Inflamed corners of the mouth – causes, treatment

Inflamed corners of the mouth

When inflamed corners of the mouth are torn, painful symptoms arise. Above all, they tense when eating, brushing your teeth, eating or coming into contact with saliva. The corners of the mouth are red, cracked or scaly. This occurs without a feeling of tension, for example when speaking, yawning or laughing. These typical symptoms can occur on one side or on both sides.

In the dry heating air or in the cold, the lips sometimes tear easily. Then it can form corner cheilitis. With a bit of care cream, however, this problem should soon be solved. However, if the inflamed corners of the mouth still do not heal after a few days, it is advisable to see a doctor.

What are inflamed corners of the mouth?

If the corners of the mouth are painfully inflamed, doctors know the technical terms angulus infectiosus (oris), angular cheilitis, rotten corners, corner cheilitis and perlèche for these symptoms.

The corner of the mouth cheilitis is widespread across all age groups and can occur for a variety of reasons. As a rule, fissures and inflammation in the corners of the mouth do not pose a direct health threat.

But since they can be an expression of serious illnesses or malnutrition, the doctor should be consulted, especially in the case of prolonged inflammation.


Angular cheilitis can have various causes or be promoted by them. These include very general reasons such as temperature, humidity or mechanical stress. Very cold and also very warm air can make the lips dry and chapped. Lips also tend to dry out in a closed, heated room. A high level of humidity and the practiced practice of licking the corners of the mouth are just as much a part of this as nervous chewing on the lip or generally very dry skin .

A lack of nutrients or too much chili in the food sometimes cause sore lips. These include a deficiency in vitamin B2, B3, B6, B12, iron or zinc . Contact allergens found in some cosmetic products or lipstick, nickel, the material of your own dentures or overuse of toothpaste can injure and inflame the sensitive skin of the lips through irritation. An imbalance in the hormonal situation, e.g. B. during pregnancy or during the menopause , sometimes makes the skin and therefore the lips very sensitive. Inflammation is then the next step.

Poorly fitting dentures can irritate the lips. The symptom of sore corners of the mouth sometimes develops after treatment with antibiotics . Diseases that can themselves cause inflammation of the skin are above all skin diseases such as neurodermatitis and diabetes mellitus as well as Down’s syndrome and Parkinson’s disease caused by the sometimes uncontrollable flow of saliva .

Ultimately, all irritation, bruises, and chapped lips can result in inflammation caused by infection. Mainly responsible for this are endogenous bacteria such as staphylococci , streptococci , viruses – and in particular the herpes simplex virus – and fungi, such as thrush or Candida albicans .

diseases with this symptom

Diagnosis & History

If inflamed corners of the mouth occur again and again or for a longer period of time, the family doctor or dermatologist is the right medical contact person. For the anamnesis of the symptoms, he will ask about other complaints, treatments and previous illnesses.

The diagnosis is made first of all by an inspection (visual assessment) of the affected skin areas and additional examinations to find the cause of the inflamed corners of the mouth. For example, blisters on the lip indicate an acute herpes infection. Or the inflammation of the oral mucosa could be a fungal infection.

A swab from the lip is used for later microscopic or laboratory tests for possible pathogens such as bacteria , viruses or fungi. The blood test provides information about the general condition of the patient. The patient may also turn out to be diabetic.

Anemia or other deficiency symptoms can also be detected. The doctor may also consider the allergy test if a hypersensitivity reaction is suspected. A dental examination would then be advisable if there is no other indication of the cause.


If there is talk of a corner of the mouth cheilitis, then it is about inflamed and torn corners of the mouth. There is a risk of bacterial or fungal spread to other areas of the face or even the oral cavity.

If bacteria and fungi are treated efficiently with the means of classical medicine or the possibilities of homeopathy , their spread can be prevented. If the bacteria and fungi are successfully treated, infections and mycoses cannot spread to the face. Scab formation is unavoidable in most cases. An increase in these symptoms is the formation of tumors, which can lead to restricted opening of the mouth.

Bloody and painful ulcers at the corners of the mouth are also often observed as a complication and must be treated immediately. The risk of antibiotic or antifungal spread must always be considered.

There is talk of a severe course with more serious complications when bacteria, viruses or fungi cause stomatitis (inflammation of the oral mucosa). However, this can also be caused by allergic or toxic reactions or by physical irritation. In the worst case, the chewing and swallowing function is severely restricted. This can even lead to malnutrition and dehydration . Ulcerations, secondary infections, and CNS or eye involvement must be summarized as complications. If those affected are on antibiotic or cytostatic therapy, it can lead to candidiasis , just like in patients with a weakened immune system(Infectious diseases caused by fungi of the genus Candida).

When should you go to the doctor?

