Cracked Corners of Mouth

Cracked mouth corners are quite painful and the discomfort aggravates while opening and closing the mouth. The sides of the mouth appear swollen and red. The presence of unsightly cracks makes it difficult to use cosmetic products and attend social gatherings. However, these cracked lips can be easily treated with simple home remedies that guarantee immediate relief.

Causes

Inadequate Water Intake and Poor Diet
People who consume less water and follow a diet, devoid of essential vitamins and minerals are likely to show cracked lip corners. Deficiency of vitamin B2, zinc and iron can lead to lips cracking at the corners.

Weather
In harsh weather, lips lose their moisture and become dry. No wonder, people in winter and summer season tend to develop cracks at the sides of the mouth.

Infections
Also referred to as angular cheilitis, this is a fungal or a bacterial infection that strikes the corners of the lip area. Cracks and lesions forming at the sides of the mouth is the most common symptom of this infection.

Oral Herpes
Contracting herpes infection can also cause cracks at the corners of the lips. Although herpes virus usually affects the genital areas, many times its symptoms are noticed at the corners of the mouth, indicating oral herpes. Generally, the cracks are observed at one side of the mouth.

Skin Irritants
The toothpaste that you are using everyday can also be the culprit behind cracking of lip corners. Lips, especially the corners often get exposed to toothpaste foam while brushing. Toothpaste ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate are known to irritate the lips. So, avoiding toothpaste that contain these skin irritants may help to resolve the issue.

Breathing Through Mouth
Mouth breathing is yet another reason why cracks develop at the sides of the mouth. The continuous flow of air in and out of mouth during breathing can make the lips excessively dry and chapped. People sleeping at night with mouth open often notice cracked lip corners in the morning.

Wrong Habits
The habit of licking the lips frequently leads to build up of moisture at the corners of the mouth. As a result, these areas of the mouth become infection breeding sites. No wonder, cracks eventually develop at the corners of the mouth. The habit of biting the corners of the lips often, causes them to crack. Poorly fitting dentures or ignoring to clean the dentures everyday compromises oral health. This may also cause an infection and eventually lead to lip corners being cut.

Treatment
Apart from drinking plenty of water and following a healthy diet, patients may benefit by using some common remedies, given below:

Prescription Creams
Topical antifungal ointments may be prescribed for fungal angular cheilitis. If herpes simplex virus is the reason for cracked corners, topical antivirals such as acyclovir cream may be recommended. These medications stop the proliferation of virus, which helps to shorten the duration of herpes outbreak.

Petroleum Jelly
Regularly applying petroleum jelly just before hitting the sack can wok wonders to get rid of cracks formed at the corners of the mouth. It is tried and tested remedy to soothe chapped corners of the mouth. Avoid using Carmex cream because it can dry the mouth and aggravate the problem.

Aloe Vera
In order to reduce the pain associated with cracked dry lips, use of aloe vera is a good option. One can apply aloe vera gel or fresh pulp of aloe vera regularly to eliminate cracked corners of the mouth.

Margosa Leaves Powder
Another effective way to treat angular cheilitis is by using margosa leaves powder. Just apply this powder on the affected area and you will notice amazing results within a few days. Application of margosa leaf extracts is well-known remedy for chapped lips and mouth corners.

Olive Oil
Instead of purchasing costly lip balms, one can go for extra virgin olive oil to soothe the cracks. This home remedy has been commonly used to keep chapped lips at bay. Olive oil not only softens the lips but also prevents them from drying out.

Cucumber Juice
Simply applying cucumber juice at cracked sites of the lips can work wonders to soothe pain and heal the condition. Gently, rubbing a fresh slice of cucumber on the split lip corners can also help to alleviate discomfort.

Diet
Avoid intake of spicy foods, sugary items and caffeinated beverages if you are serious about improving your dry cracked mouth. Sugar and caffeine can make the lips dry, whereas spicy meals could trigger a burning sensation around the mouth and exacerbate the discomfort associated with split corners at the lips.

Honey
Chronically cracked corners of the lips may indicate a bacterial infection and a natural remedy would be to apply honey. Honey displays antibacterial properties and hence its application can help to get rid of cracks and make the lips soft and supple.

