Angular cheilitis

Angular cheilitis (also called perlèche, cheilosis, or stomatitis) is a condition with deep cracks and splits at the corners of the mouth. If severe, the splits or cracks may bleed when the mouth is opened and a shallow ulcer or a crust may form.

Possible causes of angular cheilitis include:

  • Infection. Fungal infections are the most common, but viral or bacterial infections can also occur.
  • Nutritional deficiency of vitamin B.
  • Over-closure of the mouth in someone who has been without teeth or dentures for some time.

In young children, the cracks and splits often begin with lip-licking, biting the corners of the mouth, or thumb-sucking.

Treatment depends on the cause and can include lip lubrication, antifungal and antibiotic medication, vitamins, and dentures for a person without teeth.

Last Updated: September 26, 2008

Author: Jan Nissl, RN, BS

Medical Review: Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Steven K. Patterson, BSc, DDS, MPH - Dentist

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