Get to Know the Top Causes of Angular Cheilitis
Many people don’t know what angular cheilitis is but they surely are familiar to those cracks on the corners of the mouth. An inflammatory skin condition marked by open lesions and fissures on the corners of the mouth, angular cheilitis is a very common skin problem that’s often seen in dermatology clinics and dental offices. It can be triggered by numerous possible factors such as the following:
Bacterial, fungal or viral infection
Most cases of angular cheilitis are fungal infections while some are bacterial or viral. Bacteria and fungi can naturally be found in the saliva. They don’t cause any problem when the person’s immune system is working at its best. When it’s not, and there’s an accumulation of saliva on the corners of the mouth, leaving the skin prone to drying and chapping, open lesions can develop and these can become infected. When that happens, a person may develop angular cheilitis.
According to experts, angular cheilitis can also be caused by nutritional deficiencies, particularly of iron and vitamin B, although not directly as stated in the New Hanover Regional Medical Center study performed in 2005. Instead, since vitamin B and iron support the immune system, deficiency in these nutrients can weaken the body’s immune resistance and make it more prone to infections including angular cheilitis.
Denture stomatitis and other dental issues
This condition refers to tissue inflammation under dentures. When the dentures are not removed or cleaned on a regular basis, yeast infections can occur. Also, poor fitting dentures can be a problem. These cause friction that in turn irritates the mouth. Apart from that, they also pave the way for saliva to accumulate on the corners of the mouth, leading to an infection. Lack of teeth particularly those at the back or near the cheeks and lips can also increase risk of angular cheilitis. That’s because this can result in bite collapse that can crack the corners of the mouth’s skin.
Habits that cause spread of bacteria
Other possible circumstances that can set off the onset of angular cheilitis include touching of the lips with dirty fingers, chewing on objects like pencils or pens, drooling while sleeping or eating, and biting of fingernails, among others. In children, bottle feeding and use of pacifier can also lead to angular cheilitis.
Not everyone living in a cold location will have angular cheilitis but they certainly are at more risk of this condition than those who live in warmer regions. Why is that? Cold weather makes people prone to chapped lips. People who have this problem commonly lick their chapped lips, thinking that it’s the best way to get the moisture back. That’s actually a big misconception. Saliva only dries up the lips further. Not only that, it can cause an accumulation of saliva on the corners of the mouth. When that happens, angular cheilitis may occur.
Use of certain products
Certain products like toothpastes and cosmetic items contain harsh ingredients that cause skin irritation. This irritation can become a bacterial infection, making a person at risk of angular cheilitis. Same is true when a person ends up using an expired product such as lip balm. This can cause contact dermatitis, and then angular cheilitis.
Certain medical conditions
Some medical conditions make it more likely for a person to have angular cheilitis. Examples of such as ailments include atopic dermatitis, Crohn’s disease, Down syndrome, and Plummer-Vinson syndrome. Being under constant stress can also be a problem since this can weaken the immune system as well.
Getting to the root cause of angular cheilitis is the first step in treating it. As most causes discussed above are linked to weak immune system and bacterial/fungal infections, it’s best for anyone with angular cheilitis to boost his/her overall health, and kill the microorganisms causing the infection using antibacterial or anti-fungal treatments.