What is angular cheilitis?

Angular cheilitis (or perleche, from the French, ‘through licking’), is a common condition resulting in the corner of the mouth becoming inflamed, cracked and red.

Angular cheilitis is most common in individuals prone to allergies (atopy); those who salivate profusely while sleeping; the elderly; people with a habit of licking their lips, and children with dental braces.

What are the causes of angular cheilitis?

Cheilitis is usually caused by excess moisture at the sides of the mouth. Licking the lips is almost always a reaction to excess moisture lingering at the sides of the mouth. Excess moisture can be caused by:

  • Use of creams
  • Application of lip balm or lipstick
  • Profuse salivation

What are the remedies for angular cheilitis?

To remedy angular cheilitis, keep the sides of the mouth scrupulously dry. Take special care not to lick the lips or sides of the mouth after drinking, eating or brushing teeth.

  • If cheilitis persists, apply PEG Balm. This hydrophilic ointment keeps the affected area dry and protected to encourage healing.

Avoid licking the lips. Note that antibiotics, while not the cause, can exacerbate angular cheilitis by introducing bacteria and yeast colonies to the infected area.

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