Natural Home Remedies for Angular Cheilitis (Cracked Corners of the Mouth)
Angular cheilitis is an inflammation of one or both corners of the mouth. The lips, or even the skin of the face that border the lips, crack, turn red, and become itchy and swollen. In the worst cases, there is a discharge of pus as well.
Many people experience mild versions of this condition without even knowing what it is called. They just sit it out and wait until it passes. But there are several things you can do to alleviate the problem naturally.
Causes of Angular Cheilitis
Before detailing some effective remedies, it is helpful to understand the causes so that you know in which areas to focus your interventions.
- Habits or conditions that keep the corners of the mouth moist such as chronic lip licking
- Drooling (which often happens during the night) – Saliva contains digestive enzymes, which may have a degree of digestive action on tissues if they are left in contact
- Injured lips
- Excessive mouth washing
- Poorly fitted dentures, and large braces can all cause it. Yeast, fungi, and bacteria then live in, and infect, the sores caused by the dentures or braces. They also congregate in moist areas. Candida, a yeast-like parasitic fungus, can be found in almost all the sores.
Other causes include contact with a substance to which you are allergic, dermatitis (skin infection), dry skin, anemia, and other nutritional deficiencies.
If it is caused by the herpes virus, it looks and behaves like normal cold sores and should be treated as such. You can read my article about the best natural remedies for cold sores.
Natural Remedies for Angular Cheilitis
Consume Iron and B Complex Vitamins
Several different nutritional deficiencies of vitamins or minerals have been linked to Angular Cheilitis. It is thought that in about 25% of people with Angular Cheilitis, iron deficiency or deficiency of B vitamins are involved. I also mentioned in the past that iron and B complex vitamins are two of the 5 essential nutrients you may be missing from your diet.
If you have symptoms such as:
- Tongue infections (see what your tongue can tell you about your health)
- Skin infections
- Deformed nails (there are 11 health warnings your fingernails may be sending)
- Hair loss
then the condition is probably caused by nutritional deficiencies. Ensure that you consume enough iron and B complex vitamins, which will clear up the inflammation. At the beginning you can use nutritional supplements, but you must ultimately figure out which nutritional sources are missing from your diet.
For an iron deficiency you can try eating some red meat and liver which will give you the heme type of iron (which is the easiest to absorb), but other vegan sources exist if this is your preference, such as:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Fermented soy products
- Raw or only slightly cooked spinach
If you think a lack of B vitamins is the root cause for you, then try eating more organic poultry, wild fish, beans, papayas, oranges, and eggs.
Remove the Allergen or Injurer
You must remove the substance to which you are allergic or the device that is injuring your skin. Without doing so, the sores will never be truly cured.
Many people are allergic to chemicals in lip balm, lipstick, sunscreen, and mouthwash and often overlook these simple products as a cause.
If your skin is damaged by braces or dentures, you need to have the devices refitted.
Lemongrass Oil Vapor
Candida can be detected in 93% of angular cheilitis lesions and scientists have discovered that lemongrass oil is particularly effective against fungi and candida. It can, therefore, work well as a treatment for angular cheilitis. The most effective form is the vapor, not the oil itself.1
It is worth remembering that bacteria, fungi, and yeast grow best in environments that range from mildly acidic to neutral on the pH chart. Accordingly, any strong alkali or acid can kill them. As you are looking for a substance that can soothe and moisturize your skin while killing these organisms, however, it is best to avoid strong substances that will ultimately aggravate the problem. That is why it is important to avoid applying lemongrass oil directly to your mouth.
- Mix a few drops of lemon grass oil in a cup of water.
- Heat the oil on the stove in a pot.
- Keep it below boiling point to avoid burning yourself.
- Lean over it for a few minutes so that the vapor contacts your lips.
Another option is to use a diffuser like this Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser which you can also use with my other essential oil recipes.
Eucalyptus and peppermint oil also work against candida and other fungi, but their effects are not as strong as those of lemongrass oil.
Tea Tree Oil
Many studies have found tea tree oil to be effective against fungi, including against around 100 strains of candida.2 To avoid irritating your skin even further, it is important to dilute the oil with a carrier oil (such as jojoba oil or coconut oil).3 Skin irritation is a cause of angular cheilitis, so a strong concentration of tea tree oil will quickly worsen the condition.
Another reason why tea tree works so well is its anti-inflammatory properties. Attacking the inflammation and the fungus infection together makes it a particularly effective treatment for angular cheilitis.
Apply it three times a day and wash it off after about an hour to prevent aggravation of the sores.
If you are interested to learn more about essential oils you can find useful information in my e-bookMagical Aromatherapy. This e-book will help you to discover the power of essential oils and the most effective ways to use them.
Aloe Vera Gel
You’ve probably heard about the benefits of aloe vera for your skin. It is effective against fungi, against candida specifically, 4 and against a wide range of bacteria.5 That is why it is so common in tooth paste and mouth washes. Like tea tree, it is a natural anti-inflammatory agent too.
If your angular cheilitis is caused by the herpes virus, aloe vera is a good option for a natural treatment option here, as it has antiviral properties.6 You can spot this by examining the sores. If they look like normal cold sores, the herpes virus is probably at the bottom of it.
To prevent skin irritation, dilute it first with either water or a carrier oil and strengthen the solution gradually to ensure that it does not burn your skin. It is generally gentler than tea tree, so dilution may not be necessary. You may also want to wash it off after an hour after use, and applying it three times a day should be sufficient.
You can also follow my recipe to for a healing coconut oil and aloe vera gel lotion. Aloe vera is a common medicinal herb and is useful for other ailments. If you want to learn more about aloe vera as well as other herbs, you can find more useful information in my e-book the Herbal Remedies Guide. This guide will teach you how to treat common ailments using herbs.
Coconut oil seems to be on the list of interventions against most ailments these days, and angular cheilitis is no exception. Its most obvious benefit is its ability to moisten the dry, cracked skin, but it goes much further than that.
Coconut oil has been tested to be an effective antidote to a couple of strains of candida.10 Furthermore, in a study where researchers applied it to patients with general dermatitis, it cleared up 95% of them.11Comparatively, authors found that olive oil could only heal 40% of cases.
While most people instinctively use olive oil (which is a natural medicine by itself) as a carrier oil to dilute strong essential oils, this suggests that coconut oil is a better carrier oil, as well as a good solution on its own.
If your angular cheilitis is caused by general dermatitis, you should try it with lemongrass vapour, tea tree oil, or aloe vera. Apply the latter two three times a day, washing them off after an hour. Apply and leave coconut oil on the sores for the rest of the day and night. If you have general dermatitis, you probably have dry infected patches of skin all over your body that can benefit from the coconut oil treatment too.
Many physicians are increasingly applying honey to wound dressings, as some studies show its antibacterial and antifungal effects to be similar to those of traditional surgical dressings.7 In fact, medical laboratories now extract the active ingredients, or polyphenols, from honey to make stronger, medical-grade honey to treat wounds.8
Most types of raw honey seem to work, but Manuka honey has been extensively tested against a variety of fungi and candida strains.9 Just apply it to the sores several times a day until they clear up.
Honey is also one of the ingredients in my DIY healing face masks. Using honey, and not just for eating, is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health.
A Two Pronged Approach to Treatment for Angular Cheilitis
In general, when looking to treat your angular cheilitis naturally, your best bet is to combine a good antibacterial and antifungal substance with a good moisturizer. Whatever your preferred essential oil, coconut oil should almost certainly be the moisturizer because of its other useful properties.