If you’ve noticed an unpleasant rash forming on the corners of your mouth, you’re likely looking for a solution. It’s known as angular cheilitis, and many people see flare-ups occurring during cold, dry weather. But why does it happen, and is angular cheilitis contagious?
In this post, we’ll talk about the causes and symptoms of angular cheilitis. Next, we’ll talk about how it can be contagious and when it’s wise to ensure you don’t spread it.
What Is Angular Cheilitis?
Cheilitis refers to an inflammation of the lips. Compared to the rest of the skin around it, the lips are unique in that they do not have a protective layer. Because of the absence of sebum, sweat glands, and hair follicles, the lips can become dry, chapped, or even inflamed if conditions aren’t optimal.
Angular cheilitis is a condition that refers specifically to the inflammation of the corners of your lips, where the upper and lower lips meet at an angle. The area can become inflamed and have itchy, crusty, or reddened areas that are sore.
Far from being just an aesthetic concern, angular cheilitis can be very bothersome in your daily life. As the skin at the corners of the lips stretches when you open your mouth, it can be painful to do so, making it challenging to eat and speak.
Is Angular Cheilitis Contagious?
Whether angular cheilitis is contagious depends entirely on what the cause is. The name of the disease only refers to the fact that there is inflammation in the area.
Angular cheilitis can occur due to physical or allergic irritation, but also due to fungi or bacteria. If you have dry, chapped lips, you might lick your lips to moisten them over and over again. As the corner of the mouth is more exposed to saliva, which contains digestive enzymes, it can develop a red, crusty appearance and become sore or painful. The same can happen if you develop angular cheilitis through an allergic reaction.
In these cases, however, the condition is not contagious since there is no contagion present. However, it is possible for bacteria to opportunistically colonize the inflamed skin and begin thriving in the area. These bacteria can travel from one person to another. And while they may not cause angular cheilitis, they may lead people to develop other conditions.
That’s why it’s best to avoid sharing food, drinks, and utensils with people if you suspect you may have a bacterial or fungal infection. It’s also best to avoid kissing or sexual contact with the lips.
Angular Cheilitis vs. Herpes
It’s important to note that the herpes simplex virus can also cause sores on the corners of the mouth. In this case, it would be diagnosed as angular herpes. And since it’s a viral infection, it can be contagious, and you should avoid sharing utensils and food with anyone until the problem resolves.
The way you approach angular cheilitis treatment depends on the cause, but the best thing to do is keep the area clean and dry. This prevents saliva from accumulating and causing further irritation, and it makes any ointments applied more effective. Ointments may be antifungal, antibacterial, or antiviral, depending on the cause. And it’s always best to speak to a qualified doctor who can help you treat the condition effectively.
This post is brought to you by Dr. Vesna Arezina, DDS, your best family dentist in Houston, TX. With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Arezina prides herself on providing exceptional service, performing general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry procedures. The clinic also provides emergency dental care and is bilingual to serve all members of our community with comfort and care.
For any questions, or to schedule an appointment, please call us at (281) 469-7469. We’ll be happy to see you!