Cracked Lip Corners: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Updated in September 2023

Cracked lip corners are characterized by a break in the skin or sores in the the corners of the mouth where the upper and lower lips meet.

It is ​​​​caused by the overdevelopment of fungi or bacteria, or it can happen from habits like constantly licking your lips. These sores can affect only one side of the mouth or both sides, and are associated with symptoms like pain, redness and peeling in the corners of the mouth, as well as difficulty in opening the mouth and even eating.

Cracked lip corners caused by an infection and be transmitted to other people through kissing or using the same cup or cutlery, for example. Treatment for infections typically includes the use of an antibiotic or antifungal medication.

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Main symptoms

The main symptoms of cracked lip corners 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

These wounds cause a lot of discomfort and sensitivity when eating or drinking very salty, acidic or sugary foods.

What can cause it

Many people experience cracked lip corners. Its main contributor is persistently wet lips and mouth corners. This can be the case in babies who use pacifiers, for example, or people who use dentures or braces. However, people who frequently use corticoid inhalers may also notice dryer lip corners. Having persistently dry lips may also be a factor, and is having a history of dermatitis in other parts of the body.

This problem occurs more frequently when the immune system is weakened, as in patients with AIDS or diabetes. In some cases, cracked lip corners may be a sign of oral thrush, which must be treated.

Treatment options

The main treatment for cracked mouth corners includes keeping the affected area clean and dry to prevent saliva buildup. However, in most cases it’s important to see your doctor for assessment and possible treatment. You may be advised to use ointments or healing creams to stimulate cellular generation The doctor may also recommend the use of antibiotics or antifungal medication, depending on the cause of the cracked skin.

To promote quicker healing, you should try to consume food and drinks that stimulate healing like yogurt or orange juice. Certain food can speed up the regrowth of skin cells to help close wounds. Salty and acidic foods should be avoided in the meantime to protect the area and prevent any pain and discomfort.

Angular chelilitis is a chronic condition in which the lip corners develop persistent sores. With this condition, there may be periods when it is better and others when it gets worse again, so treatment can take between 1-3 weeks.