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How to get rid of angular cheilitis

Updated February 21, 2017

Angular cheilitis or perleche is a condition that first manifests itself as sores at the corner of the mouth before enveloping the lips. It is often mistaken for herpetic cold sores. For this reason, DermNet NZ advises that you visit a dermatologist to have culture swabs taken. If herpes is ruled out, then angular cheilitis may be caused be either a fungal or bacterial infection. Seek treatment as soon as possible because the painful sores can cause the lips to swell and crack, making smiling and eating difficult.

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  1. Stop activities that worsen the condition of angular cheilitis. Dr. Neil Schultz, a Manhattan-based dermatologist, explains on Videopedia that sufferers must refrain from licking the corners of their mouths. They should also not add lip moisturiser because angular cheilitis is not a condition of dry skin despite its characteristic cracking of the lip skin. In addition to cracking, angular cheilitis of fungal origin is accompanied by burning and itching. Moisture creates an environment for candida fungi to thrive so avoid adding saliva and moisturisers.

  2. Procure an anti-fungal prescription or purchase an over-the-counter anti-fungal topical cream with generic clotrimazole as the active ingredient. Apply the prescribed medicine as ordered or put a dab of the over-the-counter medicine on the corners of the mouth four to six times a day. Cover with petroleum jelly to seal the area from saliva or moisture. The condition should clear in four to seven days.

  3. Fill your topical antibacterial prescription if your doctor determines that your angular cheilitis is the result of a bacterial infection. Angularcheilitis.com experts suggest purchasing an over-the-counter antibacterial ointment and rubbing alcohol. Clean the lips with rubbing alcohol and cover them with the antibacterial ointment. This treatment should clear the condition in two days.

  4. Prevent the recurrence of angular cheilitis by addressing the underlying cause. You may be prone to affective bacterial infection due to a vitamin deficiency or an inability to absorb nutrients from food because of weight-loss surgery or coeliac disease. Supplement your diet with iron, zinc and riboflavin by eating more leafy, green vegetables. If you are suffering from an overgrowth of candida, avoid foods with yeast and sugar. Dr. Adam Rotunda, a dermatologist in Newport Beach, California, explains on skinsight.com that reducing stressors in your life will help prevent the condition as well. Stress weakens the body's immune system, reducing the body's natural ability to fight infections.

  5. Tip

    DermNet NZ explains that certain conditions predispose people to angular cheilitis. Some of these include old age, infancy, poor fitting dentures, diabetes, poor nutrition, sensitive skin, oral acne medication, Down syndrome, coeliac disease, use of antibiotics or oral corticosteroids and inflammatory bowel disease.

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Things You'll Need

  • Anti-fungal cream
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Anti-bacterial ointment
  • Rubbing alcohol

About the Author

Sarah McLeod

Sarah McLeod began writing professionally for the federal government In 1999. In 2002 she was trained by Georgetown University's Oncology Chief to abstract medical records and has since contributed to Phase I through Phase IV research around the country. McLeod holds a Bachelor of Arts in human services from George Washington University and a Master of Science in health science from Touro University.

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