"Cheilitis is a medical condition involving inflammation of the lip.
It is associated with many conditions, including megaloblastic anemia from vitamin B12 deficiency, iron deficiency anemia (which in severe cases can lead to Plummer-Vinson syndrome) and oral candidiasis. It can also be a symptom of allergies, such as allergy to Balsam of Peru. Cheilitis can also be caused by taking the (retinoid) drug Isotretinoin..."
Our readers offer information and opinions on Earth Clinic, not as a substitute for professional medical prevention, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician, pharmacist, or health care provider before taking any home remedies or supplements or following any treatment suggested by anyone on this site. Only your health care provider, personal physician, or pharmacist can provide you with advice on what is safe and effective for your unique needs or diagnose your particular medical history.
12/01/2012: Dee from Tulsa, Ok: "I've had this problem for over four months. I thought it was just extremely dry/chapped lips, but when it got really bad I went looking for solutions on the web, and I discovered that it was actually exfoliative cheilitis. The cause is unknown and there's no "official" medical treatment. Doctors and dermatologists are completely clueless. Ugh! Anyway, after days and days of researching and reading peoples' experiences on other websites, it became apparent that almost no one had found a cure. So, I decided to try something I haven't seen anybody try yet.
This protocol was inspired by popular [Ted's] remedies here on EC. I'm working under the assumption that this is some kind of bacterial and/or fungal infection.
This is what I used:
Borax ("20 Mule Team")
3% hydrogen peroxide
Whole Foods "365" shampoo
Pure HPA lanolin ("Lansinoh")
Pure cold pressed Castor oil ("Home Health")
Bottled purified water
I prepared these solutions and kept them handy by the sink:
---> Borax solution (dissolve 2 Tablespoons of borax in 1 liter/quart of purified water). This amount should be enough to last about four days.
---> Borax/hydrogen peroxide solution (4 parts borax solution and 1 part hydrogen peroxide). Put it in a one liter/quart bottle.
---> Shampoo solution (1 part mild natural shampoo and 1 part purified water). An 8-ounce bottle of this would be enough to last a long time.
THIS IS MY PROTOCOL: I did this routine twice a day (morning after breakfast, and evening after dinner). It takes about 5 minutes.
Brush teeth with water only (no toothpaste! ) to remove food particles. Rinse.
Pour some of the borax/hydrogen peroxide solution into a glass. Wet toothbrush with the borax/hp solution and brush teeth. Rinse mouth with borax/hp solution.
Then wash lips very gently with the mild shampoo solution. Rinse well.
Take another sip of the borax/hp solution and gargle and swish with it for about 20 seconds. Spit it out. Rinse mouth with more borax/hp solution.
Pat-dry the skin surrounding the lips. Then wet the lips with the borax/hp solution and allow to air dry. Then gently apply glycerin to lips, and then a thin coating (one tiny drop) of castor oil.
I did this routine twice a day (morning after breakfast, and evening after dinner). After lunch I only brushed with water and/or borax solution and re-applied the glycerin and castor oil. The thick flakes/crusts on my lips fell off on the third and fourth day after I started with this protocol, leaving smooth lips. They were a little raw/inflamed where the crusts had been, but I continued with the protocol for a couple more days. Don't rub or pull the dead skin flakes/crusts. If they didn't fall off during all the washing and rinsing, just leave them alone. They'll fall off when they're ready.
Same as Week 1, but using the borax solution only (no hydrogen peroxide), and Lansinoh instead of glycerin.
I'm still doing this routine twice a day. I'm at the end of week 2, and my lips are still soft and have not hardened or peeled at all. But they're still delicate and a bit sensitive. I'll continue the same protocol as my 'Week 2' for another week and see if I need to make changes. I'm very happy with the results of this method so far. I carry some of the borax solution in a little plastic bottle and the Lansinoh with me in case I need to use them when I'm out."
12/09/2012: Dee from Tulsa, Ok replies: "I'm starting Week 4 of my protocol (same as Week 2)
My lips are still soft. Yesterday morning when I woke up, I felt some loose skin on the right side of my lower lip, and when I looked in the mirror, indeed there was a layer of skin about half inch wide that apparently had begun to separate during the night. The loose skin was very thin/delicate and completely fell off while doing my protocol after breakfast, leaving a smooth lip.
Today, the skin on my lips feels much stronger, and the sensitivity is much less. The white "line" that used to form between my lips is so thin now that is hardly noticeable. I'm even getting back the vertical 'ridges' just like normal lip skin. Slowly but surely, my lips are feeling and looking practically normal. Yay!"
[QUESTION] 07/04/2010: Hamzaa from London, England: "Hi there, can you add a new section in your ailments under the name of Exfoliative cheilitis? I see that you already have Angular Cheilitis but you don't have Exfoliative cheilitis which is different disease... please add it as I would want to see if anyone has any cures for it. Thank you very much."