What is Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth?

Angular Cheilitis is pathological skin condition in which the corners of the mouth become cracked along with red swollen patches on the corners of the mouth just where the upper and lower lip meet each other. It is quite a painful condition which may cause pain wherever an individual tries to speak or eat as a result of irritation caused by Angular Cheilitis.

What is Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth?

What Causes Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth?

An individual may get Angular Cheilitis in one or both corners of the mouth. It is usually caused if the corners of the mouth are moist for prolonged periods of time. The corners of the mouth can become moistened due to a variety of reasons like having ill fitting dentures in the teeth, habit of licking the lips a lot, individual tends to produce excessive saliva, having crooked teeth, smoking also causes the corners of the mouth to remain moist, vitamin B and iron deficiency also tends to cause Angular Cheilitis. There are also certain medical conditions like anemia, leukemia, diabetes, HIV, or cancers of the kidney or liver that tends to cause Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth.

The root cause of Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth is the saliva getting accumulated around the corners of the mouth. This causes the skin to get cracked resulting in Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth. When this happens the individual may tend to lick the lips often to try and soothe the skin.

This warmth and moisture on the corners of the mouth act as a perfect breeding ground for fungus and bacteria resulting in infection. Fungal infection is the most common cause of Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth. Candida is the most common offending yeast which causes Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth.

What are the Symptoms of Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth?

The most common symptoms of Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth are:

  • Irritation and soreness in the corners of the mouth on one side or both the sides is a common symptom of Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth.
  • Bleeding from the cracked skin.
  • Blistering near the area of the cracked skin is also a symptom of Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth.
  • Itchiness at the corner of the mouth.
  • Pain as a result of irritation and inflammation at the corners of the mouth
  • Erythema at the corners of the mouth.
  • Swelling at the corners of the mouth.
  • Difficulty eating and talking as a result of irritation.

How is Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth, the mouth will be carefully examined by the treating physician closely inspecting the cracks, erythema, and blisters looking for any evidence of fungus. A swab of the affected area may also be taken to rule in or out a bacterial or fungal infection.

There are certain other conditions like erosive lichen planus which have symptoms similar to that of Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth and hence they have to be ruled out. Once all the other conditions are ruled out then the physician confirms the diagnosis of Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth.

How is Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth Treated?

The main aim of treatment of Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth is to keep the corners of the mouth dry so as to prevent any further infection. Antifungal creams like nystatin or ketoconazole may be prescribed to treat the fungal infection causing Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth.

In case of bacterial infection causing Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth then antibacterial medications like Bactroban may be prescribed to treat the infection and in turn treat Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth.

If there is no evidence of any bacterial or fungal infection then the physician may prescribe petroleum jelly to be applied to the corners of the mouth to reduce inflammation and protect the mouth from getting wet and thus treat Angular Cheilitis or Cracked Corners of the Mouth.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: July 8, 2017

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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