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HealthInfo Waitaha Canterbury

Angular cheilitis

Ero ā-waha

Angular cheilitis is a common inflammatory skin condition that causes cracks, crusting and redness at the corners of the mouth and around the lips.

It can be short lasting (acute) or long lasting (chronic). It's also called angular stomatitis, cheilosis and perleche.

Causes of angular cheilitis include:

Your chance of getting angular cheilitis may increase if you have:

Symptoms of angular cheilitis

You may notice the following on one corner or (more commonly) both corners of your mouth:

Preventing angular cheilitis

The following steps may you prevent angular cheilitis:

Try not to lick the corners of your mouth as this dries them out and makes them crack more.

Diagnosing angular cheilitis

There is no test for angular cheilitis but your doctor may take swabs from the corner of your mouth to check for infections.

Treating angular cheilitis

Angular cheilitis often clears up itself without needing treatment but depending on the cause, treatment can include antibiotic or antifungal medicines. Apply lip balms frequently to prevent cracks forming.

Your doctor may advise you to use emollients (moisturisers), particularly if dribbling saliva is an issue. They may prescribe medicines if you have low iron, vitamin B12 or folate levels.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed August 2021.

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Page reference: 131629

Review key: HIANC-131629