Angular Cheilitis During Pregnancy: Why Expecting Mothers Are at Risk
Only a very few women can say they’ve breezed through pregnancy without a trace of difficulty. Although this can be one of the most beautiful stages in a woman’s life, it’s not without hardships. Since a woman’s body goes through all sorts of changes while a fetus grows inside her, she can be plagued with numerous problems from minor ones like morning sickness, swelling, heartburns to more serious ones like gestational diabetes, preterm labor, and preeclampsia.
Pregnant women are also at risk of infections since the body’s immune function is not at its best. One common type of infection that many expectant mothers suffer from is angular cheilitis. Also called perleche or cheilosis, this inflammatory mouth condition is marked by flaky and chapped skin, which in turn develops into open painful lesions.
Bacteria and fungi, which are the common culprits of angular cheilitis, are present in the saliva. When there’s excessive amounts of saliva on the corners of the mouth, and a person is under stress or has a weak immune system (such as during pregnancy), this can lead to a bacterial or fungal infections. It’s also important to note that angular cheilitis has been found to occur more frequently during the first trimester, when a pregnant woman is suffering from morning sickness.
Apart from this, pregnant women are also more likely to develop iron-deficiency anemia, another common trigger of angular cheilitis. As you can guess from its name, iron-deficiency anemia happens when the body doesn’t have enough iron, which it needs to manufacture hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is the oxygen-carrying protein in the red blood cells. When there’s not enough oxygen in the body, the body becomes weak and more susceptible to infections such as angular cheilitis.
What can an expecting mother do about this?
For one, it’s a must to boost immune defense. It’s for this reason that pregnant women are always advised to eat a nutrient-packed diet. A diet that’s rich in all the necessary vitamins and minerals can help ward off not only angular cheilitis but also other possible health problems. Eating more fruits and vegetables, and taking nutritional supplements are smart moves.
It’s also a must to get the right amount of iron. Expecting mothers are advised to take in 18 to 27 mg of iron a day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pregnant women should take an iron supplement of 30 mg. Fortunately, most prenatal supplements contain that amount of iron. To help your body absorb iron, take vitamin C supplements too. Avoid drinking milk, coffee or tea before taking your iron supplement as these beverages may interfere with absorption.
Moreover, make sure to eat a lot of foods that are rich in iron such as beans, tofu, raisins, shellfish, dark meat, whole grains, nuts, broccoli, collard greens, kale, dates, prunes, figs, potatoes, and iron-fortified food products like grains and cereals. Take note though that while liver is rich in iron, it’s best to avoid it since it contains too much vitamin A, which may cause birth defects.
Angular cheilitis is a common problem among pregnant women but the good news is that with proper diet and health supplements, it can be avoided and treated.