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Why the Corners of Our Lips Crack

Perhaps many of us have faced a situation when painful cracks and inflammation appeared in the corners of our lips. It seems it happens without any reason — they just appear at some moment and then disappear after some time, having caused a bit of discomfort.

5-Minute Crafts collected information about this phenomenon and is going to tell you about the reasons for its appearance and the methods to prevent it.

❗ This article is for informational purposes only and doesn’t replace the advice of experts.

What it is

Angular cheilitis is the inflammation of one or both mouth corners. Oftentimes, a person feels itchy and painful in the lip corners. Many people mistake it for herpes, however, it’s important to understand the difference. Unlike herpes (caused by the virus of herpes), angular cheilitis is not contagious, and sometimes all one needs to get rid of it is to change their diet.

Most often, angular cheilitis appears in elderly people and in small kids — people of middle age are less prone to get it. This is due to the fact that elderly people often have sagging skin in the corners of their mouths, as well as dentures that can provoke seizures. In infants, this can be explained by a wet mouth due to an abundance of saliva, as well as sucking on a pacifier or fingers.


There are many reasons why angular cheilitis can appear. We have already told you about some of them, so let’s look at some other ones in more detail.

  • Dryness of lips: Saliva accumulated in the corners of the lips can provoke severe dryness after it dries out, which, in turn, will lead to cracks. To soothe chapped skin, we usually lick these areas, creating ideal conditions for bacteria and fungus growth.
  • Unsuitable dentures: Dentures might be creating skin folds in the mouth corners due to their incorrect shape. It can also be caused by very worn-out dentures. In such areas, the skin will be more exposed to saliva, and it might develop conditions for the appearance of infection.
  • Cosmetic products: First of all, those can be expired lip balms. The sunscreen component included in their composition can eventually turn into an irritant. Moreover, applying a large amount of balm to calm the inflammation will only make the situation worse.
  • Braces: Of course, wearing braces doesn’t necessarily mean that angular cheilitis will appear, however, they will make the mouth corners wetter, which means the risk of getting the inflammation increases.
  • Deficiency of iron and B vitamins: Approximately 25% of people who experience seizures have these deficiencies.
  • Allergies: Angular cheilitis can be also caused by individual allergic reactions to components included in lipstick, toothpaste, acne treatment products, chewing gum, or mouthwash.
  • Habits: Some habits can also provoke the appearance of angular cheilitis, like, for example, constant licking of the lips, frequent and prolonged use of chewing gum, the presence of various objects in the mouth (pen caps, toothpicks, straws), as well as breathing mainly through the mouth.

Preventative measures

Some reasons for the appearance of angular cheilitis can’t be eliminated right away (like taking off braces). However, it’s important to try to watch the condition of your mouth and not let it stay too wet or too dry. It’s important to remember the following:

  • Sustaining a healthy diet and consuming a sufficient amount of water
  • Avoiding contact with skin allergens and irritants
  • Avoiding using expired cosmetics
  • Giving up any habits that lead to over-moisturized lips
Preview photo credit Depositphotos.com
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