What is angular cheilitis?
Angular cheilitis is a common inflammatory condition affecting the corners of the mouth or oral commissures. Depending on underlying causes, it may last a few days or persist indefinitely. It is also called angular stomatitis, cheilosis and perleche (perlèche).
See more images of angular cheilitis.
What causes angular cheilitis?
Angular cheilitis is due to one or more of the following factors:
Who is prone to angular cheilitis?
Angular cheilitis is common and affects children and adults, especially when they are in poor health. Predisposing factors include:
- Oral thrush: infancy, old age, diabetes, systemic corticosteroid or antibiotic use
- Dentures, especially if they are poor fitting, and there is associated gum recession
- Poor nutrition: coeliac disease, iron deficiency, riboflavin deficiency
- Systemic illness, particularly inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis and Crohn disease)
- Sensitive skin, especially atopic dermatitis
- Genetic predisposition, for example in Down syndrome
- Oral retinoid medication: isotretinoin for acne, acitretin for psoriasis.
It is made worse by licking the lips.
What are the clinical features of angular cheilitis?
Angular cheilitis may result in the following symptoms and signs at the corners of the mouth:
- Painful cracks/fissures
- Blisters, erosions, oozing, crusting
It may progress to more widespread impetigo or candidiasis on the adjacent skin and elsewhere.
What investigations can be done in angular cheilitis?
The culture of swabs taken from the corners of the mouth may reveal:
Skin biopsy is not usually necessary.
What is the treatment of angular cheilitis?
In many cases, no treatment is needed and angular cheilitis resolves by itself. Depending on the specific cause, the following treatments may be useful:
See smartphone apps to check your skin.
On DermNet NZ
- Angular cheilitis – translation of DermNet NZ page into Greek language, 21 April 2019 by Vouchers Tree
- Angular cheilitis – translation of DermNet NZ page into Italian language, 9 March 2019 by FA Teknologi
- Angular cheilitis – translation of DermNet NZ page into Russian language, 12 October 2015 by Everycloudtech
- Angular cheilitis – translation of DermNet NZ page into Japanese language, 23 June 2017 by Daily Deals Coupon
- Angular cheilitis – translation of DermNet NZ page into Punjabi language, 4 January 2018 by Bydiscountcodes
- Angular cheilitis – translation of DermNet NZ page into Vietnamese language, 22 December 2015