Cracked lip corners are small splits, cracks, blisters or scabs that develop on the corners of the mouth. They can be extremely painful especially during and after eating. Get more insights as we explore more on the causes, symptoms and how to get rid of cracked or split corners of lips. 

Symptoms of cracked Lips

Causes of cracked lips

Cracked lip corners

This condition is also known as angular cheilitis, it causes red and swollen splits at the corners of lips. It is a common condition that affects many people. Deep splits can be quite bothersome, it may cause pain and irritation when eating.

Signs and symptoms vary depending on the cause. The common symptoms you are likely to experience are soreness and irritation. Others include:

  • Small splits, cracks or blisters at the corners of the mouth.
  • Pain or some discomfort especially when opening the mouth wide.
  • Redness in one or both corners of the mouth.
  • Swelling or puffiness.
  • Itchiness or a burning sensation.
  • Bleeding especially after eating or opening the mouth wide.
  • Crusty blisters.
  • Sores in lip corners.
  • Stiffness when opening the mouth.

Strong irritation can make it uncomfortable to eat. You might also have a bad taste in the mouth. These symptoms may persist for several months or up to a year when left untreated.

Fortunately, they can disappear within 7 to 14 days when treated. Severe symptoms may take a beat longer to heal.

Cracked Lip Corners Causes

Angular cheilitis is commonly associated with fungal condition although it may also result from various causes. Some of them include:

  1. Allergic Reaction

Body reaction to allergens found in foods and lip care products can cause dry, cracked or split mouth corners. The cracks may appear immediately or shortly after encountering an allergen.

An allergic reaction from food may be accompanied by other symptoms such as rash, redness, and blisters around the mouth.

  1. Overexposure to Sunrays

Do you spend most of your time outdoors? Exposing your lips to sunrays without applying a lip balm with SPF can lead to a sunburn. Sunburned lips are characterized by various that include cracked lips, blistering, and peeling. Harmful ultraviolet rays damage skin and can also cause cancer.

  1. Iron or Zinc Deficiency

Iron or zinc deficiency in your body may result from gastrointestinal disorders or intestinal surgery that prevent the absorption. Deficiency of these nutrients may cause chapped lips among other symptoms. To boost iron and zinc in your body, increase the intake of eggs, poultry, beef, liver, milk, yogurt, beans, peas, and mushroom.

  1. Dehydration

Dehydration is the common cause of cracks in the corners of your lips. Dry mouth increases the risk of developing other oral conditions such as mouth infections and dental diseases. Taking at least 8 glasses of water can help to remedy this conditions.

  1. Ill-fitting Dentures

Using ill-fitting dentures or incorrect bite and braces can disrupt the normal flow of saliva in your mouth. This can cause some saliva to accumulate at the corners of your lips.

A constant presence of saliva on the lips may change the microflora of the affected areas and hence promoting inflammations and increased risk of infection.

  1. Poor Diet

It is important to have a balanced diet daily since it helps to supply your body with necessary nutrients. Taking a diet that is low in vitamins, iron, and zinc can lead to deficiency symptoms such as chapped and cracked lip.

  1. Viral or Bacterial Infections

Bacterial infections such as canker sores and impetigo can cause small blisters to develop at the corner of your lips. On the other hand, viral infections such as cold sore can also result in the same problem.

Cold sore causes itching, blistering, oozing and crusting on the lips. It is a highly contagious infection that is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1.

  1. Autoimmune Disorders

Different autoimmune disorders such as Sjogren’s syndrome, Celiac disease, and Crohn’s disease are characterized by various symptoms such as dry lips and mouth and cracks at the corners of the mouth. These diseases cause excessive dehydration and hence causing the above symptoms.

  1. Hypovitaminosis

Deficiency of vitamin A, B, and E in your body can result in various symptoms. Some of them including cracked mouth corners. Although most of the foods that you eat contain these vitamins, they may not be absorbed into your body due to excessive consumption of alcohol and other gastrointestinal disorders.

  1. Hash Environmental Conditions

Unfriendly environmental conditions such as dry wind, cold conditions or hot weather caused chapped lips. Some of the conditions caused dehydration that is characterized by cracked lips. Taking enough water and sheltering yourself during hot weather can help to prevent lips from drying.

  1. Thrush

Thrush is a fungal infection caused by yeast Candida albicans. It causes white patches to appear on different parts of the mouth such as tongue, inside cheeks, gums, and lip corners.

When the white patches are wiped away, the affected area may become red, cracked, and can bleed easily.

  1. Poor Lip Care Habits

Many people think that they can moisture their lips through licking. The truth of the matter is that this habit causes excessive dehydration of your lips. When saliva is applied to the lips, it dries up the moisture to cause drier lips than they were before.

