Cracks in the corners of your mouth can turn eating, drinking or smiling into a painful chore. This inflammatory condition, called angular chelitis, doesn't have one single cause. The cracks typically go away on their own, but you can help them heal faster by treating your lips with a home remedy.
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Causes of Cracked Lips
Angular chelitis and chapped lips are commonly caused by dry, cold weather. Sometimes, though, the cracks can be a symptom of a health condition. Certain products, such as lipstick or toothpaste, can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Angular chelitis is also an indicator of B-vitamin deficiencies, anemia caused by iron deficiency or a yeast, strep or staph infection. If the cracks or sores on your lips become more painful or swollen after a week of home treatment, see a doctor for care. A doctor may need to treat the problem with an antibiotic or antifungal medication. In these cases, home remedies can ease irritation and pain, but they're unlikely to make the problem go away.
Lip balms and ointments that contain vitamin E, lanolin and shea butter soothe painful cracks and sores. If you don't have any lip balm, petroleum jelly also works. Avoid products that contain eucalyptus, cinnamon, menthol or camphor -- they can make irritation worse. Honey lubricates lips and speeds up healing. Smear a dab of honey on cracked lips before bed and then let your skin absorb it overnight. Yogurt that contains live active cultures, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, may help as well. Apply some plain yogurt to the cracked area. Then put a spoonful in your mouth and swish it around before swallowing in case your cracks are caused by yeast.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Columbia University: The Corners of My Mouth Are Cracking Up
- The Dr. Oz Show: The Cure for Chapped Lips
- Natural Remedies: Nondrug Healing Strategies That Work Best; Rodale
- ABC News: 6 Natural Cures for Dry Skin
- Real Simple: Best Lip Balms for Winter
- Mother Earth Living: 5 Best Natural Lip Balms: Mother Earth Living Editors’ Pick