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9 Reasons Why Your Mouth Corners Crack

9 Reasons Why Your Mouth Corners Crack
9 Reasons Why Your Mouth Corners Crack

Cracked mouth corners, also called angular cheilitis, is a condition that occurs due to inflammation of patches in the corners of your mouth. This makes these areas cracked, red, and swollen. Angular cheilitis happens for various reasons from nutrient deficiencies to autoimmune diseases. Not knowing why the cracks develop and if they were ever going to disappear might be a constant source of anxiety. Knowing why these cracks appear makes this condition a little less scary.


Angular cheilitis is not like chapped lips that usually occur due to a lack of moisture. Mouth corners crack because of a fungal infection. Since your mouth has its own ecosystem, it contains different types of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This includes a type of fungus called Candida albicans. It is one of the most common types of fungus living on your skin (mouth, vagina, gut) and its overgrowth can provoke an infection called candidiasis.


Saliva collects at the corners of your mouth and can dry the area out which results in cracks. When you lick mouth corners to relieve the irritation, you’re actually helping yeast get into open wounds. It creates a breeding ground for yeast to grow.


9 Common Causes Of Angular Cheilitis

Cracked mouth corners don’t have one specific cause but some things can make you more prone. Here are nine causes of angular cheilitis:


1. Certain Medications

Certain medications, for instance, the acne drug isotretinoin or chemotherapy can lead to skin irritation and dryness that often results in angular cheilitis.


2. Age

Actually, elderly people are more prone to angular cheilitis as they often have dry mouth and a weaker immune system. This makes it more complicated for them to combat infections. Plus, age-related changes around the mouth can increase the risk of angular cheilitis. Older adults lose structural support around the mouth, and their mouth corners tend to turn down, which creates folds in those corners.


3. Autoimmune Diseases

Angular cheilitis can be a sign of Sjogren’s syndrome. Sjorgen’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands of eyes and mouth. Autoimmune disorders like lupus, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis, can also provoke regular angular cheilitis.


4. Dry Mouth

Dry mouth or xerostomia is another common cause of cracked mouth corners. People with this issue have a higher risk of angular cheilitis.


5. Braces And Other Oral Appliances

Any type of oral appliance (including braces) you have in your mouth can change the anatomy of your mouth that can cause cracked mouth corners.


6. Down Syndrome

Down syndrome is accompanied by muscular hypotonia which means a person has a lower than normal muscle tone. It can cause people with Down syndrome to keep their mouths open and let their tongues protrude, which actually irritates the corners of the mouth.


7. Weather

Yes, the weather can also affect the skin around your lips. It’s known that dry and cold weather can cause skin dehydration and irritation. It also makes your lips extra dry and can cause angular cheilitis.


8. Lack Of Nutrients

According to scientists, anemia is a condition caused by a lack of iron that has been linked to angular cheilitis. Lack of iron can lower the immune system which makes you more prone to infections as well as angular cheilitis. Also, the lack of B vitamins and zinc can provoke this issue due to the fact that these nutrients also play a key role in maintaining a healthy and strong immune system.


9. Dehydration

Since lack of fluids in the body is linked to dry mouth it can also provoke cracked mouth corners. People with some diseases like untreated diabetes are especially prone to frequent urination and overall dehydration and thus are more likely to get angular cheilitis.


Angular Cheilitis Treatment

Before starting any treatment you need to talk to your primary care physician to get a correct diagnosis. Your doctor may prescribe a topical form of corticosteroid to reduce inflammation and antifungal cream to eliminate fungal overgrowth.


But if you experience angular cheilitis and can’t see your doctor now, you may use a 1% hydrocortisone cream (corticosteroid) along with an antifungal medication for Candida albicans. Keep in mind that using only a topical corticosteroid can make your cracked mouth corners worse since this medication reduces the immune system in the area where you apply it. This can make any infection get worse.


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