Over-the-Counter Treatments for Angular Cheilitis

Angular cheilitis is a common condition that impacts millions of people everyday. Luckily, there are a number of simple over-the-counter products that can be used to successfully treat the symptoms of angular cheilitis. However, there are also a lot of false promises out there. Below is a list of some of the most commonly promoted remedies for angular cheilitis. We’ve done the research, and below we share what works and what doesn’t.

• Vaseline — Many websites out there will tell you that Vaseline can be used to treat angular cheilitis. Vaseline is not a cure for angular cheilitis, but it may alleviate some of the discomfort. It will not stop the underlying bacterial or fungal infection that is responsible for the disease, and alone is unlikely to make symptoms improve.

• Baking soda – has also been touted as a remedy for angular cheilitis. Like Vaseline, baking soda may alleviate some of the symptoms, but it will not treat the cause of angular cheilitis. Only products that are anti-fungal or anti-bacterial will kill the offending microbes responsible for angular cheilitis. You may also need to counter baking soda’s rather high alkalinity (pH of 9) with a lower pH product, such as apple cider vinegar (pH of about 4.25) so as to not damage the skin barrier, and create conditions that are even more hospitable to bacteria.

• Hydrocortisone cream — is a cortisol steroid commonly used to treat skin irritation. It comes in a variety of strengths. Higher-strength hydrocortisone creams are prescription only, but lower-strength creams can be obtained over-the-counter. The steroid works by repressing the immune response that causes itching and swelling. It may help alleviate the symptoms of angular cheilitis, but it will not cure the underlying bacterial or fungal infection that cause angular cheilitis.

• Rubbing alcohol — Rubbing alcohol is a powerful disinfectant that comes in a variety of strengths from 70% to 91%. Rubbing alcohol may help combat the underlying infection responsible for angular cheilitis. However, applying rubbing alcohol to any open area on the skin will be painful. The mouth area is very sensitive, so keep that in mind when using this treatment. Rubbing alcohol may also be less effective at treating fungal infections.

• Anti-yeast supplements — One cause of angular cheilitis is the candida fungus which occurs naturally in human saliva. TV personality Dr. Oz, claims that elevated candida levels can be caused by sugar rich diets (think of yeast eating sugar in the fermentation process). One way to control candida levels is to take a anti-yeast supplement such as candigone. There are many such products on the market. Candida is present throughout the digestive system and can cause a number of problems, and there is no definitive consensus on whether these products will prevent outbreaks of angular cheilitis.

• Candex (enzymes to fight fungal infections) – is the name of a dietary supplement that, according to the bottle uses “natural enzymes to digest fungal cell walls.” There are mixed reviews of the product. It may help prevent angular cheilitis, but is generally used for more severe forms of yeast infection. Because only about 15% of angular cheilitis is caused by fungus, Candex is not recommended as a first course of treatment.

• Tea tree oil — The tea tree oil comes from the traditional medicine of Australia’s aboriginal peoples. According to web MD, which cites medical laboratory studies, tea tree oil has been successful at treating infections from the staphylococcus bacteria, which is responsible for about 80% of angular cheilitis cases in the most recent medical study. Scientific research on tea tree oil is limited, and there is no definitive medical consensus on its effectiveness as a treatment for angular cheilitis.

• Clotrimazole (brand name, Lotriman) — This anti-yeast, anti-fungal cream shows some promise reducing the signs and severity of angular cheilitis but only if fungi are responsible for the development of the cheilitis. Unfortunately, most occurrences result from a bacterial infection, rendering Clotrimazole ineffective. It still may be worth trying Clotrimazole as part of your over-the-counter treatment barrage against perleche.

The aforementioned over-the-counter treatments for angular cheilitis have their limitations as noted above. You may wish to take a trial-and-error approach, and see which ones, if any, result in a favorable response. Still, You may find your ‘holy grail’ with any given over-the-counter treatment for angular cheilitis.

The decision to use any over-the-counter remedy presented in this category rests with you. After all, our over-the-counter treatment recommendations are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.