Are you inadvertently contributing to angular cheilitis development?

Sometimes, we’re our own worst enemies, engaging in a variety of bad habits that are counter-productive and self-injurious, one way or another. While it’s not a hard and fast rule that we cause our own suffering, it’s sometimes instructive to look within and see what, if anything, we’re doing to contribute to a given problem. As such, let’s examine angular cheilitis and see whether certain habits or unfavorable life-style choices are providing fuel to this fire. The following provides a brief checklist of concerns that may be adversely affecting lips, if not our bodies:

1) Licking lips – Although saliva does contain beneficial bacteria and other allies, such as enzymes, it also has an unsavory concoction of microbes. Consequently, you really don’t want saliva to migrate outside the mouth, tongue-kissing notwithstanding. Saliva collects on the corner crevices of the mouth where bacteria and/or fungi put up residence. Such baneful microorganisms can then undermine us by producing angular cheilitis.

2) Dirty or ill-fitting dentures – Obviously, this pertains to older folks who just happen to be plagued more by angular cheilitis than their younger counterparts. Those who wear dentures have to ensure that they’re antiseptic and spotless. Once again, microbes can move from denture to mouth, wreaking havoc. In addition, dentures that are not properly fit can contribute to saliva overflow, and foster the same type of problems that engender from licking lips.

3) Disregarding oral hygiene – Consistent teeth brushing and flossing are essential to ensure a clean mouth. Spend ample time brushing as a once and done procedure is not sufficient and remind yourself to thoroughly clean your toothbrush before using. Flossing is also paramount to reach those places between the teeth, harboring decayed food. You need to get rid of that sticky bacteria-laden film and protect your gums and teeth by removing plaque and tartar. Remember, bacteria that are left to roam the mouth can cause serious health conditions. Heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory illness have all been linked to flourishing, unchecked bacteria (not necessarily ascribed as the cause but a contributing factor). And by the way, angular cheilitis has been connected to mouth bacteria, too.

4) Stress, an unhealthy diet, and anything else that disempowers your immune system – When our natural defenses are compromised, any illness or condition can more readily manifest. Stress, in particular, can lead to a host of problems including headaches, elevated blood pressure, upset stomach, chest pain, insomnia, and skin problems. Anxiety can immobilize defending white blood cells, rendering them helpless against certain bacteria strains. Compound stress with a poor diet lacking in critical nutrients, and our killer cells don’t serve to optimally protect us. This is why stress and vitamin/mineral deficiencies have a correlation to angular cheilitis – not necessarily a direct cause it but fomenting the conditions for it to more easily occur.

5) Taking medications – Certain medication, such as Accutane, produce side effects, such as drying of the skin and lips. This excessive dryness can spur on licking of the lips, which is taboo #1 above. Perhaps the fact that Accutane also increases the body’s Vitamin A levels may create more favorable conditions for perleche to form. Be that as it may, you may have no choice but to take a given medication but be cognizant of the side effects, and speak to your doctor about mitigating risks.

Use the above list as a guideline to try to prevent or thwart perleche. By avoiding unfavorable (life-style) habits, you can optimize the chances of showcasing a pair of healthy lips, free of angular cheilitis.