Angular Cheilitis in Children

We tend to envision children’s skin as beautiful, luminous, and untarnished – free of any skin conditions that adults are typically susceptible to. But alas, as pediatricians can attest to, skin maladies can befall children as well – anything from rashes to angular cheilitis.

Now angular cheilitis in children is not too common but any child can be adversely affected by perleche. Even babies can fall victim to it, particularly because of their propensity to drool.

Here, there are three primary reasons for an overabundance of drool. First, swallowing does not come as naturally as one would think to babies so saliva can build up. Secondly, in the absence of front teeth, this excessive saliva can travel to the lips, causing the typical cheilitis cracks and fissures at the corners. Thirdly, babies are only beginning to acquire oral motor function so they experience difficulty in coordinating and moving mouth parts to better contain saliva.

But drooling can occur well after two years of age. Even healthy children can experience hypersecretion of saliva and have trouble swallowing. These issues are especially prevalent in neurologically-impaired children which can lead to medical, if not social/psychological ramifications.

But a drooling problem may not even stem from physiological reasons. Even braces, particularly ill-fitting ones, may contribute to the problem. Thumb-sucking and nail-biting, perhaps seemingly harmless habits, may easily lead to increased levels of drool and even directly cause a bacterial or fungal infection, responsible for perleche.

Again, as you probably know by now if you’ve read other articles on this site, angular cheilitis in adults may not just stem from an overabundance of drool, but for several other reasons. The same holds true when looking at angular cheilitis in children.

An unhealthy diet, lacking in key vitamins and minerals (e.g., Vitamin B2, C, E, zinc, iron, etc.) may contribute to perleche. In addition, unrelenting stress can impair the immune system and can exacerbate a predisposition to perleche. Furthermore, children are even more affected by cold weather and plummeting temperatures, so their lips can become chapped and infected which paves the way for cheilitis to appear. Of course, children can also fall prey to a bacterial and/or fungal infection, ushering the onset of perleche.

Should you notice angular cheilitis on your child’s lips, try not to overreact and raise any alarm. You don’t want to needlessly worry your child and make him/her more self-conscious. A visit to a pediatrician should easily calm any concerns that you have. The doctor will be able to diagnose and treat the condition, probably dispensing medication that is antibacterial or antifungal.

You may decide to use any of the natural and over-the-counter remedies listed on the site. However, it’s always best to speak with the pediatrician to discuss any treatment plan that you decide to undertake.

Angular cheilitis in kids warrants attention but it is a very treatable condition that hopefully will not last long. Ensure that your child gets ample rest, eats a very holistic, balanced diet, takes essential supplements, and is not besieged by stress. Again, speak with the doctor to obtain his/her feedback and follow the exact protocol recommended and it’s likely that your child’s cheilitis will soon disappear.