What causes cuts on the side of mouth as well as mouth or lip corner, a condition commonly known as angular cheilitis? Could it be cold sores, vitamin deficiency, yeast infections or ill-fitting dentures? Let us dig deeper.
Symptoms you may have
Developing cuts on the side of the mouth is a common condition that is generally associated with angular cheilitis. The symptoms include painful sores either on one or both corners of the mouth. The cuts may bleed or appear blistered. Similarly, other symptoms include:
- Pain or inflammation
- Dry uncomfortable lips
- Crusty corners of the lips
Depending on what causes them, the cuts may be deep, cause some bleeding, make taking and eating difficult too.
What causes angular cheilitis?
Angular cheilitis is also known as angular stomatitis, cheilosis, or perleche. This condition is caused by a variety of factors. They include:
- Candidiasis or yeast infection. Yeast infection is a common super-infection of angular cheilitis.
- Dental Procedure. A person may develop acute-Angular Cheilitis if they have had major dental procedures in which their mouth remained open for a considerable amount of time. Also, poorly fitting dentures or a lack of dentures can irritate the skin at the corners of the mouth leading to the condition.
- Vitamin Deficiency. Extreme mineral and vitamin deficiency can lead to angular cheilitis. For instance, nutritional deficiency in riboflavin, and B vitamins such as Vitamin B-12 and B-6. An iron deficiency can also trigger the cuts at the corner of the mouth. To determine if the cracks are caused by a deficiency, you will have to look for other observable symptoms. For instance, if it is a vitamin B deficiency, then you may experience pale or jaundiced skin, fatigue, constipation and loss of appetite.
- Certain fruits, particularly citrus fruits. It is relatively common for the sides of the mouth to get irritated due to the citric acid in the fruits. However, this condition is generally known as canker sores.
- A frequent build-up of saliva at the sides of the mouth. The enzymes in saliva can cause direct irritation of the skin leading to the cuts or cracks at the sides of the mouth. This build-up of saliva can occur if you have a habit of licking your lips. The skin on your lips; around your mouth is sensitive. As a result, the enzyme in the saliva has a drying effect that leaves the skin dry and cracked/chapped.
- Harsh weather can also trigger an irritation at the corners of the mouth. Extreme weather such as winter can significantly damage your lips. This is frequently the case for people who do not apply protectants such as Vaseline or a lip balm with SPF.
- Cosmetics: This is especially the case if you are applying acne-fighting products. The benzoyl peroxide and other skin drying ingredients may irritate the skin leading to the cheilitis.
In the elderly, angular cheilitis is usually associated with the use of dentures and edentulousness (lacking teeth). The frequent closing of the mouth leads to an irritation at the corners on your lips.
In children, the condition is usually associated with atopic dermatitis. The cracks may persist if the child frequently develops allergic reactions, especially allergies to certain foods. Children or adults who drool in their sleep or have braces are also likely to exhibit the condition.
What about dry mouth?
Dry skin may also promote the development of cracks at the corners of the mouth. As the cracks form, they are likely to get infected by a microorganism. Similarly, having a dry mouth due to prolonged dehydration increases the chances of developing cracks at the sides of the mouth.
Treatment for cuts on side mouth
A proper treatment option depends on the cause of the condition. First, In the case of a fungal infection, treatment majorly involves antifungal creams such as clotrimazole (Mycelex) or nystatin. Apply the cream 2-3 times in a day. If you notice no improvements in a week, or if the condition worsens, then you need to contact your medical practitioner. In severe cases, a Clioquinol-hydrocortisone cream may be prescribed.
A person with dentures may need to visit a dentist to ensure that the dentures fit well without straining your mouth. Also, if the cheilitis is caused by predisposing factors such as vitamin B deficiency, then you need to visit a medical practitioner to determine the right cause of treatment. Once the root cause of the condition is identified, then treatment can be fast and effective.
If you have a habit of frequently licking your lips, then it is advisable to desist from this habit. Avoid the salivary build-up. One way to do this is to avoid purchasing lip-balms that are scented or sweet-flavored as they may provoke you to continue licking your lips.
Acute angular cheilitis caused by issues such as harsh weather, certain fruits, or developing the flu can simply be treated by applying Vaseline on the cracks. Avoid irritants such as saliva and the fruit of course, until the skin heals. This can take about a week.
In the case of oral care, avoid commercial mouthwashes containing alcohol as they may aggravate the condition. Go for warm water solution to rinse out the mouth. If you suspect that your toothpaste is contributing to the inflammation, then use a milder one with little or no mint.
Lastly, A little bit of petroleum jelly will greatly help with the healing process.