Why do mouth corners crack?

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Corners of the mouth extremely dry, cracking, burning and painful? The drying of the corners of your mouth resulting in cracks is medically called angular cheilitis or perleche. Not only can it become very painful very fast, it can also be rather embarrassing as it makes you look like someone does not take care of their hygiene.

The one major thing that you need to understand about this condition is that it may look like it occurred due to dryness of the facial skin, but putting on moisturizers or lotions is only going to worsen the problem. So the thing that you need to do immediately is see a doctor as they would best be able to prescribe a treatment.

Not sure what angular cheilitis is? Here is all the information you need.

Signs and Symptoms

The most obvious sign of angular cheilitis is dry cracks around the corners of your lips and mouth. Some other symptoms include burning or stinging in the cracks or fissures, redness, itchiness, irritation, inflammation and ulcerations. Crusts may form over the top of the crack, then split open and may result in bleeding. If not treated in time, the problem can progress and continue for months. The good thing though is that the condition does not spread from around the mouth.

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It may be surprising but research shows that an excessive use of moisturizers or accumulation of moisture may be the cause of these cracks around the mouth. When too much saliva collects at the corners due to either ill fitted dentures or some other reason, the skin starts to break apart. This leads to infection known as angular cheilitis. Some other reasons why cheilitis occurs are lack of vitamin B-12 or vitamin B-9 (folate). Sometimes some people develop allergic reaction to lipstick or toothpaste and cheilitis is the result.

Treatment and Self-Care


When you consult a doctor for this issue, they are going to recommend a topical antifungal ointment like nystatin, econazole or clotrimazole. Sometime oral medication is also prescribed. In some cases hydrocortisone creams are also given.

You can not only prevent but also cure angular cheilitis by taking some precautions. The first thing that needs to be done is to stop licking your mouth, lips and corners of mouth. Adding foods that are rich in B-complex vitamins like cereals, eggs, lean meats, leafy greens, dairy items and beans will also help in ensuring the condition does not occur.

Not wearing lipsticks or lip-glosses will also help. Also make sure that if you wear dentures, then you need to clean them regularly with 10 parts water and 1 part bleach. Rinsing the mouth saves from any bacteria accumulation.

Risks Involved

Angular cheilitis is more common in older adults or senior citizens. People who have diabetes, weak immune systems or anemia are also at higher risk of getting this condition. Make sure you are not low on folates, iron or vitamin B-12 as that too can lead to angular cheilitis.

June 6, 2017

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