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Exfoliative Cheilitis Remedies

Last Modified on Nov 10, 2015

What Is Exfoliative Cheilitis?

Periodic dry skin on the lips is common; however, when the condition goes beyond the “typical dry skin” the issue may be a more serious health concern. Exfoliative cheilitis is a progressive skin disorder that affects the lips. Causing inflamed lips, exfoliative cheilitis is also characterized by rapid and continuous peeling of the lips. The peeling associated with exfoliative cheilitis is often involuntary and can be painful if inflammation and peeling progresses.

Several symptoms manifest in conjunction with exfoliative cheilitis. The most common symptoms include peeling of the skin on the lips, dry skin and flaking or chapping of the lips. Additional symptoms include cracks or fissures in the lips, redness, irritation, inflammation, burning or tingling in the lips and overall discomfort.

While rarely reported, exfoliative cheilitis is believed to be caused by stress which may trigger self-damaging behavior. Individuals at a higher risk for developing exfoliative cheilitis are those who breathe through their mouths, suck or lick their lips, frequently pick their lips or bite their lips. Additionally, poor oral hygiene is also considered a predisposing factor. Whatever the cause of the actual condition, excessive keratin buildup is the factor that causes the abnormal peeling in affected individuals.

Natural Chapped Lips Remedy and Treatments for Exfoliative Cheilitis

Chapped and peeling lips are an uncomfortable condition for anyone. Nonetheless, many home remedies can offer relief from both conditions. As the condition is likely connected to a fungal issue, treating it with an antifungal ointment is often effective. An additional chapped lips remedy involves a regimen of borax, hydrogen peroxide, specialized Whole Food shampoo, vegetable glycerin, lanolin, castor oil and purified water. Using these items to cleanse and coat the lips strengthens the skin and corrects abnormal peeling. Likewise, applying a cold compress with vinegar and water daily as well as taking probiotics and completing a natural cleanse should help treat the underlying issues causing exfoliative cheilitis.

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Antifungal Cream
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Posted by Lisa (Colorado) on 12/20/2013

[YEA]  My lips started peeling like crazy when I returned from a trip to the hottest part of California. Several times a day they would peel. The skin would come off only to repeat the process again and again. I tried everything I could think of to cure it. Then, I searched the internet high and low and found that angular cheilitis was found to be a yeast infection on the corner of the mouth, so I thought maybe this was too. I went to the store and bought a generic Miconazole Nitrate cream (2%). It is marketed as a vaginal antifungal cream. Disregarding the applicators, I applied it daily several times a day to my lips and on the skin just above and below. I could tell after 4 days that it was slowly improving the condition. It took the full seven days to be almost completely healed. I used it a few days longer (3x a day) just to be sure it was completely gone. (I will add that I'm in good health and felt pretty certain that I did not have a vaginal yeast infection or a systemic yeast infection, so this condition is just so bizarre! )

I've read blogs on the internet from people saying they have suffered from this for ten years, and no doctor or dermatologist could help the situation! It does not want to go away on it's own! I found certain irritants that made it much worse. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate in my toothpaste was the first culprit. I started brushing with a homemade paste of baking soda and coconut oil mixed with some cinnamon essential oil. The next major irritant that was setting me back during the healing process was nonorganic coffee, tea, and hot cocoa. Those products would cause my lips to peel within half an hour to an hour after drinking them, but when I switched to organic coffee, etc. they would not peel. I think it was those terrible chemicals/pesticides that caused the yeast to multiply profusely.

I suffered the anxiety and embarrassment of this for about seven months, and I am so relieved and grateful to have it gone. I truly hope that this post helps someone else who is suffering from this condition!

Replied by Mimi

I learned that Exfoliative Cheilitis is caused by stress, autoimmune disease or contact with a substance that irritates your skin. Mine was caused by extreme stress. I saw my MD and took something for stress AND used Aquaphor Lip Repair. I had EC symptoms for 2 weeks, continually getting worse and started to have fissures. I tried olive oil, coconut oil and Emu oil. The Emu oil worked the best, but 2 days on antidepressant and using Aquaphor and my lips are almost back to normal. Just wanted to share in case anyone else out there might have the same reasons as me for having EC.
Replied by Peter

Did you let the skin peel first before starting the treatment? Where was the infected area of your lip? Top and bottom?
Replied by Jemimah

Did u experience lips inflammation whenever u use lipstick? Cos am going through that now.

