Cracks at the corner of the mouth look ugly and feel terrible. Can castor oil help?
Q. A year ago I read your newspaper column and discovered a remedy for cracks at the corner of the mouth. I’ve had cracks and a red fungal infection around my mouth since a trip to Africa in 2014. My doctor prescribed Nystatin and it helped, but did not eliminate the problem.
I tried swabbing the castor oil around my mouth for a couple of weeks, which completely cleared up the problem. Thank you People’s Pharmacy for another great remedy!
A. Cracks at the corners of the mouth are called angular cheilitis (AC), perleche, cheilosis, angular cheilosis, angular stomatitis or rhagades. These fissures can be quite painful, especially if they become inflamed or bleed. Eating can be especially problematic when these lesions get out of control.
The Fungus Among Us:
The causative factors underlying cracks at the corner of the mouth are varied. We suspect that in the winter, when lips dry out, people are tempted to lick their lips repeatedly. The saliva could increase the risk for infection because moisture allows both bacteria and fungi to flourish. Some of these cracks at the corner of the mouth are related to an infectious process, which is why some doctors prescribe a topical anti-fungal cream or even oral medicine like nystatin.
Castor Oil to the Rescue:
One reason the topical application of castor oil (Ricinus communis) to lips might be helpful is that this ancient remedy has antifungal and antibacterial activity (Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, Dec., 2012). The original article that you referred to resulted from a message from a visitor to this website:
“After successfully using castor oil to heal those pesky fingertip cracks I get every winter (my cousin’s suggestion), I decided to try it on the corners of my mouth. They are always cracked and sometimes bleed.
“Nothing I’ve tried previously-from switching toothpastes to topical and systemic antibiotics or antifungals-has made a difference, and this has been a problem for several years.
“After a single night using the castor oil, the cracks had healed significantly. After just one week of use, healing was complete. I continue to use the oil around my mouth and on my hands every night. I will never be without it!”
Other Uses for Castor Oil:
Pat in Omaha, Nebraska offer this story:
“I use castor oil all the time, learned about it when reading books about Edgar Cayce. Last winter my heels were very dry and cracked, first time they ever had that problem. So, every night I put on castor oil, then wore socks to bed. Within 2 weeks it had completely cleared up! I also use it for my dry, itchy arms. Nothing else works to keep them from itching.”
Carolyn in Maryland says:
“I have acne rosacea, but cannot use Finacea as it burns my skin and makes matters worse. In desperation, I put castor oil on the breakouts and it helps tremendously. It doesn’t cure it, but it makes it better than any of the prescribed medications. It takes about 1-2 days for a pimple to disappear. It also helps with the blepharitis on my eyelids (and as a bonus, acts as an eye makeup remover.)”
People’s Pharmacy caveat: Please keep castor oil OUT of the eyes! It could be irritating.
Angelina shares this:
“Castor oil can certainly help reduce the bruising. I am always amazed to find out that natural substances can be put to so many uses.” :)
LCF confirms castor oil works against bruising:
“Whenever my children hurt themselves, the first thing I reached for was the castor oil. My mother-in-law’s uncle was a boxer and castor oil was what they used after a boxing match to prevent hematomas and bruising. It works like a charm. It has been passed down as a remedy in my family for many years.”
There are lots more remedies for cracks at the corner of the mouth at these links:
Listerine for Angular Cheilitis
Athlete’s Foot cream for angular Cheilitis
Celiac disease as a cause of Angular Cheilitis
Share your own castor oil story below in the comment section. And if you have another approach for healing the cracks at the corner of the mouth, please share them as well.