Cracked lip corners are super annoying. They irritate the skin at the corners of the mouth making it difficult to smile, eat or drink. Read on for more on how to cracked lip corners fast with effective home treatments.
Cracked Lip Corners
Also known as angular cheilitis, cracked lip corners are dry, red, tender cracks at the corners of the mouth. This is an inflammatory condition that characterized by dry crusty skin at the edges of the mouth.
There a variety of causes which may be local or systemic. Local causes may arise from the inside or around the mouth.
Causes from inside the mouth
- Inflammation of the skin that underlies dentures- poorly fitting dentures
- Absent teeth especially the back teeth that support facial tissues can lead to bites leading to cracks at the lip corners
- Drooling during sleep in children and young adults
- Accumulation of yeast or fungi due to excess saliva trapped at the corners of the mouth
- Orthodontic braces
Causes that arise from outside the mouth going in
- Wrinkling due to old age- presence of marionette lines
- Sagging skin around the mouth from weight loss or aging
- Overclosure of the mouth
- Thinning of the skin due to sun damage
- Allergies to products that come into contact with lips such as toothpaste or lipstick
- Cold weather with dry air
Other system conditions that lead to changes in the integrity of the oral mucous membranes such as;
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Vitamin B deficiency
- Zinc deficiency
- Autoimmune disorders
- Infectious diseases such as cold sores
- Bacterial infection
- Allergic contact dermatitis from cosmetics, dentures or chewing gum
- HIV and AIDS
- Side effects from drugs such as indinavir and isotretinoin
- Recreational drug use; methamphetamines, heroin, and cocaine
Symptoms of Cracked Lip Corners
Since there are different possible causes, the symptoms and appearance of the lesion are variable. They commonly appear symmetrically on both sides of the mouth. Sometimes only one corner of the mouth is affected.
The crack may be limited to the mucous lining of the lip. In rare cases, it extends to the skin that makes part of the face.
Cracked lip corners affect people of all ages. You can get it during any season but most often during the cold winters. This because there is lack of humidity in the air thus impairing the moisture lip barrier. Your lips are more prone to cracking.
At times, dealing with cracked lip corners can be a little embarrassing. Most people confuse the sores and cracks in angular cheilitis to herpes.
It is common for young people with HIV to develop sores and cracks at the corners of the lips. This is because the virus weakens the immune system making it easier to develop sores on mucous membranes.
This condition can last for days to years depending on the underlying cause.
Other symptoms may include:
- Cracked, crusted or ulcerated lips
- In severe cases, the cracked corners may bleed when you open the mouth
- There may be a formation of ulcers and a crust at the corners.
How to Heal Cracked Lip Corners Fast
Cracked lip corners can be a little tricky to treat because of the folded skin tissue and presence of moisture. While there are many remedies touted to help with cracked lip corners, not all of them provide a cure. Some remedies bring temporary relief while others exacerbate the problem. So, what can you do to heal cracked lip corners? Here is where to start;
DO NOT Lick your Lips
Due to the inflammation and irritation, you are likely to keep licking the area. This draws out more moisture making thus more cracking. Once the cracks form at the corners of the mouth accumulation of saliva or contamination can lead to secondary infection.
Use a Mild Toothpaste
The presence of cracked lip corners may simply mean that you are reacting to your toothpaste. Some kinds of toothpaste have strong acidic ingredients that aggravate pain and irritation on cracks that have already formed.
You may have to go for an allergy testing to determine whether your toothpaste is really the culprit. If so, try products that are made for sensitive teeth and gums such as;
- CrestPro Health
- Colgate Sensitive Pro Relief
- Oral B Sensitive Advantage
A better option is to use toothpastes with natural ingredients or those with mild flavors. Once you get tested, it will be easier to go through the list of ingredients to avoid allergens.
Change your Diet to Heal Cracked Lip Corners due to Vitamin Deficiency
Your lips tell a lot more about your diet than you think. The body expresses undernourishment in a number of ways. The lips are one of them. For example, eating spicy foods on a regular may be a trigger for sores and cracks at lip corners.
For cracked lip corners associated with nutritional deficiencies, supplement or eat diets rich in the B vitamins, Vitamin E, and zinc. Food rich in Iron is also very essential.
It is important to note that nutritional disorders are not only caused by malnutrition due to poor intake. It may also be due to malabsorption due to gastrointestinal disorders such as celiac disease, gastrointestinal surgeries, alcoholism and strict vegan diets.
