition become chronic, your situation could lead to oral thrush which is its own nightmare.
Treating Angular Cheilitis
When you visit your doctor, they will likely do a culture swab of the affected area before providing medication to treat your angular cheilitis. Most of the time, your doctor will prescribe a topical antifungal if it is indeed a yeast infection. If your angular cheilitis is the result of something else, your doctor will prescribe appropriate medication to handle it.
While treating your angular cheilitis is relatively easy by visiting a doctor, there are things you can do to ease the symptoms, and most of these items can be found at home or easily obtained from your local grocery store.
Using a good lip balm regularly is an excellent way to keep your lips hydrated and prevent cracking and split lips, and you can use the brand that you're familiar with. However, some of the best-rated ones that we can recommend are items like Burt's Bees natural lip balm, Blistex medicated lip balm and Jack Black intense therapy lip balm.
Applying it throughout the day, especially in wintertime, will help keep your lips looking healthy and prevent any onset of angular cheilitis. Blistex medicated lip balm also helps keep bacteria at bay from open sores on your lips so you can reduce the amount of inflammation that can occur. Make sure that your lip balm is unscented and unflavored to avoid irritation.
Petroleum jelly is one of those multifunctional items that should have a permanent spot in your homes medicine cabinet. Applying a single coat of jelly will form a protective layer that bacteria won't be able to penetrate. Thankfully this also softens up the skin so if you already have symptoms, and you’ll be able to soften the scaling skin and irritated patches.
If you’re experiencing symptoms and your skin is irritated while you’re going through treatment, you can cut a slice of cucumber on the area that’s inflamed and gently rub it around. This method cools the inflammation and can help relieve soreness caused by the problem.
The ascorbic acid and caffeic acid that naturally occurs in cucumbers are both useful in soothing skin irritations, and they double in preventing water retention. Cucumbers frequently get used for people who suffer from dermatitis and burns. These beneficial properties provide hydration to your skin and doubles as an astringent.
Staying hydrated is key to alleviating most health issues, and the same is true when it comes to dealing with angular cheilitis. Not only does it keep your lips more hydrated, but water also helps keep your immune system functioning correctly. During an outbreak it’s especially important to keep up on hydration, drinking enough water to stay hydrated throughout your day.
Honey is well known for its antibacterial properties, and when you have an outbreak, it’s best to use some of this every day to help your symptoms. It’s essential to get pure honey, not the sugary adaptations that they sell in your average grocery store. Sugar of any kind during an outbreak especially will make the symptoms worse as the yeast bacteria feeds off of sugars.
Apply your honey wherever your symptoms are present, letting it rest for 15 minutes before wiping it off. Pairing this method with the cucumber method will help reduce the severity of the pain and the irritation on your skin. You can repeat this as much as needed throughout the day until your symptoms begin to alleviate.
Aloe Vera Gel
Whether you buy a whole aloe vera leaf or you get them in store packaged gel doesn’t matter. Aloe vera is another ingredient that works wonders on the skin for hydration and keeping infection at bay. If you’ve purchased a whole leaf, you’ll want to refrigerate it before you work in your application.
Once it’s cooled off, cut off a piece and rub the gel-like insides on the affected area. Leave the gel on your face for at least 15 minutes before washing it off. The aloe helps soften the skin and works as an antimicrobial to kill off bacteria cultures residing on the affected area. Repeat this process as much as needed throughout your day.
Petroleum Jelly Mixture
Using two tablespoons of tea tree oil, half a teaspoon of petroleum jelly and a tablespoon of vitamin E oil, you’ll be able to create a mixture that you can apply to your irritated skin as many times as you wish. Vitamin E is a versatile vitamin that plays a hand in skin restoration and as a protectant for your skin in general.
Tea tree oil has much of the same responsibilities as vitamin E, providing soothing relief and healing properties, combining the two with petroleum jelly creates a homemade skin healing gel that you can apply to the affected area to help heal new and old cracks while hydrating scaly and irritated skin.