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Monday, 1 July 2013

Angular Cheilitis and Anemia

Probing the Link between Angular Cheilitis and Anemia

Angular cheilitis and anemia have always been closely linked, with anemia pointed out as one of the possible triggers of angular cheilitis. Otherwise known as perleche, cheilosis, or mouth corner cracks, this medical condition is marked by the fissures and scaling at the labial commissures or the corners of the mouth. Experts say that iron deficiency is one of the reasons these painful open lesions rooted from a fungal or bacterial infection occur.

While there are many other possible causes of angular cheilitis (vitamin B deficiency, poor fitting of dentures, stress, and many others), iron deficiency anemia has always among those on top of the list. Since long-term treatment of angular cheilitis goes beyond alleviating surface symptoms and requires resolving the underlying issue, it’s imperative to study more about iron-deficiency anemia if this is what’s causing your problem.

What is iron-deficiency anemia?

As the term suggests, this occurs when the body is not able to store enough iron. What happens when the body does not have enough iron? As you know, iron is very important. Without it, you won’t get sufficient supply of oxygen throughout your body. Our bodies utilize iron to manufacture hemoglobin, a crucial part of the red blood cells that’s responsible for carrying oxygen. When the body has not enough iron, there won’t be enough hemoglobin, and you won’t get enough oxygen. We all know how essential oxygen is for our organs and muscles to function properly. Without it, we become weak and fatigued.

What are the causes of iron-deficiency anemia?

Having iron deficiency can be driven by several factors including:

  • Heavy menstruation
  • Diet low in iron
  • Internal bleeding (may be caused by medical issues like hemorrhoids, cancer or ulcers, or constant use of aspirin)
  • Inability of the body to absorb iron (e.g. when small intestine had been removed or when one is suffering from celiac disease).

How do you know if you have iron-deficiency anemia?

Since this medical problem usually develops gradually, signs and symptoms may not be noticeable until it’s in the serious stage. Here are some of the signs and symptoms of iron-deficiency anemia:
  • Weakness
  • Exhaustion
  • Dizziness
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Brittle nails
  • Hair loss
  • Difficulty concentrating

Angular cheilitis and anemia

A typical oral manifestation of iron-deficiency anemia is angular cheilitis. When a person suffers from anemia due to insufficient iron in the body, he/she becomes more susceptible to infections like the one that occurs in the corners of the mouth.

The good news is, this anemia caused by iron deficiency can be easily corrected, especially if discovered at an early stage. To resolve both your anemia angular cheilitis, here are your options:

Eat a diet rich in iron

Excellent sources of this mineral include beef, pork, lamb, organ meats, chicken turkey, fish, shellfish, sardines, anchovies, broccoli, kale, collard greens, pinto beans, black-eyed peas, lima beans, peas, and iron-fortified food products like cereals, pastas, and grains. Get all the recipes you will ever need at

Take iron supplements

Eating foods rich in iron can certainly help boost your intake. But since the amount of iron required by anemia patients is significantly higher than what most foods contain, you’ll need to supplement your diet with medical iron. Most patients are recommended to take in 150 to 200 mg per day. It’s two to five mg of iron per kg of body weight daily. Consult your doctor about the dosage that you need.

Up vitamin C intake

Vitamin C is great for your health not only for boosting immune resistance but also for improving the body’s absorption of iron. It’s a good idea to take 250 mg of vitamin C when taking iron supplements.

Consider intravenous iron

For severe cases of anemia, intravenous iron may be necessary. This is for patients with medical problems that inhibit their bodies from absorbing this mineral such as those with internal bleeding, and so on.

Angular cheilitis has many possible causes. It’s important to get to the bottom of what’s causing this annoying and painful problem so you can make an immediate move to resolve it for good. Learning about the underlying issue is always a good first step.


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