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Home Remedies for Cracks in the Corner of Mouth (Perlèche)

By Max. D Gray. Updated: November 2, 2017
Home Remedies for Cracks in the Corner of Mouth (Perlèche)

If you have cracks or inflammation on any part of your lips, you will know how irritating they can be. Eating certain foods or being out in inclement weather can exacerbate the situation, causing pain and distraction. When these cracks or sores appear in the corners of our lips, it can be particularly bothersome. This is because eating, speaking or any reason to open our mouths can cause them to be agitated. These sores, known as angular cheilitis or perlèche, might disappear after a day or two, but sometimes they need a little help. That is why oneHOWTO brings you these home remedies for cracks in the corner of your mouth (perlèche).

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What is perlèche or angular cheilitis

Cheilitis, as a general term, refers to inflammation of the lips. Angular cheilitis is the same condition, except it is located to the corners of the mouth. The cracks themselves (known as fissures), are not the main symptom. They are a secondary symptom which results from the initial inflammation, usually caused by the movement of the mouth agitating the already damaged skin.

There are various causes which are not always easily identifiable. While it is "associated with the wearing of removeable dentures"[1], angular cheilitis appears to have more to do with infection that with being endentulous (the state of being without teeth). It is also known as cheilosis or stomatitis, the former referring to a pathological condition and the latter specifically referring to inflammation.

The condition manifests itself in different ways. If you see cracks, they can be open fissures which look tender, but do not ooze. There may be a crusty appearance or it will simply be red and swollen without the skin having broken. These appearances depend on the type of infection.

Causes of perlèche or angular cheilitis

Infection:

The most likely cause for perlèche is an infection and the "most common oral fungal infection is caused by the yeast Candida"[2]. This is the same culprit for yeast infections which may occur on other parts of the body, like balanitis in males or thrush in females. "Angular cheilitis is seen more frequently in women than in men"[3], however, nearly "70 percent of all people are affected by Candida"[4] at some point in their lives.

This may make Candida sound like the fungal boogeyman, but it is actually believed to be part of our natural digestive cycle. It is more significantly a problem when there is an overgrowth of the condition, which can lead to fungal infections in the corners of our lips, similar to how foot fungus can get in between toes. This is because the Candida fungus collects at the corner of the mouth, especially if you don't wash regularly.

Another type of infection is a bacterial infection caused by staphylococcus aureus and/or ß-hemolytic streptococci. These are two are both common infections in the body, but can be minor or acute depending on the strain and type of infection. More likely, there will be a combination of both fungal and bacterial infections.

Cold sores are commonly misconstrued for angular cheilitis. While the symptoms and appearance might be very similar, they are due to herpes simplex, not perèleche. The importance of the distinction is in how they are treated. You can read our article if you want to know more about how to get rid of cold sores.

Skin irritation:

This is another common cause of perlèche, often simply from the movement of the corner of the mouth. This can lead to cracks appearing due to friction. This doesn't mean that if you are a very chatty person you're more likely to get cheilitis.

More commonly, it will be due to the presence of saliva. Whether it is the shape of your mouth or due to tooth loss, some people find that saliva will collect at the sides of the mouth. This saliva has enzymes which are there to help break down food while chewing. Although relatively mild, if saliva collects at the corner of the mouth, it can cause irritation and cracks to occur. This is especially the case in people with drooling issues.

Thumb sucking, lip biting (lip smacking), chewing gum and even not flossing properly can cause this skin irritation leading to corner mouth infections. People who have lost teeth are particularly at risk of angular cheilitis thanks to the skin being looser.

Lack of nutrition

Perlèche can also be caused by nutritional deficiencies, making it a secondary affect of this condition and a sign for doctors to help diagnose. It is particularly a result of both iron and B vitamin deficiencies. However, zinc deficiency and general malnutrition can also occur[5].

Angular cheilitis can also occur due to a reaction to certain drugs or medication or even allergies to cosmetic products put onto the lips such as lip balm, lipstick or skin products. Even toothpaste can cause it if you have a particular sensitivity to it.

