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Thursday, 11 July 2013

Angular Cheilitis or Perleche

A Quick but Definitive Guide to Angular Cheilitis or Perleche


Every important thing you need to know about angular cheilitis is included in this quick but definitive guide. If you or anyone you know is suffering from this frustrating skin condition, the first step in getting rid of the problem permanently is learning more about it.

Definition

Angular cheilitis refers to a chronic inflammatory condition of the skin that affects the labial commissures or the mouth corners. Apart from the French term “perleche,” it is also called by several other names such as cheilosis, angular stomatitis, and mouth corner cracks.

Causes

Any (or a combination) of the following can trigger the onset of this skin problem:
  • Accumulation of saliva in the corners of the mouth
  • Dry chapped lips
  • Bacteria, yeasts, fungi or virus
  • Skin conditions like contact dermatitis
  • Habits that cause saliva accumulation or spread of bacteria or fungi (thumb-sucking, fingernail biting, use of pacifier and so on)
  • Medical conditions that weaken the immune system
  • Poor-fitting dentures
  • Cold weather that causes skin dryness and chapping
Risk factors

Here’s a brief look at the top predisposing factors that put people at risk of angular cheilitis:
  • Oral thrush in babies, elderly, diabetics, or people who use antibiotics
  • Dentures
  • Malnutrition (iron or riboflavin deficiency)
  • Systemic ailments like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
  • Sensitive skin
  • Genetic predisposition
Signs and symptoms

Angular cheilitis’ manifestations include the following:
  • Cracks, splits and fissures on the corners of the mouth
  • Pain, swelling, itchiness and bleeding in the affected areas
  • Blisters, erosions and crusting
Investigation

To diagnose angular cheilitis, a doctor will perform a culture test by taking a swab from the mouth corners. This will reveal the existence of microorganisms like Candida albicans and Staphylococcus aureus.

Treatment

The good news is, angular cheilitis can possibly go away on its own without treatment. But of course, since the symptoms are often painful and bothersome, you’d want to do something about it instead of just wait. These treatment methods have been proven effective in curbing this skin problem:
It’s also a must to get to the bottom of the problem and eliminate it. For example, if your angular cheilitis is caused by poor-fitting dentures, then you need to have that fixed. Even if you use anti-fungal or antibacterial medications over and over, the problem will recur if you don’t do something about the root cause of your mouth cracks.

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