What has the formula, ZnO and is an inorganic, insoluble compound that just may have the healing properties that will benefit skin conditions, such as angular cheilitis? The answer is zinc oxide and its very probable that you’ve heard of this ‘ingredient’ as its added in so many products, including a wide array of skin care and cosmetic lines.
Oral application of zinc may help to keep angular cheilitis at bay as it appears to be an anti-inflammatory element that can accelerate the renewal of skin cells. But additional reserves of zinc still may not produce much, if any, effect on perleche as individual response varies. In other words, there are no guarantees that cheilitis will improve by taking additional zinc – in the form of pills or food. It’s still worth a try, in our humble estimation.
But let’s turn our focus to topical zinc in the form of zinc oxide. It may be best known for its efficacy at resolving diaper rash. After all, it creates a skin barrier and repels the diaper’s wetness.
As encouraging, studies show that zinc oxide exerts some positive influence on wounds, correcting ‘local’ zinc deficiencies. By increasing zinc serum levels at the point of injury, healing is promoted through a process called re-epithelialization. Here, the number of epithelial cells grows, and such cells than cover and protect the new tissue and the wound eventually contracts. Subsequently, collagen begins to build the flexibility and elasticity of underlying connective tissues.
Now I could not find any studies that test zinc oxide and is possible impact on angular cheilitis but it’s a safe bet that topical application should, at the very least, diminish pain and take away some of the inflammation. In order to totally eradicate the cheilitis, zinc oxide would likely have to have very strong antibacterial and/or antifungal properties, and the scant research available does not truly support this notion.
The anti-bacterial mechanism of zinc oxide seems more indirect than direct, in the sense that it marshals our own body’s defenses against microbes. It also appears that zinc oxide’s potency against fungi is rather limited, and some doctors feel that it’s non-existent. Therefore, it’s very unlikely that zinc oxide is able to deter any microorganisms responsible for angular cheilitis.
Therefore, we give zinc oxide a rather lukewarm approval rating as part of your anti-angular cheilitis arsenal. You may find it soothing and comforting but it’s very probable that it will exert no tangible effect on perleche.
If you decide to use zinc oxide cream or ointment, look for a product that has a high percentage of zinc, say, at least 20%. Apply it carefully to the cracked corners of your mouth after washing the area. Be careful not to ingest, of course. Allergic reactions are possible so cease and desist zinc oxide treatment if you notice any.
Consult with your dermatologist or doctor to discuss the pros and cons of zinc oxide but it seems a rather innocuous compound that may alleviate some of the pain and inflammation of angular cheiltis.