The crack at either one or both ends of the lips is a condition called angular cheilitis. Angular cheilitis causes red, dry and swollen sores at the ends of the mouth where lips meet and create an angle. This condition is also known as angular stomatitis or perleche.
The name perleche is derived from a French word, lecher which means to lick. The inflammation of the angles of the lip causes the person to lick the sores, which might provide relief at the moment but is actually worse for the condition.
Causes of Angular Cheilitis
Angular cheilitis is a fungal infection and can be caused due to a number of reasons. It is usually caused when the saliva from the mouth builds up in the corner of the mouth. A type of fungus called Candida albicans finds an ideal place to reproduce which causes the infection.
This fungus is also responsible for diaper rash in babies. Continuous licking of the lips which builds up moisture at the corners of the mouth makes it easier for the yeast to get into the cracks and contribute to increasing the infection. It may also be caused by a lack of essential vitamins and minerals in the body. Deficiencies of different B vitamins, zinc or iron may also sometimes be associated with cracked mouth corners.
There are multiple reasons why people may get angular cheilitis often. Such as people with braces are more prone to suffer from this condition. Using retainers, or dentures that do not fit properly may also be the culprit, as it affects the regulation of saliva in your mouth when you sleep.
Some health diseases may also cause cracked corners like anemia (due to iron deficiency), diabetes, Down syndrome, certain immune disorders, and cancer (kidney, blood, liver, lung or pancreatic cancer)
People may suffer from cracked corners of the mouth in any season but this conditioned is often overlooked in winters. Winters bring cracked and dry lips with them, so people often confuse angular cheilitis with dry lips and do not treat the issue properly.
The conditions can be very painful and irritating. The symptoms and signs of the inflammation at the corners of the mouth may include, bleeding from the cracks, soreness, blisters, redness, crusty corners, itchiness, pain, dryness, scaling and swelling. It may also cause the lips and mouth to feel as they are burning. People suffering from angular cheilitis may also feel hard to eat or open the mouth.
Treatment for Angular Cheilitis
Treatment for angular cheilitis is simple and can diminish within a few days using certain antifungal creams which also provide relief and soothes the wound. There are a few steps which should be followed in order to effective treatment.
The skin and corners of the mouth where the upper and lower lips meet and make an angle should be kept dry and not licked frequently. This way the infection is not likely to spread and it will give time to the cracks to heal. The doctor may prescribe antifungal or antibacterial creams such as nystatin, clotrimazole, miconazole, fusidic acid, or mupirocin.
If you are looking for home remedies then you may also use organic honey. Apply a little amount of organic honey on the affected areas twice or thrice a day. Honey has many healing properties and benefits.
If the condition keeps coming back, you may have certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies like iron, zinc or B vitamins. If the condition is not very severe try including foods enriched with iron, zinc or foods containing vitamin B.
Increasing iron levels in your body might help you heal these irritating and painful cracks. Also, take multivitamin supplements which include iron and zinc to fulfill the daily requirement of these essential vitamins and minerals of your body.