Stay away from foods that trigger local allergies in the mouth. Avoid acidic foods such as pineapples, alcoholic drinks and those that may cause injuries such as sugarcane.
Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
It is common to make the assumption that slathering a layer of jelly on your lips is enough to treat cracked corners of the lips. It is NOT! While it may offer relief for symptoms such as crustiness and pain, it may also be the reason why you develop an infection.
Since the skin is a little folded at the corners, accumulation of moisture from balms and saliva slows down healing. Moisturizing will only help if the cause of your cracked lip corners stems from dry lips. Use medicated balms and those that have non-allergic ingredients.
Cracked Lip Corners Treatment
If you are not able to treat cracked corners of the lips at home, consider these options where treatment depends on the cause.
Over the counter treatment
OTC remedies may help with the symptoms. Buy an over the counter hydrocortisone cream to help counter inflammation. Apply it on the cracked corners of the mouth several times a day. This may not help much if the underlying cause is not gotten rid of.
Talk to a professional
Doctors always have an idea what to check for. With a good history and proper examination, he will be to make a clinical diagnosis. You may have to go through a series of laboratory tests to eliminate systemic causes. With proper treatment, cracked lip corners can be treated. Your doctor will be sure to give you essential meds depending on cause, duration, and severity.
Cracks at the corners of the mouth may be a breeding ground for yeast and fungus. While the fissures may not have been caused by an infection, it is very easy for one to develop. For diagnosis, the cracks are swabbed and tested to detect candida, bacteria or fungal organisms.
Your doctor may prescribe topical creams for yeast such as ketoconazole or clotrimazole. Antifungal agents such as Monistat Derm can be used in combination with corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone to help with inflammation.
If bacteria are detected from the swab, treatment will now include an anti-bacterial effective against isolated bacteria.
If these treatments don’t seem to work, further investigations may be done to further rule out possible systemic causes. A course or iron or vitamin B supplements may be all that you need.
Home Remedies for Angular Cheilitis
There are many home remedies to help cure cracked lip corners. They moisturize your lip skin without creating a wet environment.
An antiseptic, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory which is effective against fungi and a wide range of bacteria.
- Extract gel from an Aloe leaf
- Refrigerate the gel for 30 minutes
- Rub it on the affected corners of the mouth
- Allow it to dry for about 15 minutes before rinsing off with water
- Do this up to 3 times a day to get rid of cracked lip corners
Aloe Vera has a very bitter taste. Maybe this is just what you need to keep you off from licking your lips. (Kidding)
Honey for Cracked Corners of the Mouth
It is an antibacterial that works very well with lip cracks. The antibacterial properties treat the cracked lip corners. It also preserves moisture which is an essential part of treatment.
Apply coconut oil is one of the best remedies for cracked lip corners. It is not heavy. Use it to moisturize your lips especially if they are prone to cracking in the winters.
- Apply olive oil, cocoa butter, nutmeg oil or vitamin E oil
- Shea butter, almond oil, and milk cream are old age remedies for healthy skin including the lips
- A mixture of lemon juice, castor oil and glycerin is a good home remedy for cracked lip corners
- Apply clarified natural butter for smooth healthy lip corners
- Soothe the irritated skin with a cold slice of cucumber
- Rose water has soothing properties and heals cracked lip corners fast
How to Prevent Cracked Lip Corners
- If you are prone to dry skin and lips, use a humidifier to add moisture to the air
- Guard your lips with a scarf when there are harsh winds
- Use balms with sunscreen on your lips
- Take extra care if you are wearing braces- as advised by your dentist
Treatment for cracked lip corners takes these dimensions
Identify and treat the potential reservoirs of infection inside the mouth. Such as poorly fitting dentures, missing teeth and/or poor oral hygiene. This may also be seen in some types of lip piercings.
Check for a reduced vertical dimension of the lower face. There may be a need to increase this dimension to prevent overclosure of the mouth. This may be done through the fitting for new dentures or surgical reconstruction to restore the normal facial contour.
Improvement of skin quality to get rid of lip wrinkles and marionette lines associated with cracked lip corners. Done through proper skin care, laser resurfacing and facial fillers to fill out wrinkle lines.
Local treatment of the lesion themselves. Depending on the cause, application of topical antifungal, antibacterial or corticosteroids, singly or in combination may be necessary.
In none of the remedies above seem to work, then, further investigations are done to for underlying causes such as nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune disorders or chronic diseases. Treatment is then given depending on the cause.