How to Treat Angular Cheilitis (Cracked Corners of the Mouth)

Natural Home Remedies for Angular Cheilitis (Cracked Corners of the Mouth)

Angular cheilitis is a lip infection which causes inflammation and blisters of one or both corners of the mouth. When the lips, or even the skin of the face that border the lips become infected they crack, turn red, and become itchy and swollen. In the worst cases, angular cheilitis can cause a discharge of pus and some people experience bleeding from the cracked skin.

The condition is also called angular stomatitis. Some also refer to angular cheilitis as perlèche if the cause is licking your lips too often. Because angular cheilitis causes pain and discomfort, it can affect how wide a person can open his mouth and interfere with his or her eating habits.

Many people experience mild versions of angular cheilitis 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 inflammation and soreness in the corners of your mouth naturally.

Causes of Angular Cheilitis

Before detailing some effective home remedies that are useful in treating angular cheilitis, it is helpful to understand the reasons why chapping and blistering occurs at the corner of your mouth. This can help you to find out the best home remedy to treat angular cheilitis.

Here are some of the causes of angular cheilitis:

Drooling (which often happens during the night) – Saliva contains digestive enzymes, which may have a degree of digestive action on tissues and this can damage your lips and makes it easier for the bacteria/fungus to spread and reproduce.

Injured lips makes it easier for the bacteria/fungus to spread and reproduce and cause painful sores.

Excessive mouth washing and aggressive use of dental floss can also contribute to the development of angular cheilitis.

Poorly fitted dentures, and large braces can all cause angular cheilitis because they can foster infections in your mouth. Poorly fitting dentures allow yeast, fungi, and bacteria, and other microorganisms to get under them, along with food particles to feed them. When these infections thrive, they can spread outside your mouth as well, causing unattractive and uncomfortable sores to the corner of your mouth.

Habits or conditions that keep the corners of the mouth moist such as chronic lip licking can make the condition worse.

Other causes of angular cheilitis include contact with a substance to which you are allergic, dermatitis (skin infection), dry skin, anemia, and other nutritional deficiencies.

If the chapping in the corners of your mouth is caused by the herpes virus and it looks and behaves like normal cold sores then you should treat it as such. You can read my article about the best natural remedies for cold sores (fever blisters).

Natural Remedies for Treating 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:

Then the sores on the corners of your mouth are probably caused by nutritional deficiencies.

To help cure angular cheilitis and get rid of its symptoms, ensure that you consume enough foods containing enough iron and B complex vitamins. Having the proper amount of nutrients in your diet can help to prevent sores developing in the corners of your lips. 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 right 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
  • Beans
  • Fermented soy products
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Raw or only slightly cooked spinach

If you think a lack of B vitamins is the root cause of your angular cheilitis, then try eating more organic poultry, wild fish, beans, papayas, oranges, and eggs.

Remove the Allergen or Injurer

The only way to get rid of angular cheilitis that is caused by an allergic reaction is to remove the substance to which you are allergic or the device that is injuring your skin. Without doing so, the painful sores on your lips 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 of their lip irritation.

If your skin is damaged by braces or dentures, you need to have the devices refitted so that they don’t injure the sensitive and delicate skin around your lips.

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 natural treatment for angular cheilitis. The most effective way to use lemongrass for treating a candida infection on your lips is in its vapor form, 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, you need to avoid strong substances that will ultimately aggravate the irritation in the corners of your mouth.

Use the healing power of lemongrass to help quickly treat the infection causing angular cheilitis. This is what you should do to use lemongrass vapors to help treat your condition:

  • Mix a few drops of lemongrass 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 and the properties of lemongrass oil kill off the yeast infection which causes angular cheilitis.

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

Tea tree oil is an effective home remedy for curing angular cheilitis. Many studies have found tea tree oil to be an effective antifungal agent which is effective against around 100 strains of candida.2 To avoid irritating the delicate skin at the corners of your lips even further, it is important to dilute tea tree 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 for treating angular cheilitis is its anti-inflammatory properties. Attacking the inflammation and the fungus infection together makes it a particularly effective treatment for angular cheilitis.

To make a home remedy for angular cheilitis using tea tree oil, you should mix 2-3 drops of tea tree oil with 1 tbsp. coconut oil. Apply the tea tree remedy three times a day to your chapped lips and wash it off after about an hour to prevent aggravation of the sores. Repeat this every day until the symptoms of angular cheilitis are gone completely.

If you are interested to learn more about essential oils, you can find useful information in my e-book Magical 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 many health 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 toothpaste and mouthwashes commonly include aloe vera for its antifungal properties. Like tea tree, aloe vera is also a natural anti-inflammatory agent.

If your angular cheilitis is caused by the herpes virus, aloe vera is a good option to use as a natural home remedy because of its strong antiviral properties.6 You can spot if the infection at the corners of your mouth is caused by a viral infection by examining the sores. If they look like normal cold sores, the herpes virus is probably the root cause of inflamed, blistered skin on your lips.