Using poor quality lip care products such as lip balm and moisturizers may contain chemicals that are harmful.

  1. Mouth Breathing

Breathing through your mouth can cause dry and chapped lips. Many people may find themselves breathing through the mouth when having nasal congestions.

Others have a habit of breathing through the mouth while sleeping at night. This is the main reason for waking up with dry lips.

  1. Drug Reactions

Allergic reaction or side effects of certain medications can cause dry and cracked corners of the mouth. Consult your doctor when exhibiting such side effects when taking certain drugs.

According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, other causes of cracked mouth corners include long-term use of antibiotics, use of isotretinoin, and conditions like diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease.

Cracked Lip Corners won’t heal

Cracked lips that won’t heal after using home remedy treatments can be symptomatic to underlying body conditions and deficiency of certain vitamins and other substances.

Some of the conditions include Sjogren’s syndrome, Sickle cell disease, Acute Kidney failure, Sarcoidosis, and gastroenteritis. On the other hand deficiency of vitamin, iron, and zinc can also result to chapped lips.

Cracked Lips While Pregnant

Cracked lips during pregnancy

Severely cracked lips

Women start paying attention to any symptom on their body as soon as they test positive for pregnancy. The common symptom you are likely to experience when pregnant is dry and cracked lips. This symptom is common due to dehydration.

When it happens amid pregnancy, it may be due to deficiency of iron or zinc in your body. During this stage, the fetus is developing rapidly and requires more iron for the development of various parts.

In late pregnancy, there is normally excessive flow of blood in the nasal passages. This may cause you to breathe through the mouth which causes dry lips.

Fortunately, there are various remedies you can use to prevent dry and cracked lips during pregnancy. Some of them include:

  • Drinking plenty of water.
  • Applying a lip moisturizer several times a day.
  • Using humidifiers to keep the air moist in your bedroom during the night.
  • Avoid breathing the mouth.

If your problem persists even after trying the above remedies, don’t hesitate to visit your healthcare provider. Several tests may be done to determine and treat the exact cause of your condition.

Cracks in the Corners of Mouth Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamin B-2 or riboflavin deficiency is the common cause of cracked corners of the mouth. Riboflavin is plenty in various foods we eat that include dairy products, whole grains, and different vegetables like turnip greens, broccoli, spinach, and asparagus.

Vitamin B-2 is also found in grains, seeds, legumes, nuts, nutritional yeast, and meat. This vitamin together with others plays a very important role in your body.

They serve as a coenzyme in various reaction to release energy. Vitamins also help in the growth and development of red blood cells.

Deficiency symptoms can occur when you consume vegetables and other foods that have lost vitamin B-2.  The loss can occur as a result of ultraviolet rays and radiation.

When foods that are rich in these vitamins are stored in glass containers, they are exposed to light and can be destroyed by radiation.

Food containing these vitamins are supposed to be stored in opaque plastic containers that do not allow light to pass through. According to Understanding Nutrition, heat does not destroy vitamin B-2. They are stable in heat when cooking.

Apart from cracked mouth corners, other deficiency symptoms of riboflavin include inflammation in the membrane of eye, mouth, and gastrointestinal tract and sore throat.

The other symptoms include sores on the lips and mouth, swelling of mucous membranes and skin disorders.

There is low chances of deficiency of riboflavin in developed countries like the United States since these vitamins are commonly present in a variety of foods that we eat. However, its deficiency can be avoided by eating a variety of foods that contain Vitamin B-2.

How to Get Rid of Cracked Lip Corners

Some causes of cracked lips normally heal on their own within 1 to 2 weeks. However, to speed up the healing process, there are various home remedies you can use. Most of them keep your lips moisturized while speeding up the healing process.

Cracked mouth corners that result from underlying body conditions may require medical treatment to heal. Such conditions don’t heal easily even after using home remedy treatments. There are various ways you can use to get rid of this condition as explained below.

Treatment

Cracked lips treatment varies depending on the cause. Cracked mouth corners due to dehydration can be treated by taking plenty of water, staying away from hot and windy weather conditions, avoid breathing through the mouth and applying a high-quality lip moisturizer.

Cracked lips brought about by fungal infections such as candida albicans can be treated using antifungal creams like clotrimazole or ketoconazole.

When applied to the affected areas, they weaken the membrane and hence killing the fungi. Other prescribed medicines such as Monistat-Derm, Nizoral, and Vioform-HC can also be used for fungal infections.

Cracked lips due to an allergic reaction can be treated using anti-histamine medications, especially when accompanied by other symptoms such as rash, nausea, vomiting, watery eyes, nose congestion, and headache.

Deficiency of vitamins, iron, and zinc are also known to cause dry and chapped lips. This condition can be treated by taking supplements A, B, and E.

