online doctor logo

What is the Fastest Way to Get Rid of Angular Cheilitis?

Angular Cheilitis

What is the Fastest Way to Get Rid of Angular Cheilitis?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Mavra Farrukh

Overview

Diagnosis, Etiology and Management Angular cheilitis (AC) is a common clinical entity described over a millennium ago. It is an inflammatory condition characterized by redness, moist maceration, ulceration, and crusting at the angles of the mouth. The cause of Angular Cheilitis is quite diverse and tricky to pin down as it is a multifactorial disorder of infectious origin. Consequently, many local and systemic reasons may lead to Angular Cheilitis. 

While considering local reasons, any factor that creates a chronic and moist environment for microbial growth at the lip angles can cause Angular Cheilitis. These include habitual lip licking, thumb sucking or biting the corners of the mouth, the reduced vertical height of the face, and sagging of tissues at the angles of the mouth, to name a few. Nutritional deficiencies, including iron and vitamin B family (riboflavin, pyridoxine, cobalamin, and niacin,) are causative agents of Angular Cheilitis. 

Although most of the time, Angular Cheilitis could be a straightforward diagnosis, an investigation into the exact cause is critical. Angular Cheilitis can signify more threatening systemic conditions such as Plummer-Vinson syndrome, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, orofacial granulomatosis, etc. Therefore, investigation to rule out the cause of Angular Cheilitis to provide effective treatment to relieve the patient’s discomfort and pain.

Angular Cheilitis is also known as angular stomatitis, commissural stomatitis, angular cheilosis, rhagades, or perleche. Rhagades are fissuring of the skin in areas of motion, particularly the labial commissures and nose.

What is Angular Cheilitis?

Angular Cheilitis is a descriptive diagnosis of an inflammatory skin process of varied etiology of the angle of the mouth. It refers to a localized lip inflammation (i.e., “cheilitis,” derived from the Greek word chilos or “lips”) that is different from the more generalized cheilitides that have different causes. The angles of the mouth are points of interface for the squamous epithelium of the face and oral mucosa. They are also mechanically dynamic hinges for the oral aperture that endures more motion and tensile forces than the rest of the lips. Thus, the commissures are especially susceptible to specific stresses.

Diffuse cheilitides may result from environmental, chemical, or infectious exposures. They may also reflect an internal condition, deficiency, or derangement. They include eczematous Cheilitis, contact cheilitis, drug-induced Cheilitis, infective Cheilitis, actinic Cheilitis, glandular Cheilitis, granulomatous Cheilitis, exfoliative Cheilitis, plasma cell cheilitis, and nutritional Cheilitis. We will not discuss diffuse cheilitides here.

Angular Cheilitis is an umbrella term for the constellation of conditions that cause cracking of mouth corners, irritation, crusting, and maceration abutting the corners of the mouth. People with Angular Cheilitis do not have involvement in the entirety of the lips.

Angular Cheilitis occurs most frequently in older people because of anatomic changes accompanying aging and promotes the intensification of saliva in the corners of the mouth. This develops most frequently in individuals with ill-fitting dentures and those who smoke.

Angular Cheilitis does not spread beyond the corners of a person’s mouth, as it is not contagious. But not treating the infection can spread elsewhere in the body. 

Do you have Cracks, Dryness, and Inflammation on the Angle of the Mouth? Consult with our Doctor to know if it is Angular Cheilitis.

Angular Cheilitis Atages

The following are the stages of Angular Cheilitis

Stage 1. Minor Angular Cheilitis

This is characterized by small flaky skin at the corners of the mouth. You will experience tightness at the corners of the mouth and slight discomfort whenever you open your mouth wide.

Stage 2. Mild Angular Cheilitis

When you suffer from mild Angular Cheilitis, you will notice tightness and discomfort in the corners of your mouth. You will feel uncomfortable whenever you will try to open your mouth wide. You will also start noticing flaky skin and redness at the corners of the mouth. 

Stage 3. Severe Angular Cheilitis

The third stage is characterized by discomfort and pain. Whenever you will try to talk, eat or do anything else that demands you to open your mouth. You will notice the lesions in the corners of your mouth. Neosporin, chapstick, and other ointments usually used to heal Angular Cheilitis will not work.

Stage 4. Chronic Angular Cheilitis

You will heal over several months when you suffer from Chronic Angular Cheilitis, but the symptoms will return. Dryness and cracks resulting from Angular Cheilitis will always cause severe discomfort and pain.

Symptoms of Angular Cheilitis

Angular Cheilitis can cause bleeding or blistering on the corners of the mouth. The skin may crack and crust, primarily if a bacterial infection occurs. The affected area may become red and swell, which may worsen when the individual licks their lips. This condition is more common in the elderly and the young due to increased elasticity of skin and denture and pacifier use, respectively. Depending on the underlying cause, the symptoms may last a few days or persist indefinitely. 

Symptoms of angular Cheilitis will exclusively appear at the corners of the mouth. The symptoms can be painful, ranging from mild redness to open bleeding blisters.

The corners of your mouth may be:-

  • Blistered
  • Crusty
  • Itchy
  • Painful
  • Bleeding
  • Red
  • Swollen
  • Cracked

Other symptoms of angular Cheilitis may include:

  • Redness on the palate of the mouth
  • Deep cracks (called fissures)
  • Saliva at the corners of the mouth
  • Saliva at the corners of the mouth
  • Oral yeast infection (thrush)
  • Eczema-type rash on the lower face
Consult one of our Doctors Online to Seek Help for the Diagnosis of Angular Cheilitis.

What Causes Angular Cheilitis?

In a few cases, there is no apparent cause of Angular Cheilitis. It often starts when the corners of someone’s mouth stay moist for a long period. People then lick their lips, which dries the corners of the mouth and leads to Angular Cheilitis. Licking or Rubbing the infected area can worsen the issue, intensifying the pain.

Other Angular cheilitis causes include:

Dryness of skin: Angular Cheilitis can be caused by dryness of the corner of the mouth due to a collection of saliva. If the skin becomes too dry, The irritated areas may crack open or peel and sometimes bleed, allowing bacteria and fungi to infiltrate and cause inflammation or infection.

Candida, or Yeast: This is a common cause of infection that can make the area itch or burn. Common bacterial infections, including staph and strep, can also occur. There may even be multiple infections. For instance, a person can have yeast and a bacterial infection known as a polymicrobial infection.

Skin diseases: Common underlying causes include atopic dermatitis (i.e., eczema); yeast infections of the mouth, such as oral candidiasis (i.e., thrush).

Drooling during sleep: Collection of saliva on the angles of the mouth, causing irritant dermatitis, creating ideal conditions for Angular Cheilitis.

Poor-fitting dentures: Individuals who wear poorly fitting dentures can also experience dry corners of the mouth.

Excessive skin sagging: In addition, those with excess skin sagging on the corners of their mouths (i.e., marionette lines) are more prone to dry, chapped lips and upper lip overhang resulting in deep furrows at the corners of the mouth.

Use of Pacifiers and thumb sucking in children: Babies typically use pacifiers, suck their thumbs, and drool, which can irritate their mouths.

Comorbidity and chronic conditions: Other causes for angular Cheilitis include chronic health conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or diabetes

 Vitamin deficiencies: Vitamin B deficiencies (e.g., vitamin B1, B2, B3, B9, and B12), iron, and protein can increase the chance of someone developing angular Cheilitis. These factors contribute to a greater risk of cracks forming in the skin, allowing for bacterial entry. 

Wear a mask: The use of masks during the COVID-19 pandemic increased the risk of skin conditions and dermatitis, including angular Cheilitis.

How do you diagnose Angular Cheilitis?

A doctor or dermatologist usually diagnoses Angular Cheilitis. He will examine the patient’s mouth and check for other skin irritations in the body. He will ask about medications and lifestyle and will review personal and family health history. As angular Cheilitis is a sign of a fungal or bacterial infection, the doctor may decide to take culture swabs from the patient’s mouth and send it to a lab. But, this is usually done if previous treatments are unsuccessful. 

Consult one of our Doctors Online to Seek Help for the Diagnosis of Angular Cheilitis.

How to Treat Angular Cheilitis?

In most cases, no treatment is needed, and angular Cheilitis resolves. Treating Angular Cheilitis depends on the underlying cause. If your doctor determines that angular Cheilitis results from a nutritional deficiency, they’ll likely suggest specific dietary or supplement recommendations.

Treatment in Fungal Angular Cheilitis

If a yeast infection causes angular Cheilitis, your doctor may prescribe anti-fungal medicine that you’ll apply to an affected area of your mouth or Oral anti-fungal.

Treatment in Bacterial Angular Cheilitis

Your doctor will likely recommend you a cream or topical antibiotic ointment.

Other treatments include

  • Topical steroid ointment
  • Topical antiseptics to keep mouth sores clean
  • Filler injections to decrease the creases at the corners of the mouth

There are following steps you can take to reduce dry mouth symptoms. 