In the case of inflamed corners of the mouth, a visit to the doctor is not absolutely necessary: ​​If other symptoms of the disease do not occur at the same time, nothing can be missed or delayed in the case of corner mouth cheilitis in a few days. Treatment with home remedies (cream) is often sufficient to make the inflammation disappear. In principle, however, the occurrence of inflamed corners of the mouth should be taken as an opportunity to think about nutrition – fissures in the corners of the mouth are often associated with an insufficient supply of B vitamins and/or iron .

If the symptoms last for more than a week, are very painful or occur again and again every few weeks, a doctor’s visit is advisable: Only through thorough diagnostics can a possible underlying vitamin or mineral deficiency, an allergy or an infection with bacteria be identified or yeast or a systemic disease can be positively identified and appropriate treatment initiated.

The general practitioner or a dermatologist is responsible . If you suspect that ill-fitting and/or poorly maintained loose dentures are causing the angular cheilitis, your family doctor or dermatologist will recommend a visit to the dentist . This will provide advice on denture hygiene and readjust the prosthesis if necessary.

Treatment & Therapy

The doctor will primarily prescribe an ointment that greases the lips and keeps them supple over the long term. Or he prescribes a paste that has an antibiotic, antiviral or antifungal effect. However, if a contact allergy has been determined, the only thing that helps is to avoid this substance as much as possible.

However, in order to achieve long-term therapeutic success, the underlying deficiency or disease should be treated. For example, in the case of a specific vitamin or iron deficiency, only high-dose preparations, possibly also injected, and a change in diet will help.

Diabetes mellitus, cirrhosis of the liver or other metabolic diseases or organ diseases must be treated thoroughly and over the long term. Only then will symptoms such as the inflamed corners of the mouth heal faster or not arise at all.

A suitable lip balm should be used, especially in winter. Only then does the skin in the corners of the mouth remain elastic and not tear so easily, even under stress.

Outlook & Forecast

Torn or inflamed corners of the mouth usually heal within a few days, as long as the underlying condition is completely cured and the corners of the mouth are spared. A weakened immune system or diabetes can lead to a delay in the healing process. The inflammatory injuries often develop into a chronic problem with a rather negative prognosis.

If the torn corners of the mouth are due to an allergy or even a viral or fungal infection, the treatment will also take longer. Inflammation as a result of herpes disease can occur again and again after an infection, but can also be reduced with comprehensive treatment.

In general, the outlook for corner cheilitis is good: if the symptoms are treated early and the trigger is eliminated, the cracks heal without long-term consequences. At most, chronic symptoms can lead to the formation of scars .

For a meaningful prognosis, the constitution and possible previous illnesses of the person concerned must be taken into account. In infants and young children, the elderly, and people with an immune deficiency , recovery can take a few days to weeks.

The final prognosis should be made by a doctor even with an apparently harmless symptom such as torn corners of the mouth.


To prevent inflamed corners of the mouth from developing in the first place, the lips should above all remain dry. There are pastes that prevent too much moisture from collecting in the corners of the mouth. Contact allergies and mechanical irritation can be avoided with a little discipline. Toothpaste or other skin-irritating cosmetics should be used sparingly.

In the medium term, a nutrient deficiency can be eliminated with a specially designed diet. Highly salty, acidic or spicy foods should only be consumed with caution. Supplements such as zinc supplements , iron and vitamin C for better iron absorption and a balanced vitamin B complex help.

You can do that yourself

Inflamed corners of the mouth are usually not dangerous, but painful and unaesthetic, which is why they limit the quality of life of those affected. Whether and what they can do about it themselves depends on the causes of the inflamed corners of the mouth.

Chronic inflammation is often caused by malnutrition . People who regularly follow reduction diets should therefore take food supplements . In particular, the vitamins B2 , B3 , B6 and B12 and the trace elements iron and zinc must be supplied in sufficient quantities. For people who eat an unbalanced and unhealthy diet, it is often enough to integrate more plant-based food, especially fresh fruit and vegetables , into the menu.

If the indoor climate at work is part of the problem, those affected should ensure high humidity and well-ventilated rooms at home. Mechanical irritation from electric toothbrushes or oral irrigators should be avoided until the corners of the mouth have healed.

If inflamed corners of the mouth do not heal, this is also due to the fact that the patients are constantly touching the fissures, often unconsciously. The skin areas are thus permanently contaminated. Sufferers should become aware of how often they touch their face and try to condition themselves differently. In addition, when eating, yawning, speaking or laughing, the mouth should not be opened so far that the corners of the mouth become tense, as this will tear the fissures even deeper. A good care cream ensures that the irritated areas of the skin do not dry out.

Lisa Newlon
 | Website

Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.