Vitamin E Oil
Use of pure vitamin E oil is highly beneficial to get rid of these annoying cracks. Vitamin E oil acts as a great moisturizer and applying it several times a day can help eliminate dryness associated with lips.

Dermatologists often advice to apply unflavored lipsticks to be on the safer side. However, avoiding usage of lipsticks, until the cracks heal completely, would be a better option.

Dry Skin Patches

Treatment for dry skin patches
With the onset of winters, experiencing dry skin is something that is not at all unusual. During winters, the skin loses moisture faster than any other time of the year. However, dry skin patches, or xerosis as it is medically known, can occur in any other season in case of people affected by other related skin conditions. The skin needs adequate moisture to stay smooth and supple. Hence, when sebum levels drop, the skin turns dry, flaky, and sensitive. If you are suffering from dry skin, your skin might feel tight and it can be accompanied by itching and redness.

Healthy skin is very important, as it is the body’s first defense against all infections. Skin that is dry, scaly, or flaky is at a greater risk of being infected with bacteria. This is because, as we scratch dry, itching skin, small microscopic tears develop on the skin, which facilitates the entrance of germs, which in turn leads to an infection. The occurrence of dry patches on skin is not restricted to a specific part of our body. They can appear on any part of the body, and the legs and arms are the most susceptible. Dry skin patches on the neck or face could become a cause of cosmetic concern.

Factors Causing Dryness in the Skin

It is not just environmental conditions that contribute to low sebum secretion. Many skin-related conditions including infections, as well as some diseases like diabetes and hypothyroidism can cause the skin to become dry, flaky, or patchy. Some of the reasons for the appearance of dry patches on the body have been listed below.

Environmental Causes

Seasonal Changes: The low or high levels of moisture in the environment can make the skin feel dry. This is most likely to happen during winters, when there is very little moisture in the air.
Exposure to Sun: Prolonged exposure to the sun can cause extensive damage to the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of the skin. Collagen and elastin fibers in the dermis break down faster, when exposed to the ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This in turn causes many skin problems like dark spots, fine lines, wrinkles, and dry skin.
Artificial Climatic Conditioning: Central heating and air conditioning is another cause for dry skin. Whether heating or cooling, these artificial methods reduce humidity from the room.

Cosmetic Causes

Harsh Toiletries and Detergents: Many soaps, body washes, and detergents make use of chemicals that strip the body of its natural moisture, and do very little in terms of replenishing it. Even harsh shampoos can lead to a dry, itchy scalp. One of the primary reasons for dry skin patches on face is the use of cosmetics that contain harmful chemicals. And as facial skin is more delicate compared to other parts, it gets affected quickly.
Hot Showers: It is very tempting to shower with hot water in the cold winter months. However, you need to remember that taking frequent long baths, with very hot water causes the skin to dry out. Even swimming in chlorinated swimming pools or salty sea water will deplete the skin’s natural moisture.

Medical Conditions

Eczema: A very common skin condition, eczema, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, can also cause dry skin patches. This condition is characterized by scaly, flaky, red patches, cradle cap (dermatitis of the scalp in infants) and also tiny fluid-filled lesions. Its occurrence could be caused due to genetic, hormonal, or environmental factors.
Psoriasis: A chronic, autoimmune disease, psoriasis is caused due to a type of white blood cell called T lymphocyte or T cell that attacks healthy skin cells. Stress, infections, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking can also trigger it, leading to a severe form of psoriasis. It is characterized by red scaly patches, discoloration of the nails, and skin inflammation.
Hypothyroidism: Hypothyroidism is a thyroid disorder, wherein the body lacks sufficient thyroid hormone, which in turn slows down the body’s metabolism. This condition could cause the skin to become pale and dry.

Dry skin patches can be treated with a variety of drugs. For skin that has gone dry due to environmental reasons, you can use a good quality moisturizer or emollient. You can also add an extra dose of vitamin E through supplements and/or diet. Experts also suggest that taking prolonged bath/shower, and rubbing your body vigorously with soap can wash away the natural moisture of the skin. So make sure you take bath with lukewarm water, and apply moisturizer while your skin is damp. Use mild “fragrance-free” soaps and moisturizers with a thick consistency. Additionally, you can also invest in a humidifier to maintain the ideal level of moisture in your room. If you are suffering from dry skin patches due to medical reasons, it’s best to consult a doctor to determine the proper course of treatment.