Iron and zinc supplements can also be taken. Increasing amount of vegetables and fruits in your diet can also help to boost vitamins in your body.

Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol and treat gastrointestinal disorders that may be leading to low absorption of vitamins into your body.

Visit your doctor for diagnosis and treatment of underlying body conditions that cause chapped lips. Some of the disorders include diabetes and other autoimmune disorders. The doctor will prescribe the medications to use for treatment of such conditions.

Home Remedy

There are various remedies you can use to soothe irritation caused by cracked mouth corners. They also help to keep your lips moisturized while promoting the healing process. Some of the remedies include the following:

  • Olive Oil

This natural oil help to keep your lips moisturized soothes the irritation as well as promoting the healing process of cracked lips. You simply reapply it 3 times a day, in the morning, afternoon, and evening. You don’t need to wipe it off after some time.

  • Apply Honey

Honey was used from the ancient times in the treatment of various skin conditions and other ailments. It is also found to be effective in the treatment of cracked mouth corners.

It contains anti-inflammatory, soothing, and healing properties that are necessary for cracked lips. It can be applied 2 to 3 times a day.

  • Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera contains moisturizing properties, anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties that are effective for treating various causes of dry and chapped lips.

It also nourishes your lips to make them soft and attractive. It can be applied twice daily, in the morning before heading out and evening before going to bed.

  • Milk Cream

Don’t underestimate the power of milk cream when it comes to healing cracked corners of lips. It keeps your lips hydrated while promoting the healing process of the cracks. You simply apply it gently on the lips 2 to 3 times a day.

  • Lemon Juice

Lemon juice helps to prevent dryness of your lips by balancing the PH levels. It also contains antibacterial properties that help to treat bacterial infections that cause the cracks. Cut a lemon into two pieces and rub it against your lips twice daily. Apply a good quality moisturizer afterward.

  • Glycerin

Glycerin provides a great relief from cracked lips. It keeps them moisturized while promoting the healing process.

Apply a few drops of glycerin on the cracked corners twice daily, in the morning and evening before going to bed. Resist the habit of licking your lips during the recovery period and afterward.

  • Coconut Cream

Coconut oil helps to moisturize cracked mouth corners while speeding up the healing process. It also contains anti-inflammatory properties that alleviate any discomfort associated with the cracks. Take fresh coconut cream and apply it directly to the lips twice daily.

  • Cucumber Slices

Cucumber juice contains anti-inflammatory properties and healing properties that soothers the cracked lips as well as speeding up the healing process.

Cucumber juice is also a natural toner that keeps your skin smooth. You simply rub cucumber slices on the lips twice a day.

Lifestyle Changes

Severely cracked lips

Chapped lips that won’t heal

To heal and prevent cracked lips, there are various lifestyle changes to may be required to make. Some of them include:

  • Keeping yourself hydrated by taking at least 8 glasses of water.
  • Use a high-quality lip balm to keep your lips moisturized.
  • Avoid the habit of licking your lips.
  • Use humidifiers to boost moisture in your house when staying in the dry
  • Avoid going out in cold, hot or windy weather without protection.
  • Boost the intake of vitamins, iron, and zinc. Include more fruits and vegetables in your diet.
  • Avoid foods and other substances that trigger an allergic reaction.
  • Avoid biting or picking on your lips.
  • Breathe through your nose and avoid breathing through the mouth.
  • Consult your doctor about the side effects of prescribed and non-prescribed drugs.

When to See a Doctor

It is important to know when to see a doctor when having cracked lips. Cracked mouth corners that are symptomatic of underlying body conditions may require diagnosis and a medical treatment. Don’t hesitate to visit your doctor when having the following symptoms:

  • Persistent chapping that won’t heal easily despite treatment.
  • Very painful cracks on your lips.
  • Swelling of the lips.
  • Drainage from the cracks.
  • Painful sores that develop on the lips or nearby.

The doctor may use a physical examination or lab test results to determine the cause of your condition. He or she will, therefore, prescribe the required medication to treat the underlying condition.

Further Sources and References:

  1. Angular Cheilitis: https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/angular-cheilitis#1
  2. Mouth Problems, non-injury: https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/tc/mouth-problems-noninjury-topic-overview#1
  3. 17 Home Remedies to Soothe Cracked Mouth Corners: https://www.morphemeremedies.com/17-home-remedies-to-soothe-cracked-mouth-corner/
  4. Cracked corners of the lips: https://www.morphemeremedies.com/17-home-remedies-to-soothe-cracked-mouth-corner/
  5. How to get rid of split lips and cracked corners: https://www.yogawiz.com/blog/home-remedies/home-remedy-split-dry-skin-lips-cracked-corners-mouth.html
  6. How to get rid of painful cracked lips: https://www.wikihow.com/Get-Rid-of-Painful-Cracked-Lips