What is the cause of angular cheilitis?


Angular Cheilitis also known as Perleche or Stomatitis causes red swollen patches in the corners on any one or both sides of the mouth. It affects people of all age groups and even infants. The inflammatory condition could last for few days or become chronic.

A yeast infection as a result of saliva is one of the common causes of Angular Cheilitis. Saliva builds up and gets trapped in the lip corners causing lips to crack. To soothe the dryness and pain of the lips, a person may lick their lips often. Excess saliva gets deposited in the corners of the mouth creating a perfect environment for yeast or other fungus to grow.

People having regular oral thrush, having an overhang of the upper lip, having sensitive skin, wearing braces, having Crohn’s disease, using antibiotics or corticosteroids regularly, using oral retinoid medication, smoking and having cancer, diabetes and anemia are at greater risk of suffering from Angular Cheilitis. Symptoms of Angular Cheilitis can frustrate the person cosmetically and be physically painfully as well.

Symptoms occur at the corners of the mouth, exclusively and vary from mild redness to bleeding and open blisters at the corners of the mouth. Corners of the mouth may become scaly, itchy, painful, crusty, red, blistered, cracked and swollen. Other symptoms include irritation causing difficulty while eating, bad taste in the mouth, a feeling of chapped or dry lips and burning feeling on the mouth or lips.


Diagnosis of Angular Cheilitis is done by the doctor or dermatologist by examining the skin, checking out other skin irritations and family and personal history. The doctor also checks out different medications the person has been taking. Culture swabs are taken from corners of the mouth and sent for lab testing.

Treatment of Angular Cheilitis includes supplement or dietary recommendation by the doctor. Other options for treatment include topical steroid ointment, topical antiseptics to ensure open wounds remain clean and using filler injections to reduce creases at corners of the mouth. Chapped lips and dry skin can be prevented by applying lip balm, coconut oil and petroleum jelly regularly.