Exfoliative Cheilitis Remedies

| Modified on Nov 09, 2022
Add New Post Comments

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.

Antifungal Cream

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

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

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.

Replied by Hello
(Austin, Tx)

Is it bad to put anti-fungal cream on the lips?

Replied by Mama To Many

You could try a salve or cream with the flowers of the herb calendula in it instead. It is a natural and very gentle antifungal. But works very well! Extra Virgin Coconut oil is also an anti-fungal and pleasant to use on the lips.

~Mama to Many~

Replied by Jeneatte
(Antelope, Ca)

I'm trying your remedy.. Praying it works. Question about the miconazole cream, did you apply it all over lips or just the effected area, and how many times a day. Thanks!

Replied by Pedro

If someone else that tried this remedy could share the results, please?

Replied by Lyn

Try sea salt baths, I make warm bowl of sea salt water and dip cotton pads in it and lay on my lips ...miracle healing!! Thank you Jesus!

Replied by Lyn Marti

Oops I should add that sea/himalayan salt kills the candida bacteria google to see... but one should go slow and put only a *little pinch of salt in the warm water.

I am using Himalayan salt now and just a small amount. It is really speeding up recovery, as well as calendula salve, calendula cream and aquaphor.

Replied by Fan B
(San Francisco)

Don't eat grains-especially wheat, and no processed foods. Only eat raw and cooked veggies, fat (animal and vegetables like avocados), raw veggies, and a small amount of fruit. Don't consume soda of any type. Starve the fungus by not giving it sugar or grains, especially wheat. You will feel pretty bad for some days or weeks, but its worth it! xoxo

Replied by Kirti

Please let me also know as my and my brother's lips constantly peel off and become white on touch with border. It will be of great help as we are suffering from past 5 years.

Calendula Gel

6 User Reviews
5 star (5) 
3 star (1) 

Posted by Denise (California ) on 05/26/2019

Thank you all for your posts! It's so great to know one is not alone with this weird condition. It's been going on with me for at least 7 years. Went through a gamut of products, twice had liquid nitrogen treatment as prescribed and administered by a dermatologist. searching the web with key words til I finally came across all of your comments. I elected to try the calendula lotion (and use the ointment as well). It's been 2 weeks now and I'm soooo happy to have normal non peeling lips again! Grateful to all for your contributions to this discussion.

Replied by Khoi

Hi Denise!

Can you link exactly what calendula lotion you used? Currently I'm doing the calendula ointment from boiron.


Where can I purchase calendula ointment?

EC: Online and available in most health food stores and pharmacies.

Calendula Gel
Posted by Va (India) on 06/04/2017

About 4 months ago, out of the blue, my lips starting peeling like crazy. I would wake up with very tight lips (felt like there was tape on them). I would get temporary relief after washing and mildly exfoliating them. However, within an hour or so, the tightness would return and over the next few hours, there would be a lot of peeling, redness, soreness, and a little bleeding. I had trouble smiling and talking. There would be this small window in the evening when all of the peeling would go away, only for the cycle to repeat the next day.

Initially, I attributed this to the weather and dehydration.

I turned to the usual home remedies - drinking lots of water, vaseline, beeswax balms, coconut oil, castor oil, fish oil, B12 vitamin supplements, followed by prescription steroid creams. Not one of these things helped at all. I then thought it might be an allergy to something and slowly stopped using any new cosmetics, changed my sheets and pillow case even more frequently. No results yet again.

I was almost ready to give up when I stumbled across Calendula gel as a treatment option. I ordered a 4% strength calendula gel about a month ago. I would apply it 4-5 times a day, followed by beeswax, in the initial week. The peeling and all symptoms went away within 2 days. After that, I have been applying the gel twice a day just for maintenance and my lips have never felt better!

I can't believe most doctors don't know about this option.

Replied by Sahal

What is the name of the ointment

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

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.

Replied by Jen

Did you also have small bumps that went around the borders of the lips where inflamed? I just want to make sure we have the same condition. I feel like I have the worst with peeling lips and inflammation with bumps and raised areas on the upper and lower lips.

Replied by Leslie
(Cromwell, Ct)

I too have had EXCELLENT results from Calendula officinalis 10% for Exfoliative Chelitis. I apply it and when it drys I add a thin coat of Aquaphor and repeat this throughout the day. I saw results in less than a week. Now I'm back to "normal " and haven't had any signs of EC since using this combo! I am thrilled! My doctors were clueless as well!

Replied by Leslie

Reply to Jen. Yes, at one point I had tiny blister-like bumps on the rims of my upper and lower lips.

Replied by Pedro

I have been using Calendula officinalis ointment 10% for about 2 months (3-4 times a day). With its use my lip has stopped peeling and improved a lot. However... it continues red (in the area which it touches the upper lip) and inflamed. I'm also using Bepantol derma. I am wondering which brand of calendula you have and if you are still applying it (and if you remain symptom free).

Replied by Leslie
(Cromwell, Ct)

Califlora Calendula Gel (officinalis 1X 10% and Aquaphor is the combination I've been using religiously. I was totally symptom-free so I slacked off, using the Calendula gel only a few times a day. Then recently felt it coming back (stinging and "crispy, sharp" flakes on my lips) so I went back to my original routine, which is a THIN layer of the gel, let it dry, then a THIN layer of Aquaphor . Every time your lips dry up, reapply! Like 20 + times a day, it's worth it! Please let me know how you make out! I Googled "exessive skin growth on lips" and came across an article on exfoliative cheilitis from Brazil is where I got this suggestion from for the Calendula gel, I added the Aquaphor from another blog and it seems to do the trick for me!

