What Is Angular Stomatitis And What Causes It?

What is angular stomatitis and what causes it? The disease is also known as angular cheilitis, perleche or cheilitis characterized by swollen wound at the mouth corner, or inflamed lips. Severe cases of angular stomatitis may create deep splitting of the skin of the cheek and lips eventually causing bleeding along the affected areas.

The actual reason for angular stomatitis has been the subject of medical studies until now. However there are many possible angular stomatitis causes which can occur in male and female such as nutritional deficiency, bacterial and fungal infection, climate, denture problems, licking and drooling habits, genes, medicines and cosmetics.

  • Malnutrition. Some people with angular stomatitis are deficit in vitamins and minerals. Riboflavin deficiency, iron deficiency, and/ or zinc deficiency can cause angular stomatitis or angular cheilitis. Patients suffering from anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa can develop angular stomatitis because of the irregular and frequent opening and closing of the mouth as a result of constant vomiting. Old people with protein-calorie deficiency can also develop this problem and was observed in 50% of aged people in US nursing homes. In rare cases, too much vitamin A in the body from over-consumption of vitamin supplements, cod liver oil and fish oil, can also cause lesions of the lips.
  • Bacterial and fungal infection. Candida albicans, Staphylococcus aureus, and Herpes simplex can cause angular cheilitis. Culture swabs revealed that fungal infection commonly triggers cheilitis than bacteria.
  • Climate. Cold weather can cause cracked and dry lips. People living in cold climates usually experience recurrent angular stomatitis. Too much sun and wind exposure can also result to chapping and irritation of the lips and skin because of too little moisture.
  • Dental problems. Teeth problem especially in old people can cause angular stomatitis. Most old people are uncomfortable to wear dentures and this cause lack of support in the mouth resulting to cheilitis. Bad-fitting dentures can also cause angular stomatitis for people using them.
  • Habits. Some people constantly lick or bite their lips which cause the upper surface of the lips to wear off, drying the lips and triggering angular cheilitis. Even improper and frequent opening and closing of mouth can start cracks or lesions on both corners of the lips, as well as the habit of wiping mouth often with coarse fabric or hanky that can irritate the lips or mouth. Drooling especially in infants who are developing teeth may cause angular cheilitis. When the lip corners are moist all night, germs start to thrive in the saliva and cause infection.
  • Genetic disposition. People with Down syndrome are prone to develop angular stomatitis.
  • Medicines and cosmetics. Isotretinoin for acne and acitretin for psoriasis can dry the skin and result to angular cheilitis. Cosmetic products like lipstick can irritate the top layer of the lips and cause chapping which can develop into lesions.

Treating angular stomatitis depends on how mild or severe the infection is. Keeping the lesion clean so that infection won’t worsen is the initial cure for it. Home remedies, antibiotic cream and ointment can also treat mild cases. For severe cases, however, seeing the doctor is a must. He will be able to identify the angular stomatitis causes and prescribe the right medicines to treat angular cheilitis.

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