Angular Cheilitis: 5 Foods To Avoid With Dry Cracked Lips

Even if you may not have heard about angular cheilitis, I’m pretty sure you may have experienced its symptoms at least once. 

Angular cheilitis is a common inflammatory skin condition that affects one or both corners of your mouth. 

As a result, it can cause your mouth to become irritated and get dry, cracked sores on your lips. 

Keep in mind that these are very different from cold sores, which are caused by herpes virus. 

One of the most common causes of angular cheilitis is saliva accumulating in the corners of the mouth, causing dryness. 

Over time, very dry skin can lead to cracked sores, which can cause inflammation or an infection. 

There are some factors that may increase the risk of angular cheilitis. Here are some of the most common. 

  • Chronic conditions (diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease)
  • Down syndrome (causes dry and drooping skin)
  • Low immune function (like HIV)
  • Smoking
  • Stress
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Skin wrinkles due to aging 

Due to the cracks at the corner of your mouth, you may experience bleeding, blisters, cracking, crusting, redness, or swelling. 

If you experience any of these conditions, it’s important to check with a health professional to determine the best course of action to help treat the condition. 

With that said, while you are getting treatment, there are some foods you may want to avoid and some that you may want to focus on. 

In this article, we are going to go over foods to eat and to avoid if you have angular cheilitis. In addition, we’ll go over other lifestyle habits to consider if you have this condition. 

Foods To Avoid With Angular Cheilitis 

Improving your diet for good oral health is not just about focusing on eating soft foods. It should focus on reducing inflammation, enhancing immune function, and supporting the body’s healing mechanism. 

Adopting a balanced diet may contribute to overall oral health, potentially supporting your well-being.

The following are foods you may want to avoid since they can hinder the healing process, trigger a flare-up, or simply worsen the symptoms of angular cheilitis.

1) Acidic and Spicy Foods

Citric foods and juices can cause a burning sensation when they come in contact with the sores. The same applies to spicy foods since they can cause a stinging sensation on an already inflamed skin. 

Consequently, not only can they cause discomfort and reduce the quality of life, but they can also affect the healing process. 

2) Gluten and Dairy Products (If You’re Intolerant)

Some people may have sensitivities or allergies to certain foods that can manifest around the corner of your mouth.

The most common include dairy products and gluten. When you avoid these foods, you can reduce the risk of increasing your angular cheilitis symptoms and allow your skin to heal properly. 

3) Too Many Sugary Foods

A high-sugar diet can increase the risk of inflammation and contribute to yeast overgrowth, which can be linked to angular cheilitis. 

Try limiting your sugar intake to less than 10% of your calories from sugar, which means having an average intake of 20-25 grams of sugar daily. 

4) Alcohol 

Alcohol can irritate and dry out your skin, including the sensitive skin around your mouth. It’s best to avoid alcohol or at least reduce your intake, especially if you are prone to angular cheilitis. 

5) Caffeine

Caffeine, particularly from coffee or strong teas, can cause dehydration. If you enjoy your daily cup, be sure to include a couple of extra glasses of water to keep your skin hydrated

vitamins for energy

Foods To Eat With Angular Cheilitis 

Focusing on a diet rich in nutrients can help your body fight against angular cheilitis and reduce inflammation. Here are some of the foods that are worth adding to your angular cheilitis diet. 

1) Foods High In Antioxidants

Antioxidants can help reduce inflammation by decreasing the damage done by free radicals. 

Green leafy vegetables, turmeric, berries, and other fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants. 

Make sure you are including a wide variety since each different colored vegetable and fruit provides a different antioxidant. 

The more diverse your diet is, the more nutrients you get and the stronger your immune system will be. 

2) Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their potent anti–inflammatory properties. Options like fatty fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and algae are some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. 

3) Vitamin E

Vitamin E seems to have a beneficial effect on skin conditions. Include foods high in vitamin E, such as almonds, hazelnuts, and sunflower seeds. 

4) High Iron and Vitamin B Foods

According to research, 14% of cases of iron deficiency can increase the risk of angular cheilitis. It also seems that a deficiency of B complex can increase the risk of this condition. 

Make sure you are eating high-iron foods, such as organ meats, chicken, red meat, and legumes. 

5) Plenty Of Water

Drinking plenty of water can help keep your skin hydrated, reducing the risk of angular cheilitis. 

Make sure you focus on water since other additives and preservatives may irritate the skin, increasing the risk of symptoms. 

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Tips For Angular Cheilitis Prevention and Relief

In addition to dietary changes, there are some lifestyle adjustments and oral care habits that can help ease and prevent angular cheilitis. 

Oral Care Routines

Good oral hygiene is your first line of defense against angular cheilitis. Here are some practices to include in your routine:

  • Brush your teeth and tongue twice a day with a soft-bristle brush. 
  • Floss daily to remove food particles and prevent bacteria build-up. 
  • Use gentle, alcohol-free mouthwash to maintain the pH of your mouth. 

Protect Your Lips

Dry, cracked lips are more prone to infections and irritation. Here are some ways to keep smooth and chapped-free lips:

  • Apply natural lip balm several times a day, especially before going outside. Better if they have UV protection. 
  • Avoid licking your lips, as this can make them drier and more sensitive. 

Lifestyle Changes

Leading a healthy lifestyle not only benefits your overall health but can also have a positive impact on your oral health.

  • Manage your stress levels since stress can weaken the immune system and make you more vulnerable to infections. 
  • Get plenty of sleep since it’s the time your body heals. 
  • Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke since tobacco can irritate the skin and increase the risk of oral infections. 

Can Vitamin Deficiency Cause Cracks In The Corner of Your Mouth?

Yes, a vitamin deficiency can cause cracks in the corner of your mouth. This is particularly true for deficiencies in riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), and iron. 

These essential nutrients are crucial for maintaining healthy skin, and their deficiency can weaken these tissues, making them more susceptible to irritation and inflammation. As a result, it can increase the risk of angular cheilitis. 

For that reason, it’s important to have a varied diet that covers all your dietary needs. If you are unsure how much you should eat to reach your goals and still get all the nutrients your body needs, consult with a health professional. 


  • Angular cheilitis can be a persistent and uncomfortable oral condition. However, by making some informed adjustments to what you eat and how you care for your mouth, you can reduce the frequency and intensity of flare-ups. 
  • A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods and vitamins, along with good oral hygiene, is going to be your biggest ally to protect against angular cheilitis.

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  1. Simopoulos AP. Omega-3 fatty acids in inflammation and autoimmune diseases. J Am Coll Nutr. 2002 Dec;21(6):495-505. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2002.10719248. PMID: 12480795.
  2. Murphy NC, Bissada NF. Iron deficiency: an overlooked predisposing factor in angular cheilitis. J Am Dent Assoc. 1979 Oct;99(4):640-1. doi: 10.14219/jada.archive.1979.0340. PMID: 292723.

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