So what is Angular Cheilitis, and if I have it, what else should I know?

What is angular cheilitis?
As discussed on the home page, angular cheilitis is a dermatitis caused by a bacterial or fungal infection in corners of the mouth. Many people suffer from angular cheilitis without knowing it. Often those suffering from it falsely believe that the symptoms are those of chapped lips, but this condition is not chapped lips, and must be treated differently. Angular cheilitis can be extremely painful, and left untreated can result in open, cut-like sores developing at the corners of the mouth.

TIP: If the pain and discomfort is localized at the corners of the mouth, or you have cracks in the corners of your mouth chances are you suffer from cheilitis.

Do you or someone you know suffer from angular cheilitis? Below you will find answers to some common questions and concerns about this recalcitrant skin condition.

I now know the answer to ‘What is angular cheilitis?” but is it contagious?

If you, or someone you know suffers from angular cheilitis then you are probably wondering, “is it contagious?”

The simple answer: NO!
Angular cheilitis is not contagious.

Many people think that cheilitis is contagious because it may look like cold sores (oral herpes), or fever blisters. However, these are different conditions, and are in no way related to angular cheilitis. Luckily, angular cheilitis is not at all contagious. It affects only the corner of the lips. Cheilitis cannot spread to other people, or to to other parts of a person’s body.

What are the predisposing factors of angular cheilitis?

You are probably also wondering, “Why do I have angular cheilitis? What are the predisposing factors that encourage angular cheilitis? What things make it more likely for a person to develop soreness, and cracks at the corner of the lips?”

There are a number of factors that may increase a person’s predisposition to cheilitis. Here are a list of predisposing factors that can increase a person’s susceptibility to it:

• Fungal infection – angular cheilitis is often caused by a fungal infection. Candidia is the name of the offending fungus, and anything that makes a person more susceptible to infections may increase the likelihood of angular cheilitis. Persons on prolonged antibiotic treatments, or corticosteroid treatments may be at greater risk of developing angular cheilitis. Other factors that weaken the immune system such as immunodeficiencies, immunosuppression, cancer treatments (chemotherapy), radiation exposure, or diabetes may also increase a person’s predisposition to it.

• Stress – medical research has consistently proven that stress does all sorts of terrible things to the human body. Worst of all, stress tends to weaken the immune system, increase the likelihood of infection, and make the body more susceptible to disease. Individuals under lots of stress may experiences other types of mouth disease, such as canker sores and lesions. These might increase a person’s predisposition to angular cheilitis. Finally, stress itself reduces the effectiveness of the human immune system, which alone makes an individual more susceptible to all infections including angular cheilitis.

• Malnutrition – medical studies have shown that poor dietary habits increase the likelihood of a number of diseases including angular cheilitis. A nutrient poor diet deprives the body of essential vitamins and minerals, which in turn, inhibits the immune system’s capacity to fight infections. Deficient intake of cobalamin (vitamin B12), riboflavin (vitamin B2), and inadequate levels of iron (anemia) may increase a person’s predisposition to angular cheilitis.

• Preexisting medical conditions – other medical conditions may increase a person’s predisposition to angular cheilitis. Persons with a history of dermatitis such as eczema, and psoriasis may be more likely to develop angular cheilitis. Those with immune deficiencies caused by intestinal or digestive conditions such as coeliac disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease may also increase a person’s predisposition to cheilitis.

• The very young, and the very old – drooling, dribbling, or a person’s general inability to keep the spit from sliding out of his or her mouth may increase the chances of developing angular cheilitis. It is caused by human spit (or rather the bacteria and fungi present in human spit), so slobbering babies and wet-lipped older folks are more likely to develop the condition.

• Ill fitting dentures – poorly fitted false teeth can put pressure on the the soft oral tissues around the gum line. When dentures fit poorly, they may impede the full range of motion in the lips, thereby making it more difficult for a person to keep his or her mouth closed properly. Incorrectly fitted, or worn-out dentures make it more likely that saliva will accumulate, and thus make persons (especially the elderly) more susceptible to angular cheilitis.

Resources and Suggested Articles:

Hopefully, you can now easily answer the question “What is angular cheilitis,” and even more importantly, know some contributing factors to its development.