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Causes and Treatment of Angular Cheilitis
Angular cheilitis is a skin condition that affects the corners of the mouth. This condition is chronic and inflammatory. Depending on the individual, angular cheilitis can be painful, itchy, or not bothersome at all. Angular cheilitis is characterized by dry skin at the corners of the mouth that may split and develop deep cracks. The skin may bleed, form ulcers, crust, or develop an infection.
What Causes It
Unfortunately it is not completely clear what causes angular cheilitis and there is no hard evidence on why it is caused, though there are a lot of theories from studies. It is also almost impossible to know who it will affect. It is important to note that angular cheilitis is not contagious in any way, except in the case of a fungal or bacterial infection, which could be spread. Studies have shown that angular cheilitis may be caused by deficiencies in nutrition or malnutrition.
Deficiencies in iron, riboflavin, and zinc may be a cause of angular cheilitis. It can also be a telltale sign of an eating disorder such as bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa. The condition can be caused by an eating disorder due to malnutrition and/or regular vomiting. The condition can be brought on by a fungal infection or certain types of bacteria. People who ingest liver or liver oil or that take Vitamin A supplements can also develop the condition due to the high amount of Vitamin A that is ingested.
Angular cheilitis could also be a symptom of a more serious condition. If you have a condition such as iron deficiency anemia or glossitis you are more prone to developing angular cheilitis. It can also be caused by excessive exposure to the sun or to cold, dry conditions. The weather can act to dry out the skin, leading to angular cheilitis. When caused by the weather, the condition is usually minor, but can become severe if contracting either a fungal or bacterial infection. Angular cheilitis is commonly seen in the elderly.
What to Look For
Symptoms of angular cheilitis vary. Some common signs to look out for at the corners of the mouth:
● Ulcers that have developed
● Tissue that is sore to the touch
● Dry and/or cracking skin
● Draining pus Any of these signs appearing at the corners of the mouth may be angular cheilitis.
How to Treat Angular Cheilitis
Treatment for angular cheilitis depends on the cause and severity of the condition. Most commonly it can be treated at home, especially when it is caused by weather factors or a nutritional deficiency. At-home treatments include moisturizing the area, applying antibiotic cream, and using medicated creams to numb the area for pain. If treating angular cheilitis at home, you should limit eating tough foods that need to be thoroughly chewed, and drink plenty of fluids to keep skin refreshed and hydrated to prevent further drying of the skin. You should also constantly clean the area to prevent infection.
If you have angular cheilitis that is accompanied by excessive pain, fissuring, irritation, bleeding, or has signs of an infection, you should see a medical professional immediately. Fungal or bacterial infections are common in angular cheilitis. Infections can become severe if not treated and could lead to permanent damage to the skin or face if not cared for. If you visit a medical professional for your angular cheilitis, there are various treatments they may give. Usually a topical medication is prescribed such as an antifungal or a steroid. Often the two medications are combined for an optimal effect. Oral medications may also be prescribed.