Exfoliative cheilitis: Causes, Symptoms, Pictures, Treatment, Home Remedies

Exfoliative cheilitis is a very rare condition affecting the lips. In fact, many people are not aware of the condition at all. Lips make a person look attractive. If anything happens to the lips, people tend to get worried as lips are an important part of the face, and disorders of the lips make a person look aesthetically unpleasing.

This can even reduce the self-confidence of the people. So, we shall discuss what is Exfoliative cheilitis, what are its causes, symptoms, treatment, home remedies, dietary measures, prevention, etc in this article.

What is Exfoliative cheilitis?

Exfoliative cheilitis
Image source:

Cheilitis is the inflammation or swelling of the lip. Exfoliative cheilitis is the inflammation of the lip which leads to scaling, peeling and flaking of the skin over the lip. If the skin over the lips is peeling off continuously, the raw skin of the lips is revealed. This can even lead to burning, development of fissures and cracks in the lips, and severe pain.

This condition is very common in youngsters below the age of 30 years. It is more common in girls in comparison to the boys. However, it can occur in people of both the sexes, males, and females.

Exfoliative cheilitis causes:

There are many different reasons why Exfoliative cheilitis can occur. In some people, it can occur without any underlying reason. In some people, it occurs due to several other underlying diseases, deficiencies, etc. Let us explore the causes of Exfoliative cheilitis in detail.


We need adequate water intake to keep our body healthy, skin healthy, and even the lips moisturized and hydrated. If we are dehydrated due to any reason, like inadequate water intake, diarrhea, vomiting, or even due to dry hot weather, our lips become dry. Then dry lips can chap and peel easily. This can lead to Exfoliative cheilitis.

Factitious cheilitis:

Now you might be thinking what is this Factitious cheilitis. People with Factitious disorders tend to think of themselves as patients and try to create disease within themselves. Factitious cheilitis can develop when a person tries to develop cheilitis by biting, licking, pricking, pinching, etc their own lips.

Bad oral hygiene:

We need to keep our mouth clean and hygienic by employing various practices like brushing twice every day and also flossing the teeth. This helps to get rid of bacteria which harm the teeth, gums, and lips. If we don’t maintain proper oral hygiene, bacteria can grow in the mouth. These bacteria can damage the teeth, and also the lips leading to Exfoliative cheilitis.

See also  Red Bump on Lip: 7 causes, 13 symptoms,Diagnosis, 20+ Treatments

People with HIV or AIDS have very low immunity levels. Any sort of infection can easily attack these people. Also, the infection tends to become very severe in comparison to the normal people. If any Fungal or Yeast infection attacks these HIV people, it can lead to Exfoliative cheilitis easily by damaging the lips.


Candida is a type of Fungus. It can grow as commensal over our skin without causing any problems. But, in some people, due to various reasons like having low immunity levels, due to hormonal changes, due to the intake of certain drugs, the Candida fungus can overgrow and can lead to Exfoliative cheilitis.

Deficiency of vitamins and minerals:

We need sufficient intake of all the vitamins and minerals to keep our body, skin, and lips healthy. Various vitamins and minerals play a role in the formation of collagen, keratin, etc needed to keep the lips healthy. Any deficiency in these substances can lead to chapping, peeling of lips.

Autoimmune disorders:

Autoimmune disorders are conditions in which our body thinks that our own body parts are foreign and produces antibodies to attack against them. This leads to the damage of the part against which the antibodies are produced. If the person is affected by an autoimmune disorder affecting the skin or lips, he can develop Exfoliative cheilitis.

Insect bites:

Sometimes, the bite of certain insects can also lead to damage to the skin of the lips. This can lead to peeling and chapping of the lips.

Allergic reactions:

People might be allergic to several things including food, pollen, dairy, nuts, animal fur, dirt, etc. These allergic reactions can cause an urticarial rash on the body, along with swelling or inflammation of the lips. This swelling of the lips can damage the lips and lead to Exfoliative cheilitis.


Stress is the root cause of all the problems. Excess stress causes hormonal imbalances and can lead to several disorders like Diabetes, Hypertension, Inflammatory bowel disease or IBD, etc. It can also lead to Exfoliative cheilitis. A person with stress can also bite or chew their lips continuously which can also lead to this condition.

