Have you ever heard of angular cheilitis? While cracked or chapped lips are irritating enough to deal with, angular cheilitis is another skin condition that can affect the corners of your lips. Unlike a normal case of chapped lips, angular cheilitis is an inflammation and can form due to an infection. 1
How do you know if you have angular cheilitis? Read on to learn about angular cheilitis, what causes it and how you can treat it.
What Is Angular Cheilitis?
Angular cheilitis is a common inflammatory skin condition that affects one or both corners of your lips and causes irritated, cracked sores. 2 You may also experience painful cracks, blisters, crusting skin, redness or bleeding at the corners of your mouth with this condition.3 While the skin dryness and cracks may be painful and make it difficult to eat or smile, it is a treatable condition .2 Angular cheilitis can sometimes be mistaken as a cold sore because they are similar in appearance, but the two conditions are very different.2 A cold sore is a contagious infection that is caused by a herpes virus, and angular cheilitis cannot be passed on to others through physical contact.2
What Causes Angular Cheilitis?
Licking your lips to keep them moist might seem like a good solution at first, but saliva can actually dry out your lips once it evaporates. 4 The corners of our mouths are often exposed to saliva, which puts them at risk for dryness. When saliva gathers at the corners of your mouth it can dry out the skin and cause it to crack open, causing angular cheilitis to form.2 If bacteria fall into the cracked skin, an inflammation or infection can occur.2
Risk Factors for Angular Cheilitis
Angular cheilitis is a common condition that can affect anyone, but it is most often seen in young children or older adults. 2 People who drool in their sleep, wear face masks or smoke are also susceptible to drying out the corners of their mouths.2 Other factors can put people at risk for getting angular cheilitis, including:
• HIV and other immune system disorders 2
• Xerostomia (dry mouth) 1
• Skin wrinkles caused by aging 2
• Low levels of B vitamins, iron or protein 2
• Severe tooth wear 1
• Dentures that don’t properly fit 2
• Conditions that are associated with enlarged lips 1
• Allergic or irritant contact dermatitis 1
• Oral thrush 1
• Poor hygiene 1
• Nervous tics that involve over-licking of lips 1
How to Treat Angular Cheilitis
Treatment for angular cheilitis mostly depends on how it was caused. 2 Since most cases of angular cheilitis are caused by saliva, the best way to treat and prevent dryness from this condition is to keep the affected areas moisturized.1 Products that work best for keeping the corners of your lips free of dryness include:
Ointments: A thick ointment like petroleum jelly can work well for treating angular cheilitis.
3 Ointments seal water for long periods of time, which allows moisture to be locked into your lips.4
• Antifungal creams: If a fungal infection has made its way into cracked, dry skin, topical antifungal creams are a good solution. 2 You can also try oral antifungal treatments to help with infections.1
Always consult your doctor before trying a product or at-home treatment for angular cheilitis. If your symptoms are severe, seek medical attention.
Preventative Care: Keep Your Lips Hydrated with ChapStick Products
Although ChapStick products are not designed to treat angular cheilitis, staying hydrated and keeping your lips moisturized can help minimize the risk of getting it. 2 If you’re in need of some hydrating lip products, ChapStick has a number of options that can sooth your dry lips. Check out the following products to help your lips get the moisture they need:
ChapStick Classic Lip Balm Collection: When using America’s Favorite Lip Balm, it’s never a bad idea to stick with the classics. The
ChapStick Classic Collection features iconic lip balm flavors like the Classic Original and Cherry. ChapStick Classic lip balms protect your lips from dryness.
• ChapStick Classic Medicated Lip Balm: ChapStick Classic Medicated is an external analgesic that works to soothe lips and temporarily relieve pain. Use this lip balm to help protect your lips against dry climates and painful cracking.
• Green Tea Mint Lip Butter: For up to eight hours of moisture on your lips, try ChapStick’s Green Tea Mint Lip Butter. Enjoy the refreshing flavor of green tea with this 100% natural product.
• ChapStick Lip Oils: Replenish your dry lips with a nourishing ChapStick Lip Oil. Give your lips some love by using the Vitamin-Enriched Sweet Nectar Lip Oil during the day and the Vitamin-Enriched Night Serum for overnight hydration.
Don’t neglect your lip health when it comes to tackling issues like angular cheilitis. For more helpful resources on supporting lip health, check out the ChapStick News Nook.
1. Angular Cheilitis. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK536929/ Accessed 4/6/2022.
2. Angular Cheilitis. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/21470-angular-cheilitis Accessed 4/6/2022.
3. Angular Cheilitis. DermNet NZ. https://dermnetnz.org/topics/angular-cheilitis Accessed 4/6/2022.
4. 7 dermatologists’ tips for healing dry, chapped lips. American Academy of Dermatology Association. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/dry/heal-dry-chapped-lips Accessed 4/6/2022.