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Symptoms of angular cheilitis

Symptoms of angular cheilitis typically start with redness at the corners of the mouth, followed by skin peeling and the formation of cracks, which may itch and bleed when attempting to open the mouth wide, yawning, eating, or even talking. In particularly severe cases, ulcers and blisters may form at the site of the cracks, indicating the need for consultation with a dermatologist.

Angular cheilitis in the corners of the lips does not pose a serious health risk; however, bacteria can more easily penetrate the body through the cracks, leading to secondary infection that requires treatment. Cheilitis can be acute or chronic. In the latter case, it signals a weakened immune system and the need for support.

Where do angular cheilitis come from?

Angular cheilitis in the corners of the mouth is often confused with herpes. But in reality, the causative agent of these diseases is different. The appearance of herpes is caused by a virus, while angular cheilitis is caused by streptococcal infections and yeast-like fungus Candida. Streptococcal and candidal angular cheilitis differ in symptoms:

Streptococcal cheilitis, caused by streptococci, forms from a small blister. When it bursts, a small wound forms, which heals with a purulent-blood crust in 1.5-2 hours. Under the crust, there remains a small crack and a moist surface. The wound constantly itches and burns, especially during talking or eating. When yawning, the crust may crack, and the wound starts bleeding.

The clinic of candidal cheilitis differs somewhat. In the affected area, against the background of skin redness at the corner of the mouth, a deep crack with a white-gray plaque forms, which is easily removed. The cracks from candidal cheilitis are clearly visible when the mouth is open. Without treatment, the disease quickly progresses to a chronic recurrent form. Mixed forms of angular cheilitis also occur, in which all the symptoms described above are present.

Angular cheilitis in the corners of the lips can also be a secondary symptom of other diseases. Among them are:

  • Iron deficiency anemia;
  • Psoriasis;
  • Atopic dermatitis;
  • Diabetes mellitus;
  • Streptococcal skin infections;
  • HIV;
  • Peptic ulcer or duodenal ulcer;
  • Erosive gastritis.

Another cause of angular cheilitis is tooth decay, as well as other dental and oral cavity diseases that lead to pathological growth of microorganisms.

The reasons can also be less serious:

  • Lack of vitamin A and B group vitamins;
  • Allergy to cosmetics or toothpaste;
  • Improper bite or wearing braces;
  • Eating unwashed vegetables and fruits;
  • Prolonged use of certain medications, smoking.

To determine the cause of frequent occurrence of cracks in the corners of the lips, it is worth consulting a dermatologist. Experienced dermatologists practice at the LeoDerm clinic in Lviv.

How to treat angular cheilitis?

In most cases, diagnosis is not a problem because there is an obvious clinical picture. In cases of chronic, often recurrent cheilitis, dermatologists recommend conducting laboratory analysis and selecting optimal therapy.

It is important to note that microorganisms that cause crack formation are constantly present in the human intestines, as well as on the skin and mucous membranes of the oral cavity. In normal conditions, their number is small, so they are safe. However, in case of decreased immunity, disruption of hormonal or metabolic processes, as well as due to a number of other reasons, pathological growth of fungal or streptococcal colonies begins. Therefore, treatment of angular cheilitis should be comprehensive.

So what to treat angular cheilitis with? The complex treatment of angular cheilitis usually includes:

  1. Application of local remedies. The affected area is treated several times a day with antiseptics and a ointment containing either antibiotics or antifungal components. Local anesthetics are used to reduce pain. Additionally, agents promoting faster wound healing are applied.
  2. Elimination of traumatic factors (correction of dental prosthetics by a dentist, careful opening of the mouth during yawning and speaking, quitting smoking).
  3. Diet (temporary exclusion of spicy and salty foods from the diet).
  4. Thorough daily oral hygiene.
  5. Elimination of the primary disease that may have triggered the development of cheilitis. We discussed them above, but the presence or absence of internal pathologies can only be determined through differential diagnosis under the guidance of an experienced doctor. That is why do not engage in self-treatment and consult a specialist.

Prevention of angular cheilitis

You can get rid of angular cheilitis forever if you follow simple rules for lip and skin care:

  1. Before going outside, use moisturizing lip balm and sunscreen with a high level of protection (this rule applies all year round).
  2. In the evening, after all cosmetic procedures, additionally moisturize your lips, as the skin on the lips is very thin and delicate and often becomes dry.
  3. Get rid of the habit of licking your lips.
  4. Use mouthwash.
  5. Ensure an adequate intake of vitamins in your diet.
  6. As soon as you notice redness in the corners of your lips, use healing ointments; do not wait for cracks to appear.
  7. If the condition occurs regularly, it is necessary to quit smoking and limit the consumption of spicy and salty foods.

It is also worth noting that if you plan to undergo any cosmetic procedures in the lip area, such as lip augmentation with hyaluronic acid or wrinkle removal, all bacterial and viral infections, including angular cheilitis, must be treated before starting the course of procedures. This is extremely important!

If you have any questions regarding the treatment of cheilitis or any other concerns, schedule a consultation with a dermatologist at the LeoDerm clinic in Lviv. We will be happy to provide detailed answers and assist in solving any dermatological or cosmetic issues.


The information in the article is provided for informational purposes and is not intended as a guide for self-diagnosis and treatment.
If you experience symptoms of an illness, please consult a doctor.