Exfoliative cheilitis Symptoms:

The symptoms of Exfoliative cheilitis can be really troublesome for the person experiencing it. They are:

  • Dryness of the lips
  • Peeling of the lips on a continuous basis
  • Scaling or chapping of the lips
  • Development of sores on the lips
  • Cracking and fissuring of the lips
  • Change in the color of lips
  • Swelling or inflammation
  • Severe pain
  • Bleeding from the lips leading to hemorrhagic crusts formation
  • Tingling, burning of lips
  • Itching
  • Difficulty eating and speaking as lips are painful and swollen
  • Bacterial or Fungal infection over it can lead to oozing of pus, etc
  • Development of stress and personality changes in the person
  • Mood disturbances and Depression in some people
See also  Burning lips: 18 Causes and 7 Remedies

Exfoliative cheilitis Diagnosis:

There is no particular diagnostic test for Exfoliative cheilitis. But, there are certain conditions which mimic Exfoliative cheilitis and so they need to be excluded. For this purpose, tests like the biopsy of the lip, and also swabs of the lip to diagnose any fungal or bacterial infection are taken. Also, a careful psychiatric assessment of the affected person is necessary, as they might have personality changes or depression which needs counseling.

Is Exfoliative cheilitis contagious?

Several people worry if Exfoliative cheilitis is contagious. But, this disorder is not contagious at all. It cannot spread to a healthy person from an affected person by any means like through direct touch or contact, through the air, etc. It occurs due to reasons like mentioned above.

Exfoliative cheilitis Home remedies:

There are several home remedies that can be followed to get some relief from the chapping and peeling of Exfoliative cheilitis. They might involve the application of several substances (can choose amongst the options below) over the lips.

  • Coconut oil
  • Rose petal paste made by grinding along with milk
  • Natural lip balms
  • Olive oil application
  • Lemon juice application
  • Hydrocortisone cream usage over lips
  • Paste made with milk cream and Glycerin
  • Application of sunscreen lotion over lips
  • Calendula officinalis or marigold ointment: It has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, and is very effective in curing Exfoliative cheilitis.
  • Using a cold compress of vinegar and water
  • Lotions or creams containing lactic acid application

Exfoliative cheilitis Treatment:

In order to treat Exfoliative cheilitis, we need to follow the home remedies like listed above. Choose from any method which is convenient for you, and follow it regularly to see good improvement in the symptoms.

You also need to apply Tacrolimus ointment or Marigold ointment as per your physicians advise as they are scientifically proven to deliver good results in the treatment of Exfoliative cheilitis. If there is any infection of Fungus or bacteria over the lips, then this infection needs to be treated with topical antifungals or antibiotics.

See also  Dry Patch On Lip: 7 Causes, 4 Symptoms And 6 Remedies

Exfoliative cheilitis Prevention:

There are several measures that you can take to prevent Exfoliative cheilitis like:

  • Sleep at least  7 to 8 hours every day
  • Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water every day to keep yourself hydrated well
  • Avoid unnecessary psychological stress
  • Do stress relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, etc
  • Apply lip balm at least twice every day
  • Include green leafy vegetables, fruits, and healthy grains as part of your daily diet
  • Avoid eating junk foods
  • Pollution can also adversely affect your lips. So, protect your lips from pollution by wearing a scarf
  • Take vitamins and mineral supplements to prevent nutritional deficiencies
  • Only use lip products which are of reputed brands and contain natural substances
  • Avoid using lip products after expiry date
  • Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing twice every day, flossing the teeth, using mouthwash when required
  • If you are suffering HIV or AIDS, you need to take appropriate Antiretroviral therapy or ART properly

Exfoliative cheilitis Diet:

Diet plays a vital role in curing any condition as it supplies the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients for the body to repair the damage. People suffering from Exfoliative cheilitis also need to make healthy foods in their diet like:

  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Oranges
  • Berries like Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackberries, etc
  • Apples
  • Flax seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acid containing foods
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, lettuce
  • Proteinaceous foods like beans, sprouts, etc

Exfoliative cheilitis Surgery:

In some people, who don’t have any recover from Exfoliative cheilitis and their lips are damaged extensively, surgical treatment options might be considered. Some surgeries which have been helpful in treating this condition are:


In this therapy, the damaged skin over lips is removed using very cold temperature by application of liquid nitrogen. Then later new skin develops over the lips in place of the removed damaged skin


It is the usage of electricity to burn and remove the damaged part of the lips. Then new skin develops over the lips.

Photodynamic therapy:

In this therapy, the damaged skin over lips is removed by using light at certain wavelengths. Then the new skin is formed over the lips just like the above therapies.

Exfoliative cheilitis Pictures:

Image source:
exfoliative cheilitis pictures 2
Image source:
Exfoliative Cheilitis pictures 3
Image source:

We have seen all the possible causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, home remedies and prevention options for Exfoliative cheilitis. It is not a condition which is very serious. But, the main concern is that it can affect the self-esteem of the person by affecting them aesthetically.

So, we need to prevent this condition by following all the measures mentioned above and also follow home remedies promptly if the condition ever develops. If we eat healthily, follow proper preventive measures, it is very rare to develop this condition.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *