Angular cheilitis is a medical condition popularly known as "cracked mouth corners", that produces a sore in the corner of the mouth where the lips meet.
It is caused by the overdevelopment of fungi, or bacteria, due to the habit of constantly licking your lips, for example. This sore can affect only one side of the mouth or both at the same time, causing symptoms such as pain, redness and scaling in the corner of the mouth, as well as difficulty in opening the mouth and even eating.
Since it it caused by fungi or bacteria, angular cheilitis can be passed on to other people through kissing or using the same cup or cutlery, for example. The treatment may be done with an antibiotic or antimycotic medication.
The main symptoms of cheilitis include:
- Pain when opening the mouth, speaking or eating;
- Burning sensation;
- Increased sensitivity in the corner of the mouth;
- Dry skin;
- Redness in the corner of the mouth;
- Crust in the corner of the mouth;
- Small cracks in the corner of the mouth.
This sore in the corner of the mouth causes a lot of discomfort and sensitivity increases when eating or drinking very salty, acidic or sugar rich foods.
What can cause angular cheilitis
Cheilitis is a common situation and the main cause is the corner of the mouth always being wet, for instance when a baby uses dummies, in case of a dental prosthesis or the use of braces to correct the position of the teeth. However, angular cheilitis may also occur when corticoid inhaled medication is often used, when the lips remain dry for a long time or in cases of dermatitis.
This problem is more frequent when the immune system is weakened, as in patients with AIDS or diabetes, but in some cases, cheilitis may be a sign of oral candidiasis, which must be treated.
The main treatment for cracked mouth corners includes keeping this area always clean and dry to prevent saliva buildup. However, in most cases it’s important for the dermatologist to indicate the best treatment, and you may be advised to use ointments or healing creams to keep the sore dry. The doctor may also recommend the use of antibiotics or antifungal medication depending on the cause of the cracked mouth corner.
To heal this area faster, try having foods and drinks that boost healing, such as yoghurt or orange juice, because they can speed up the formation of tissue that may help close the sores. Salty and acidic foods should, on the other hand, be avoided to protect the area, as well as to prevent pain and discomfort.
Angular cheilitis can become a persistent mouth sore, or there may be periods when it is better and others when it gets worse again, so treatment can take between 1-3 weeks.