If you suffer from a recurrent problem where the skin at the corners of your mouth becomes irritated and develops small cracks, it is likely you have a condition known as angular cheilitis (also called perlèche, cheilosis or angular stomatitis). If the condition becomes severe, the cracks can bleed and then crust over or ulcerate, making it difficult to eat or open the mouth.
The cracks typically develop due to the collection of moisture (saliva) at the corners of the mouth. This encourages invasion by the Candida albicans yeast or by bacteria and a resulting infection. It is more prevalent in people who lick their lips often, suck their fingers or breathe through the mouth.
Age-related changes to the architecture of the mouth (for example after the loss of teeth) and poorly fitting dentures can cause an over-closure of the mouth, thus increasing the risk. It is also thought that people who have a vitamin B, iron or zinc deficiency are more susceptible. Unlike cold sores, which are caused by a type of herpes virus, angular cheilitis is generally not contagious.
Managing angular cheilitis symptoms
- Avoid eating spicy or acidic foods or drinks as this will irritate the cracked corners of the mouuth
- Some mouthwashes and toothpastes may irritate the skin, so stick to mild and sensitive brands.
- Avoid lipsticks that increase the dryness as this can make the cracking worse.
- Using a lib balm will help relieve the symptoms and soothe the discomfort but will do little to remove whatever is causing the inflammation (usually a yeast or bacterial infection – see next section on treatment).
Conventional treatment for angular cheilitis
For minor yeast infections, an over the counter topical antifungal cream may be enough to treat the condition. (Note we have a section of this website dedicated to providing information on how to treat yeast infection). If the inflammation is the result of a bacterial infection (less common), applying an antiseptic cream can be effective.
Bear in mind that if mechanical predisposing factors are present (for example ill-fitting dentures), these should be changed. A course of oral iron and vitamin B supllmenets is also recommended.
Alternative natural treatments – A remarkably effective angular cheilitis home remedy
Some sufferers find that topical treatments for cracked corners of the mouth only mask the symptoms of angular cheilitis and do not eliminate the cause. Recurrent infections are common and the disease can become chronic in nature.
Far better to tackle the “internal angular cheilitis environment” as explained in this step-by-step program by Katherine Sage, a former angular cheilitis sufferer.
Her program takes 2 simple ingredients that most people have in their home and ensures a quick (usually overnight) and permanent cure. If you suffer from this condition we think you’ll like what she has to say. Click here for the details.
For more information have a look at this Angular cheilitis treatment FAQ page.