Home Remedies for Cracks in the Corner of Mouth (Perlèche) - Causes of perlèche or angular cheilitis

Perlèche home remedies

There are a number of methods of perlèche treatment, but if you have severe or chronic cases, a doctor's advice should be sought.

Aloe vera

One of the most effective home remedies, aloe vera has moisturizing and antibacterial properties which can help reduce symptoms of perlèche. You just have to remove the pulp from the plant and apply it at least 3 times a day in the affected area. Its also recommended that the last application is at night so that it acts while you sleep. Remember to use fresh aloe vera and not just a cream with aloe vera in it. This may not be digestible and shouldn't be put near the mouth.

Rosehip oil

Another home remedy for soothing cracks caused by corner mouth infections is rosehip oil. It is known for its moisturizing propertiesand for aiding proper healing of the skin. It is advisable to apply a few drops of oil 3 times a day on the affected area, especially at the beginning of the infection for maximum effectiveness. You can continue using this treatment, but if you don't see results in a few days, perhaps another method should be implemented.

Home Remedies for Cracks in the Corner of Mouth (Perlèche) - Perlèche home remedies

Lemon

Another solution to eliminate the bacteria that causes perlèche and to limit its appearance is lemon, a food known for its antibacterial properties. Although it can sting at first, applying lemon on the injury can help it heal. It is ill-advised to put pure lemon juice directly onto the skin. Instead, use freshly squeezed lemon juice mixed with honey to help soothe the corners of the mouth and reduce cracks. Fresh is better as it will have a higher vitamin C content.

It's best to try applying the lemon at night or when you're sure you will not be exposed to the sun, as lemon can cause skin spots while you are in the sun.

Home Remedies for Cracks in the Corner of Mouth (Perlèche) - Lemon

Iodized salt

For its antibacterial and healing properties, iodized salt is a good home remedy for perlèche, besides being a cheap and easy alternative. Make a paste with half a teaspoon of salt and a few drops of water and apply on the cold sore for 10 minutes 3 times a day.

Home Remedies for Cracks in the Corner of Mouth (Perlèche) - Iodized salt

Coconut oil

According to the International Journal of Life Sciences research, coconut oil is a "safe solution preventing dryness and flaking of skin"[6]. If you rub a little onto the corners of your mouth, it will help keep them lubricated as well as protecting from further infection. One of the reasons home remedies are great for perlèche is that these are often made from all natural ingredients. Some are consumable, like coconut oil, so you don't need to worry about putting toxic chemicals around your mouth.

Home Remedies for Cracks in the Corner of Mouth (Perlèche) - Coconut oil

Yogurt

With its natural probiotic qualities and its soothing effect due to its consistency, yogurt is a great way to treat cracks in the corners of your mouth. It won't sting, nor will it be difficult to find. Ideally, enhance the yogurt with the antibacterial power of honey and mix 2 parts yogurt to one part honey. Leave on the skin the times you feel like it is in pain for about 10 minutes. It might be hard to not lick the delicious yogurt off, but you can reward yourself with a mouthful of your all natural mixture after this time.

Tea tree oil

Perfect with its antifungal and antibacterial properties, tea tree oil is an incredible home remedy to treat angular cheilitis. This way it can counterbalance Candida fungal infections as well a bacterial staph infections. It may have a little bit of a sting in its essential oil form, so dilute the tea tree oil first with water in a ratio of 1:3 tea tree oil to water.

These home remedies to treat lip inflammation and cracks in the mouth are designed to help when you are suffering a mild attack of angular cheilitis. However, they are not a replacement for a professional opinion from a physician.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Home Remedies for Cracks in the Corner of Mouth (Perlèche), we recommend you visit our Diseases & secondary effects category.

References

1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4697237/

2 http://superiorsites3.com/NNS95OralYeastInfections.htm

3 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4697237/

4 https://bodyecology.com/articles/unknown_health_epidemic.php

5 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3579131

6 https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Gambhirsinh_Vala2/publication/280574942_Medicinal_Benefits_of_Coconut_Oil_A_Review_paper/links/55bb561b08ae092e965ed871/Medicinal-Benefits-of-Coconut-Oil-A-Review-paper.pdf

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