Angular cheilitis, also known as cheilosis, angular stomatitis or perlèche, is a common dermatological condition marked by cracks forming around the corners (angles) of the mouth and skin dryness. It can cause some discomfort especially during eating and laughing and can trigger social anxiety in public places. This condition affects both men and women.
People with genetic disorders such as Down Syndrome are prone to angular cheilitis. People who suffer from ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn disease, as well as those with sensitive or dry skin are more likely to catch the condition.
Causes of angular cheilitis
The causes of angular cheilitis vary with each individual. One or more of the following factors can bring about the condition.
- The frequent dribbling of saliva on the mouth corners can cause eczematous cheilitis, a form of contact dermatitis.
- Bacterial, viral or yeast infection which can intensify into cold sores, oral thrush, and impetigo.
- Constantly dry or chapped lips
- Lack of teeth in elderly people can lead to upper lip overhang around the mouth corners which can cause angular cheilitis.
- Seasonal changes like winter and extreme summer heat. Overexposure to the sun can cause chapped lips. While it can bring some relief, wetting the dry lips with saliva can only aggravate the condition.
- Topical applications like tretinoin and A vitamin derivatives can cause the skin to become dry.
- Poor diet, dehydration, vitamin B2 deficiency, zinc and iron deficiency, and malnutrition caused by bulimia and anorexia nervosa can also cause angular cheilitis.
- Poor oral and dental hygiene and improper facial care.
- Exposure to allergens or irritants
The fissures around the mouth corners can split during severe condition and cause more damage on the skin surface. The opening and closing of the mouth can cause further damage and bleeding, which results in ulceration and the formation of crust. Medical treatment is recommended upon reaching this stage to lessen the risk of infection. Although oral medication and topical applications can help cure angular cheilitis, vitamins and natural remedies can hasten the healing process.
Angular cheilitis treatment
In most instances, angular cheilitis usually goes away by itself without the need for medical treatment. The physician determines the type of treatment required based on what brought about the infection. Below are some of the often prescribed medications to treat angular cheilitis.
Oral medications. These include oral antifungal medicines, antibiotics, and food supplements that contain riboflavin or vitamin B2. What’s more, the angles of the lips can be repaired with the use of filler injections or implants.
Some natural home remedies for angular cheilitis
There are certain natural home remedies that can help ease the symptomatic discomfort of angular cheilitis. Some of these natural cures involve the application of herbal preparations or blends made from various natural sources around the mouth corners. Be sure to choose the right one as treatment tends to vary with each individual.
Soaking the affected area in saline solution for a few minutes can help accelerate the healing time. The salt water solution prevents the development of bacteria and destroys the microorganisms in the affected area. Additionally, water with salt or chlorine can help prevent the formation of unsightly scabs or scars.
Another alternative treatment is cleaning the affected area with salt water and white vinegar applied with a cotton swab moistened with hydrogen peroxide. The mouth corners should be completely cleaned before a petroleum-based topical antibiotic could be applied.