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Angular Cheilitis is certainly not a term that you are likely to have come across often. However, if you hear the term and wonder what it is, or if someone you know says they have it then this article should help make it clear. Angular Cheilitis is a medical condition that affects the corners of the mouth. It can be quite painful as lesions develop, which due to the site and movement of the mouth rapidly deteriorate and split open. They can split longways in line with the mouth opening, but can also split vertically which clearly is going to cause a lot of pain as it will put pressure on the corner of the mouth.
As you may expect these cracks can bleed, be very sore and can get nasty crust-like scabs that are also not very nice. One of the primary causes of Angular Cheilitis is considered to be the medical condition anemia, which is when the body is unable to store and process iron correctly leading to a deficiency. This can be associated with other medical conditions or can just be the sole issue, but is certainly worth pursuing from a medical point of view as it can be symptomatic of something more serious but treatable. Other causes are possible. The fungal infection of thrush, for example, can trigger these lesions, and again this needs treatment to eliminate the fungus.
It is not always the case that Angular Cheilitis is symptomatic of another condition. It can simply occur on its own. One example of this is in older patients who experience a change in mouth shape if they lose teeth. This can sometimes cause the cracks to appear. The same thing can happen to younger children who lick their lips in winter. Again, this can exacerbate the lesions.
Treatment of the lesions does depend on what the cause is. For minor cases, such as occur with the elderly and children, a local cream applied to the area will probably sort the problem. If the cause is determined to be the thrush virus then clearly the cream used needs to be designed to kill off that fungus in order to be effective. Otherwise the lesions will heal but the thrush will just take hold again and create new ones. If the cause is determined to be a result of a more serious condition then clearly that condition needs to be treated as well. Anemia is often treated by administering iron tablets, or in more serious cases by injections of B vitamins to help the body restore balance. Again, if it makes the patient more comfortable the cream can be given locally to aid the healing process.
Whatever happens, medical advice should be sought if you experience these symptoms in order to rule out one of the more serious medical conditions or to confirm the presence of a condition and allow for the appropriate treatment. If the lesions are minor and simply appear for a day or so in winter it could be safe to assume that the season is to blame; however, keep an eye and seek medical advice if they reappear.
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