Although it seems like angular cheilitis is nothing to be worried about - that it’s nothing more than an unsightly and embarrassing medical problem - it can actually become a chronic ailment if not treated properly. Apart from inflicting serious damage on a person’s self-esteem, it can take a toll on one’s overall health.
More commonly known as “mouth corner cracks,” angular cheilitis is a prevalent skin condition affecting the area around the lips, particularly the corners. This causes redness, inflammation, cracks, and ulceration on the corners of the mouth. It is also usually painful and itchy.
The open lesions can make mundane activities like talking and eating extremely uncomfortable. In severe cases, the cracks bleed whenever the mouth is opened. This condition, which can last from days to months, is typically linked to a fungal or bacterial infection.
To avoid the more serious manifestations, it’s a must to get immediate medical care and attention. And the first step toward this is to learn more about angular cheilitis, including its causes, signs and symptoms, and treatment methods.
CausesAngular cheilitis affects both genders and all ages. It can be caused by numerous factors such as the following:
- Fungal or bacterial infection – Angular cheilitis is most commonly caused by a fungal infection (Candidiasis) but it can also be due to bacterial (Staphylococcal) or viral infections.
- Malnutrition – Deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals such as iron and B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, and cyanocobalamin) weakens the immune system and makes one susceptible to this condition.
- Cold weather – In cold weather, people are more prone to chapped lips. Licking chapped lips is a common practice but it's actually more harmful than beneficial. While it seems to bring temporary relief to lip cracks and dryness, licking can in fact trigger the onset of angular cheilitis. This is because saliva isn’t an effective skin moisturizer. Instead, it shoots up the risk of bacterial infection.
- Excessive moisture on the lips – Having too much moisture in the folds of the mouth promotes the growth of bacteria, which can eventually cause irritation and an infection.
- Bottle feeding, pacifier use or sucking of the thumb for babies – These activities leave excess moisture in a baby’s mouth. Since babies don’t have strong immune systems yet, they’re vulnerable to angular cheilitis.
- Certain toothpastes and cosmetic products – Some products contain harsh ingredients that harm the skin and cause irritation. When irritation turns into a bacterial infection, a person is more likely to develop angular cheilitis. Expired lip balms, among other similar products, also pose a risk. Their use can trigger contact dermatitis, which may lead to angular cheilitis.
- Poor fitting of dentures – People who wear ill-fitting dentures are also in danger of this skin ailment. That’s because the friction from an improper fit can cause mouth irritation. Other than that, it promotes buildup of saliva at the corners of the mouth, increasing the risk of infection.
- Medical conditions – Some medical conditions are known to trigger angular cheilitis. These include Plummer-Vinson syndrome, Down syndrome, atopic dermatitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
- Stress – Constant physical or emotional stress can activate the formation of lesions on the mouth, making a person more prone to angular cheilitis.
Signs and symptomsThe most obvious sign of angular cheilitis is the cracking of the mouth corners. The cracks are usually accompanied by swelling, tenderness, and redness. In extreme cases, crusts, sores, or ulcers form. These can bleed and release pus whenever the mouth is opened.
A person suffering from this condition also experiences severe pain and discomfort while speaking, eating, smiling, or even just opening the mouth. Itching may likewise occur due to the continuous cracking of the open lesions at the mouth corners.
DiagnosisA culture test is performed to diagnose angular cheilitis. This test determines what particular type of infection occurred, whether it’s bacterial, viral, or fungal. To conduct a culture test, a doctor obtains a swab from the affected area of the mouth. The sample is viewed under the microscope to check for strains of microbes like Staphylococcus aureus, Herpes simplex, or Candida albicans.
Angular Cheilitis TreatmentThis inflammatory skin disorder can be treated in various ways, depending on the root cause. It’s therefore important to find out first what exactly is causing the problem before deciding on a course of action. Here are some of the treatment methods for angular cheilitis:
- Topical anti-fungal for fungal infections and anti-bacterial medications for bacterial infections.
- Discontinued use of the cosmetic product triggering the allergic response.
- Use of lip balm with moisturizer and UV protection, especially in cold weather.
- Avoidance of activities like pacifier use and thumb sucking in younger children.
- Vitamin B and iron supplements for those with nutritional deficiencies.
- A diet rich in B vitamins and iron. This would include dairy products, fortified bread and cereals, lean meat, green vegetables, whole grains, fish, eggs, potatoes, cabbage, and fruits.
- Re-fitting of dentures to avoid lip irritation due to friction and saliva buildup.
Natural remediesFortunately, there are many things you can do to alleviate the pain and discomfort that this skin irritation brings. Here are some home remedies that you may want to try:
- Drink eight glasses of water every day to keep yourself hydrated. This is especially helpful in cold dry weather. Use a straw to keep the areas around your mouth dry.
- Rub fresh cucumber slices on the affected area. Cucumber has cooling qualities that can help reduce the pain and irritation.
- Apply aloe vera on the corners of the lips to soothe the itchiness.
- Eat a healthy diet to address vitamin or mineral deficiency concerns. This also helps speed up the healing process.
- Avoid licking the lips as this will only make matters worse. Instead use a moisturizing lip balm for your chapped lips.
- Apply olive oil on your lips to keep them moisturized. Other items found in your home that you can also try include unsalted butter and cocoa.
Useful guidesThanks to the Internet, any person suffering from angular cheilitis now has instant access to informational resources. And the options are not limited to reputable health websites that provide overviews and background information about the ailment. There are also practical eBooks featuring in-depth guides on how to manage this skin condition.
One such eBook is the “Angular Cheilitis Free Forever” by Jason White. It’s a 40-page guide chock-full of tips and guides on how to eliminate angular cheilitis for good. It was written with the objective of helping people cope with this condition and prevent it from coming back.
White goes through an extensive explanation of his tried-and-tested treatment methods through the following sections of the eBook:
- Lessons From A Special Doctor
- Supplementing With Superfoods
- 177 Ways To Burn Calories
- The Healing Power of Water
- The Seven Secrets To A Good Diet
- 45 Nutrition Secrets Revealed
- The Restorative Power of Water
The author, who also suffered from angular cheilitis many years back, serves up a series of effective techniques that he had used himself. He even offers a 60-day money-back guarantee if there is no significant improvement in the condition after eight weeks.
The eBook has been receiving favorable reviews online, with most users saying that it’s a legitimate program that yields positive results.
“I’ve had angular cheilitis for years now. I’ve tried almost everything and so far, nothing has worked for me. I’m glad I bought this eBook and experienced great relief after using the methods for about two and a half months.” –Karen H, New Jersey
“I like that the eBook is so detailed and easy to follow. Almost everything I need for the treatments I didn’t have to buy, they’re available at home.” –Louie J, Texas
“At first, I thought that the treatments were generic, and that some of them could be found online anyway, but turns out the eBook offered more tips that many don’t know, and how to go about those methods in specific ways. It doesn’t tell you to just eat healthy, it tells you what exactly to eat, and so on.” –Joe P, Virginia.
Angular cheilitis isn’t something you can ignore or wait out. It can become a chronic condition if not treated properly. Be sure to get to the bottom of the problem and find an effective and suitable method for eliminating it for good before it hampers your self-confidence and well-being.