  • chew sugar-free gum
  • stay well hydrated by drinking water frequently throughout the day
  • suck on hard candies or lozenges
  • Use a humidifier 

How to Get Rid of Angular Cheilitis?

Strict skin care and good hygiene can help prevent angular Cheilitis. Keeping the skin moistened around your mouth and free from irritation will reduce the likelihood of bacteria or yeast buildup.

Angular Cheilitis Treatment at Home

The following are a few home remedies that can help you to minimize the skin irritation caused by angular Cheilitis and promote skin healing:

Petroleum jelly

This can be used to lubricate the dry patches around the mouth. Petroleum jelly, like regular moisturizers, does not contain chemicals that further irritate your already-sensitive skin.

Petroleum jelly provides intensive hydration thanks to its thick consistency and creates a protective layer over the skin to save it from further damage as the wound heals. This speed-up skin repair relieves irritation and reduces the risk of secondary and recurrent infection. 

How to use:

  • Mix five drops of tea tree oil with a small quantity of petroleum jelly.
  • Apply the mixture to the affected skin area.
  • Leave it for about an hour so that it seeps well into your skin.
  • Clean your skin and apply plain petroleum jelly.

Note: Never lick your lips after putting on the mixture because intake of tea tree oil can have harmful effects.

Have an Angular Cheilitis? Consult one of our Doctors Online for Treatment.

Coconut oil

It works well to heal the mouth’s cracked, dry corners. It has hydrating properties that keep the skin nourished and moist to avoid dryness. Coconut oil is credited with antimicrobial properties that help combat the underlying infection to accelerate recovery. 

How to use:

Moisturize the dry patches with organic extra virgin coconut oil multiple times daily. You can mix in a drop of tea tree oil for added benefits, but make sure not to lick the treated skin afterward.

Aloe vera

It is renowned for its skin-healing properties that can prove effective against angular Cheilitis. The water-rich gel of this plant cools and hydrates dry irritated skin.

Aloe vera’s antiseptic and anti-fungal effects help curb the fungal overgrowth responsible for the infection. It also works as an anti-inflammatory agent that relieves the pain, dryness, and itching associated with the condition.

How to use:

  • Cut an aloe vera leaf, scoop out its gel, and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.
  • Gently massage the chilled gel onto the corners of your mouth.
  • Let it dry for about 15–20 minutes before washing it with cool water.

Honey

Honey is another ingredient with multiple therapeutic properties that can heal various skin ailments, including angular Cheilitis. A natural humectant imparts moisture to the skin and seals it for prolonged hydration.

Additionally, honey exhibits antiseptic properties that help disinfect the skin for quick healing. It also helps curb the underlying inflammation to ease the pain, itching, and skin irritation.

How to use:

  • Apply honey to the affected area. You can also mix it with some mashed cucumber for better results.
  • Leave it for 15 minutes before washing it off.
Consult one of our Doctors Online for Expert Advice and Guidance on How to Get Rid of Angular Cheilitis.

Risk Factors

Most people with Angular Cheilitis have at least one risk factor, which is diabetes. Diabetes can weaken its immune system, making it more vulnerable to yeast infections related to AC. Many people with diabetes have skin problems, including infections. Diabetes can also damage a person’s gums and teeth, leading to tooth loss and dentures and increasing the risk of angular Cheilitis.

Other risk factors are

  • Sensitivity and allergies. People who have a history of atopic dermatitis and allergic dermatitis tend to be more sensitive:
  • Certain ingredients in an acne product
  • Dental care products, like toothpaste and mouthwash
  • Specific foods due to flavorings and preservatives, certain ingredients in lip cosmetics, nickel in orthodontic braces
  • A weak immune system. HIV, AIDS, and chemotherapy treatment can affect the immune system.
  • Genetics. Such as Down syndrome
  • Nutritional issues. Anemia or a poor diet can make the body more vulnerable to certain infections.
  • Thrush. It is a yeast infection of the mouth.
  • Tooth and gum issues. Wearing dentures, mainly if they are poorly fitting or have a poor bite.
  • Infections. A virus in or near the mouth is a cold sore.
  • Parched and chapped lips. If the lips are too dry, they crack open, and it is easier for viruses, bacteria, and yeast to invade.
  • Vitamin and mineral deficiencies. These include people with vitamin B, zinc, and iron deficiencies, which can affect older people and those who have had bariatric surgery. It can also affect individuals who have the following conditions:
    • Celiac disease
    • Chronic gastritis
    • Chronic pancreatitis
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • Sjögren’s disease

Complications

Many cases of Angular Cheilitis are comparatively easy to treat. Once your doctor identifies the cause, you’ll definitely want to treat it. If it’s the result of a fungal, bacterial infection, then the disease could spread to nearby skin. It could also spread to oral thrush if it’s not treated appropriately.