Replied by Pedro

First of all, sorry for my english. If you were totally symptom-free with its use, I think it maybe has to do with Candida (and that makes sense because the Calendula is, among other things, an antifungal). Try to do the spit test (search it on google). If you have Candida overgrouth, maybe occurred on your lip a reinfection. I did it and apparently I have Candida overgrouth. I had all the symptoms of EC and I still have the red and inflamed lip (the bottom lip), but it has stopped peeling (with Calendula use). After I did the spit test, I searched about some symptoms I have on the upper lip some very small white points all together (in the exact area it touches the bottom lip). I had not worried so much about it because my dermatologist had said that it was Fordyce spots (normal variation of the glands). But after my research I read that it could be small colonies of Candida albicans. With the result of the spit test I changed my diet to avoid the multiplication of the fungal (sugar free etc.). In addition to that I am using Nystatin 100.000 Ul/g oral suspension (4ml - 4 times a day) and Nystatin 100.000 Ul/g + Zinc Oxide 200mg/g ointment (1x when I go to sleep and 1x during the day). I am using too, during the day, the combo Calendula + Aquaphor. I am doing this procedure for about 6 days hoping that it works. If it does, I will write here.

Replied by Bulbul

I had a blister on the lip before EC came along and for the longest time I tried aloe vera, coconut oil, cortizone cream (which temporarily helped) and finally I stumbled upon Calendula on the net and bought a homeopathic tincture and mixed with glycerine, the healing was fairly quick... 2 weeks or so...

I am still not sure if its gone for good cause but calendula worked when nothing else did.

Replied by Hosay

Pedro, how did the combination work for you?

Replied by Pedro

Hosay, since December 2015 I have Exfoliative Chelitis (EC). I did not notice any improvement with the Nystatin. I'm trying not to think about it too much.

For about three months I did not eat processed carbohydrates because I thought (and still think) that the EC is related with candida. In the last days, however, I stopped caring about the diet (but I still don't eat sugar) because it did not seem to help and I have no more time or patience to keep it.

In the last three months I'm just using calendula. The only thing that seems to help is calendula ointment. I apply it (a small amount) on the lips only at night before I go to sleep. The lips are almost the same everyday. When I stay some time without applying calendula there is exfoliations cycles of the skin. With the calendula ointment, there is a stable situation of non-exfoliation and the lips look better. The EC, however, is not cured and the normal symptoms come back if I stop using the calendula.

Replied by Nancy
(Hong Kong)

Hi. I am suffering from exfoliative cheilitis and had been given steriod ointment (Elomet) three times a day, which was no use. My lip also feel tight and sore, hard to open wide. Eating and talking for too long can also be a pain. Good to know that Calendula is working, please advise which brand /name you used.
Thank you. Nancy

Replied by Kirti

Are u sure Exfoliative Chelitis is caused by fungal infection? Has anyone else been cured by using calendula?

Replied by Didi

Calendula helps lots of skin problems, fungal or no. I would try it for sure.

Candida Cleanse, Chinese Medicine

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Sapphire (Canada) on 11/19/2016

Exfoliative Cheilitis: cured through:

1. Candida Cleanse to get rid of candida overgrowth

2. Traditional Chinese medicine: intensive 6-week (2x/week) sessions of lymphatic drainage massage + acupuncture + herbal remedies.

Will write a more detailed post next month after my sessions are finished! But wanted to share for those who want to try something that is helping heal my EC. Noticeable improvement after 2 weeks!

Replied by Marie
(Long Beach, Ca)

hi Sapphire, how did this treatment work for you?

Replied by Manith

Hi I have exfoliative-cheilitis from 2 months can I cure this from Chinese medicine. I want to do this because now I'm in China can you help me?

Replied by Adele

Hi saw your note about exfoliation cheilitis...just want to know how did you treat it and if u are healed


1 User Review
5 star (1) 

Posted by Maria (Tampa, Fl) on 03/23/2018

I suffered from exfoliative cheilitis on my lips for months. Every morning I'd wake up with peeling lips that would bleed if I tried to pick at them. I tried correcting any deficiencies, changing my diet, vitamins. Some things helped but nothing was getting rid of the problem completely. Then I heard about colostrum, which I wanted to take for a different issue.

After only THREE days of liquid colostrum, the peeling lips problem is just GONE. Completely gone! I wasn't even taking the colostrum for this problem but I was amazed when I went to go brush my teeth one day and my lips were smooth and perfectly normal! This is proof to me that I should continue taking the colostrum for the myriad of other help benefits that people claim. I've only been taking it for about a week and I cant wait to see what other things are fixed with the colostrum. I am taking 1 tsp of liquid (unflavored) colostrum three times a day mixed with a bit of water.

Replied by Marnie
(Madera, Ca)

Hi Maria, thanks for sharing your experience with colostrum. It would be great to know what brand you're using. Thanks :)

Replied by Rahul

What kind of colostrum did you use? Baffalos colostrum or cows colostrum?
Nd then what did you apply on the lips?

Fish Oil

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

Multiple Remedies

1 User Review
5 star (1) 

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)

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.