Apply pure aloe vera 2-3 times a day until the infection is cured. Leave the aloe vera on for about an hour each time before rinsing off with warm water. It will also help to moisturize the dry and damaged skin on the corner of the mouth.

You can also follow my recipe 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.

Virgin coconut Oil

Virgin coconut oil seems to be on the list of interventions against most ailments these days, and angular cheilitis is no exception. The most obvious benefit of coconut oil is its ability to moisten and soothe the dry, cracked skin on your lips. But, the benefit of using coconut oil as a natural angular cheilitis treatment goes much further than that.

Virgin 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 coconut oil to patients with general dermatitis, it cleared the symptoms of dry, scaly skin in 95% of them.11 Comparatively, 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, the study suggests that coconut oil is a better carrier oil because of its antimicrobial properties. Virgin coconut oil is so effective as a natural remedy for many skin conditions that it can be used on it its own.

The best way to get rid of your angular cheilitis that is caused by general dermatitis is to first of all treat it with lemongrass vapor, tea tree oil, or aloe vera. The tea tree oil and aloe vera home remedies should be applied 2-3 times a day, then wash them off after an hour. After you have done that, apply and leave virgin coconut oil on the sensitive sores for the rest of the day and night to speed up the healing process and relieve the pain and inflammation caused by angular cheilitis.

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. For more information read my ultimate guide about the best natural cures for eczema.


You can use honey as a natural home remedy for treating angular cheilitis. Honey contains many beneficial active properties which can help to kill infection in the sensitive sores on your lips and help the blisters to heal quicker.

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 contain antimicrobial properties that can help heal blistered and damaged skin. However, Manuka honey has been extensively tested against a variety of fungi and candida strains so it may be a better option for healing angular cheilitis.9

To use honey to soothe the crusty sores on your lips and get rid of the infection that is causing your angular cheilitis, apply raw honey directly on your cracked lips several times a day. Do this daily until you no longer have sores on the edges of your mouth.

Honey is also one of the ingredients in many face masks, and I have an article containing recipes of 10 healing honey 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.

Baking Soda for Angular Cheilitis

You can also use the antibacterial properties of baking soda as an excellent natural remedy to treat angular cheilitis and relieve its symptoms faster.

Studies carried out by a group of dental research scientists found that baking soda effectively killed off the Streptococcus strain of bacteria in mouth infections.12

It is very easy to use baking soda to heal the sores caused by angular cheilitis. All you need to do is mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a little water to form a thick paste. Apply the remedy 2-3 times a day to the corner of your mouth to kill off any infection that is causing sores on your lips. Leave the baking soda paste for 10-15 minutes before rinsing off. After removing the baking soda paste, moisturize the affected area with a little bit of virgin coconut oil. Repeat the process daily to get rid of the discomfort and irritation caused by infected sores on your lips.

Is Angular Cheilitis Contagious?

In most cases angular cheilitis isn’t contagious and you can’t transmit it by kissing or other physical contact.

However, it is important to understand the reason why you have sores at the corner of your mouth. For example, the cold sore virus HSV-1 is highly contagious and if that is the reason for blistering at the corners of your lips then you should avoid kissing or sharing eating utensils. The same is true if you have a bacterial infection in the angular cheilitis sores.

But, conditions like dermatitis, yeast infections, or allergic reactions (the common causes of angular cheilitis) aren’t contagious.

Angular Cheilitis vs Cold Sore

Angular cheilitis and cold sores can both cause blistering on the corner of the mouth and on the lips. However, cold sores are always caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1) whereas there are a number of reasons for angular cheilitis that causes cracks.

There are a number of other ways to tell the difference between angular cheilitis and cold sores. Here are the most common:

Length of time. Angular cheilitis can last for a few weeks to even many years. Cold sores tend to last a maximum of 2-3 weeks depending on how quickly you start to treat a cold sore outbreak.

Location on lips. The sores and blisters caused by angular cheilitis always occur at one or both corners of the mouth. Cold sore blisters can appear anywhere on the lips and even cause blisters inside the mouth.

How they start. The first symptoms of angular cheilitis are usually dry, cracked skin at the edges of the mouth. The corners of the mouth will usually be itchy as well. Cold sores usually start off as at tickling sensation on the lips before small blisters appear on the affected area.

Healing process. Angular cheilitis can develop into a chronic condition lasting for many weeks and even months. During this time the lesions at the corners of the mouth will become more painful and the skin could even split causing bleeding. If the wound becomes infected with a bacterial infection, it may start to ooze pus and become red. Cold sores generally become crusty scabs and heal on their own within 2-3 weeks.

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 such as coconut oil, shea butter or cocoa butter. Whatever your preferred essential oil, virgin coconut oil should almost certainly be the moisturizer because of its other useful healing properties.

Read my related articles:
1. Best Home Remedies for Cold Sores (Fever Blisters)
2. Natural Remedies for Dry and Chapped Lips
3. Bumps on lips: Causes and Top Natural Treatments
4. The Top 10 Home Remedies for Sunburned Lips

Article sources:

Healthy and Natural World