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Angular cheilitis is a common inflammatory condition that affects the corners of the mouth. It is also called angular stomatitis, cheilosis or perleche. It can come on suddenly and last a short time, or it can be an ongoing condition.
Angular cheilitis has several causes, including:
Licking your lips a lot can make angular cheilitis worse, and certain factors can make you more likely to develop the skin condition. These include:
Angular cheilitis usually causes skin changes at the corners of the mouth. These changes include:
A doctor will usually diagnose angular cheilitis based on your symptoms, medical history and an examination of your mouth. In some cases, they may also swab the corners of your mouth (and sometimes the inside of your mouth) to check for bacteria, fungi or viruses that may be causing your symptoms.
Angular cheilitis often needs no treatment and gets better on its own in time.
If there is an infection, it will usually be treated with an antifungal, antiseptic or antibiotic cream or ointment, depending on the type of infection.
This is typically followed by treatment with a barrier (waterproof) cream or petrolatum, which should be applied often (especially at night) to help protect the skin from moisture.
Other treatments that may be useful include:
It is common for angular cheilitis to recur.
Date of last review: 16 June 2020
Cheilitis [Internet]. Uptodate.com. 2020 [cited 3 March 2020]. Available here.
Angular cheilitis | DermNet NZ [Internet]. Dermnetnz.org. 2020 [cited 3 March 2020]. Available here.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.