Cheilosis, also known as angular cheilitis or perleche, is a common condition that affects the corners of the mouth. It is characterized by dry, cracked, and painful lesions that form on the lips and surrounding skin.
• Cracks or fissures at the corners of the mouth
• Pain or discomfort when opening the mouth, speaking, or eating
• Redness, swelling, and inflammation of the affected area
• Itching, burning, or stinging sensation
• Bleeding or oozing of the affected area
• Dryness, chapping, or scaling of the lips
• Nutritional deficiencies, particularly of vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), and iron
• Poor oral hygiene, leading to bacterial or fungal infection
• Exposure to irritants, such as saliva, acidic foods, or harsh weather conditions
• Allergies or sensitivities to certain substances, such as lipstick, toothpaste, or dentures
• Immunosuppression, such as in HIV/AIDS or cancer
• Medications that cause dry mouth, such as antihistamines or antidepressants
Risk factors –
• Age, as older adults are more prone to cheilosis due to decreased absorption of nutrients and weakened immune system
• Poor diet, particularly among vegans or vegetarians who may not consume enough vitamin B12 or iron
• Chronic diseases, such as diabetes, thyroid disorders, or Crohn’s disease
• Smoking or excessive alcohol consumption
• Poorly fitting dentures or braces
• Infection, including bacterial, fungal, or viral (such as herpes simplex)
• Scarring or discoloration of the affected area
• Chronic or recurrent cheilosis, which can be difficult to treat
• Self-consciousness or embarrassment due to the appearance of the lesions
• A doctor or dentist can usually diagnose cheilosis based on the characteristic appearance of the lesions.
• If there is a suspicion of underlying nutritional deficiencies or infections, blood tests or cultures may be ordered.
• Treating underlying nutritional deficiencies is important, often by supplementation of B vitamins or iron.
• Topical antifungal or antibacterial creams or ointments may be prescribed to treat infections.
• Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or petroleum jelly may help relieve symptoms.
• Avoidance of irritants and proper oral hygiene practices can prevent recurrence.
• In severe or chronic cases, more aggressive treatment such as prescription-strength medication or laser therapy may be necessary.
Ayurvedic Perspective –
According to Ayurveda, this condition is caused by an imbalance of the Vata and Pitta doshas.
Here are some remedies and tips that can be helpful:
• Diet: Avoid spicy, sour, and fermented foods, as they can aggravate the Pitta dosha. Include cooling and nourishing foods such as ghee, milk, and sweet fruits in your diet.
• Herbal remedies: Apply a mixture of honey and turmeric paste to the affected area. You can also apply aloe vera gel, coconut oil, or sesame oil to soothe the skin. Drinking herbal teas such as licorice root tea or chamomile tea can also help.
• Lifestyle modifications: Keep the affected area clean and dry. Avoid licking your lips and do not touch the affected area with your hands. Practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly.
• Ayurvedic therapies: Under the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner, you may also consider undergoing Panchakarma therapies such as Virechana (purgation therapy) or Raktamokshana (bloodletting) to detoxify the body and balance the doshas.
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