Rarely, if chronic or left untreated, Angular Cheilitis can cause permanent scarring and discoloration of the skin.

Is Angular Cheilitis Contagious?

Angular Cheilitis is not contagious. It does not spread to other body parts or individuals, but it may spread to the other corner of your lips, 

Due to their similarities in clinical presentation, angular Cheilitis is commonly confused with cold sores caused by the herpes virus, which is contagious. 

Mouth sores (cold sores) are contagious because their cause is a virus. Whereas yeasts and bacteria only grow in Angular Cheilitis fissures with the passage of time because of continuous exposure to saliva.

If you are still determining if your sore is angular Cheilitis or a cold sore, it’s best to avoid contact with others people until you’ve received a proper diagnosis.

Worried if you can Develop Angular Cheilitis, Consult with our Doctor on the Risk of Having it with Comorbidities.

Angular Cheilitis vs Cold Sore

Sores from Angular Cheilitis is less common than cold sores, but they often look similar. Angular Cheilitis causes redness, inflammation, and irritation at the corners of the mouth.

While a virus causes cold sores, angular Cheilitis can be caused by several different things, including fungal infection. Therefore, it requires other treatments.

The first step to eliminating sores at the edges of the mouth is to find out what’s the cause. Read on to learn how to differentiate oral herpes from angular Cheilitis and how each is treated.

Similarities

Cold sores are also called oral herpes. Their symptoms are similar to angular Cheilitis. Both conditions cause rawness, redness, and inflammation around the corners of your mouth. This is the reason two are often mistaken for one another. 

Differences

Oral herpes causes fluid-filled blisters at the corners of the mouth and around the lips. They go through five stages, from emergence to healing. The five stages are as follows:

  1. Burning, an itching feeling develops underneath the skin, indicating that a cold sore is forming.
  2. Fluid-filled cold sore blisters grow on or around the mouth.
  3. The blisters burst and release their fluids.
  4. The core sores then dry into a brown and yellow crust.
  5. Cold sore scabs heal, and the skin around the mouth looks healthy once again.

Angular Cheilitis, by comparison, only affects the skin at the corners of the mouth. It doesn’t cause fluid-filled blisters, only cracked, dry, and irritated skin that becomes vulnerable to infection.

What Vitamins Should I Take for Angular Cheilitis?

Dietary deficiency of specific vitamins and minerals can cause angular Cheilitis. These include

  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin). Primary food sources include milk and dairy products, cereals, brewer’s yeast, meats (especially organ meats), and some green leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin). Primary food sources include peanuts, rice, bean, liver, kidney, food yeasts, avocado, fish, eggs, and lean meats.
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). Primary food sources include yeast, brown rice, sunflower seed, rice, soya beans, nuts, egg yolk, bananas, rockmelon, liver, wheat germ, fish, chicken, beef, potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage and avocados. Foods that have been processed, such as bread, cakes and confectionery, contain almost no vitamin B6.
  • Iron. See the Iron Deficiency Diet on Healthpoint.
Consult one of our Online Doctors to Discuss What Vitamins will Help you Reduce the Recurrence of Angular Cheilitis.

FAQs About Angular Cheilitis Answered By your Doctor Online Team

Can Angular Cheilitis cure by itself?

Many times no treatment is required, and it heals by itself.

Can stress cause Angular Cheilitis?

Stress can affect your immune system, which can, for some people, lead to angular Cheilitis. 

How long does Angular Cheilitis take to clear?

The condition often goes away in two weeks after starting treatment. Angular Cheilitis can result in scarring or soft, thin skin if it isn’t treated.

What is the fastest way to cure Angular Cheilitis?

Overnight cure of Angular cheilitis is not possible but a fast way to help to heal is as follows. 
1. Avoid skin irritants like harsh toothpaste, mouthwashes, and spicy foods. Apply cool or an ice compress to the corners of your mouth.  
2. Stay out of the sun and extreme cold or wind.
3. Use ointments or lip balm to keep the corners of your mouth moisturized.

Get Started Today

Talk to online doctors now and get medical advice, online prescriptions, refills, and medical notes within minutes. On-demand healthcare services at your fingertips.

talk to online doctor 24/7 free