Cheilitis Exfoliativa

Cheilitis exfoliativa is a common inflammatory skin condition that affects the lips. It is characterized by dryness, scaling, and peeling of the lips, leading to discomfort and cosmetic concerns. The condition is typically chronic and recurrent, with episodes of remission and exacerbation. The exact cause of cheilitis exfoliativa is unknown, but several factors have been implicated, including environmental factors (such as exposure to cold, wind, and sunlight), irritants (such as lip balms, cosmetics, and toothpaste), infections (such as bacterial or fungal), and systemic diseases (such as autoimmune disorders).


The exact cause of this condition is not fully understood, but there are several factors that are known to contribute to its development.

  1. Environmental factors: Exposure to harsh weather conditions such as cold, dry air, or sunburn can lead to Cheilitis exfoliativa. The use of certain lip products or cosmetics that contain irritants or allergens can also trigger this condition.
  2. Nutritional deficiencies: Nutritional deficiencies of vitamins B2 (riboflavin) and B6 (pyridoxine) have been found to contribute to Cheilitis exfoliativa.
  3. Infection: Bacterial and fungal infections can cause Cheilitis exfoliativa. Candida, a type of yeast, is commonly found in the mouth and can lead to Cheilitis exfoliativa if it grows out of control.
  4. Medications: Certain medications such as retinoids, which are commonly used to treat acne, can cause Cheilitis exfoliativa as a side effect.
  5. Systemic diseases: Cheilitis exfoliativa can also be associated with certain systemic diseases, such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease.


The main symptoms of Cheilitis exfoliativa include:

  1. Dry, cracked, or chapped lips: The skin on the lips may become dry and rough, leading to cracking and flaking.
  2. Redness and swelling: The lips may appear swollen and red, which can be painful and uncomfortable.
  3. Itching and burning sensation: The lips may feel itchy or burning, which can cause discomfort.
  4. Blisters or sores: In severe cases, blisters or sores may form on the lips, leading to pain and discomfort.
  5. Sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures: People with Cheilitis exfoliativa may experience increased sensitivity to temperature changes, especially to cold weather.
  6. Scaly patches: The skin on the lips may develop scaly patches that can be unsightly and embarrassing.
  7. Crusting: The skin on the lips may develop a crust, which can be painful and itchy.

Overall, Cheilitis exfoliativa can be a painful and uncomfortable condition that can affect a person’s daily life. However, with proper treatment and care, most people can manage their symptoms and prevent flare-ups.


The main test used to diagnose this condition is a physical examination of the lips, which may include a visual inspection and palpation of the affected area.

During the physical examination, the healthcare provider will look for signs of inflammation, redness, swelling, and scaling on the lips. They may also take a sample of the affected skin for further testing, such as a biopsy, to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms.

In some cases, blood tests or allergy tests may also be recommended to determine if there is an underlying condition or trigger causing the cheilitis exfoliativa. These tests can help identify possible triggers, such as food allergies, vitamin deficiencies, or autoimmune disorders.

Overall, the diagnosis of cheilitis exfoliativa is based on the characteristic symptoms and physical examination findings, and there is no specific test that can definitively diagnose this condition. Treatment may involve topical medications, oral medications, or lifestyle changes to address underlying triggers and improve lip health.


The main treatment for Cheilitis exfoliativa involves keeping the lips moisturized and avoiding anything that can irritate them. This may include avoiding certain foods, drinks, and products that contain allergens or irritants, such as fragrances or preservatives.

Other treatments may include:

  1. Topical medications: Topical medications such as corticosteroids or calcineurin inhibitors may be used to reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process.
  2. Oral medications: Oral medications may be prescribed if the condition is severe or if topical treatments are not effective. These may include antibiotics or antifungal medications.
  3. Lifestyle changes: Making changes to your diet, lifestyle, and hygiene habits can help reduce symptoms of Cheilitis exfoliativa. This may include drinking more water, avoiding spicy or acidic foods, and using a gentle lip balm or moisturizer.
  4. Lip protectants: Lip protectants such as petroleum jelly or beeswax may be used to protect the lips from the elements and prevent further damage.
  5. Laser therapy: In some cases, laser therapy may be used to treat Cheilitis exfoliativa. This involves using a laser to remove damaged skin cells and stimulate the growth of healthy cells.

Overall, the key to treating Cheilitis exfoliativa is to keep the lips well-moisturized and avoid anything that can irritate them. With the right treatment and lifestyle changes, most people with Cheilitis exfoliativa can manage their symptoms and lead a normal, healthy life.