What is angular cheilitis?
An inflammation of the angles of the lips is known as angular cheilitis. Angular cheilitis initially starts as a small sore and then the discomfort increases followed by the appearance of chapped, dry and red lesions. Both the corners of the mouth may be affected by angular cheilitis.
Though angular cheilitis can occur at any age, its incidence is more in children, elderly people and during pregnancy.
Causes and risk factors
Angular cheilitis can result from:
- Bacterial or fungal infection
- Any kind of trauma of the mouth
- Poorly fitting dentures
- Teeth malocclusion
- Drastic weight loss leading to sagging of skin
- Immunosuppression, diabetes mellitus and inflammatory bowel disease
Symptoms and signs
Symptoms are evident as lip corners being cracked. The mouth corners become sore and red. The creases on the mouth corners become prominent and the saliva buildup irritates the skin.
The common symptoms include:
- Discomfort on opening the mouth
- Swelling or redness of the corners of the mouth
- Mouth corners with fissures, cracking, crusting, scaling, ulceration and bleeding.
Rarely scars may result in the corners of the mouth due to this condition.
Physical examination can diagnose angular cheilitis. Sometimes, microbiological swabs of the anterior nares and both the angles of the mouth may be taken for further examination.
Treatment and prevention
The treatment may vary depending on the cause. Local application of a protective petroleum jelly might be helpful.
Anti-fungal and steroidal topical creams may be prescribed by the doctor.
Cracking of the mouth corners may be prevented by
- Avoiding licking and biting of lips
- Maintaining oral hygiene
Angular cheilitis can lead to acquired linear anetoderma.
Visit your doctor in case your angles of the mouth or lips are sore or red and you believe they are infected.
See your doctor immediately if you have persistent non-healing sore on the angles of the mouth.
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- Angular Cheilitis Information & Facts. Angular Cheilitis Help. Accessed 2 Mar. 16. http://www.angularcheilitishelp.org/
- Angular Cheilitis. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Accessed 2 Mar. 16. http://www.aocd.org/page/AngularCheilitis
- Angular cheilitis. College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario. Accessed 2 Mar. 16. http://www.cdho.org/Advisories/CDHO_Factsheet_Angular_Cheilitis.pdf
- Answer: Can you identify this condition? Can Fam Physician. 2007 Jun; 53(6): 1022–1023