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Posted by Lynn (Wisconsin, US) on 01/29/2015

[YEA]  I have had exfoliative chelitis for 2 years and nothing seemed to help. I have seen great improvement using 10% Calendula officinalis gel from health food store. I have been applying it 2x/day and using coconut oil as lip balm. Condition is much improved. I only wish my Dermatologist knew about this treatment when this all started.

Replied by Arun

I have also started the treatment with calendula lotion for local application and taking calendula homeopathic medicine also because Exfoliative cheilitis may have to do with intestinal issues with overgrowth of Candida.

Calendula is also excellent medicine for leacky gut problem and giving a refresh energy to your intestine.

Fish Oil
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Posted by Reshae (Georgia, US) on 08/29/2014

September of 2013 I noticed my lips were peeling and really dry. I applied Vaseline and thought nothing if it. The next day the dryness was a little worse. It seemed as though every time I wet my lips the dryness would come back almost instantly and my lips became sore. This continued for a few days, until on maybe the third day my lips begin to peel profusely. I was losing layers and layers of skin off my lips. Sometimes I would peel the skin off and other times it would just fall off on its own. My lips would become white when in contact with water.

I thought to myself what could I have done to cause this? I believed it was an allergic reaction, but to what? I thought back when I had used Carmex on my lips for two nights in a row. Carmex contains ingredients that causes lips to peel because it is not actually for the lips. It's for the peeling of cold sores. To make a long story short to get cured I used hydrocortizone 0.1. Only a little because this helped peel off the dead skin from my lips.

I believe this helped some but what helped me the most is taking fish oil pills 3 times a day. It gives the directions on the bottle. What fish oil does is not only lubricates from the inside but also thins your blood. This isn't a bad thing being that the allergic reaction from Carmex was still in my blood. Also, during my healing process I used aquaphor. Other natural oils may help, but aquaphor worked the best for me because it's not only a good moisturizer but it hides the peeling really well while you're healing yourself. You only have to apply a small amount. Along with that I made sure to eat healthy and fresh foods and got plenty of exercise. I had Exfoliative Cheilitis for about 6 or 7 months. I discovered taking fish oil maybe on the 5th or 6th month. I was cured in maybe a month in a half. I hope this helps someone.

Replied by Ivan
New York, New York

Thank you for this post. I first learned about my condition about a year ago. Its been really tough on me for I have had a really hard time going out and enjoying social situations as I normally would have. My symptoms seems very similar to yours and I really want to rid myself of this once and for all. How has your condition been since your last post? Hope all is well. I do have hydrocortisone and aquaphor. Now I just need for run out and purchase fish/krill oil to really supercharge the healing process. Thank you for your post. Continue to Be well.
Replied by Abdul Rauof
Abu Dhabi

Which is better Aquaphor Lip Repair or Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm
Replied by More Ke

Hai, I just red ur post n I feep so glad to know that some has healed from ec. I just wanna ask, r u 100% healed? Will it come back again in d future? Thanks

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Posted by Dee (Tulsa, Ok) on 12/01/2012

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:
Soft toothbrush
Borax ("20 Mule Team")
3% hydrogen peroxide
Whole Foods "365" shampoo
Vegetable glycerin
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.

Replied by Dee
Tulsa, Ok

[YEA]   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!
Replied by Ash

I don't understand. I have had this condition for 12 years now. What I thought was that maybe this occurred to me because I was constantly picking my lips when they were chapped and ended up removing the whole upper layer skin of my bottom lip. And that now that upper layer skin was trying to heal itself by growing new skin which needs to be fully healed. I supposed the whole new layer of skin will absorb itself onto the lip in a few days and that I don't need to peel off the skin. But it is very difficult since brushing the teeth makes it super soft and it gets removed by simple movements of the lip while brushing.

Have I got the whole idea wrong? Would it not heal and absorb into the skin like I have supposed? I have tried vaseline, coconut oil, castor oil etc but had no success.

Replied by Dee
Tulsa, Ok

This update is way overdue... I'm very happy to report that my lips are healed and have been looking great. I stopped my "protocol" around mid-2013 after I was sure that my lips were healed. After that I only use a very thin coating of the Lansinoh to keep my lips soft.

To Ash from India:

If you have had this condition for 12 years, isn't it time to try a different approach? Vaseline (a petroleum based product) only makes things worse.