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What is the meaning of cheilitis? What causes it? Is it a condition to that keeps you worried? Who is vulnerable? What are the best cheilitis lips treatment?
Cheilitis is the inflammation of the lips that include the perioral skin, labial mucosa, and vermilion border. This condition is linked to factors such dry, chapped, cracked, and crusty lips.
There are several types and the condition can be acute or chronic. Therefore, the resulting symptoms would also range from mild to moderate to severe.
Let us now understand into details, the various types, and the related causes:
Causes and the various types
As we already said, there are many types of cheilitis and they include:
Angular cheilitis cause and symptoms
Have you been wondering about what causes red, swollen patches and cracks in corner of mouth? Well, cracked or dry corners of mouth could be due to angular cheilitis, perleche or cheilosis. This condition is also referred to as angular stomatitis. It results in inflammation in one or both corners of the mouth.
Several causes would result in this condition. The common angular stomatitis causes include infections (by bacteria, fungal and viral), nutritional deficiencies, poorly fitting dentures, atopic dermatitis, systemic diseases, certain medications (i.e., isotretinoin and acitretin, etc.) among others.
Do not forget that genetics can also contribute to angular stomatitis.
Symptoms of perleche include dry lips, redness, bleeding, crusting, cracks, blistering and pain on the corner of lips.
Treatment here would depend on the severity of the symptoms and the causes. They would involve angular cheilitis home remedies, over the counter products and prescription treatments.
Cheilitis simplex or chapped lips
This is the common types and mostly affect the lower lips but can also affect both lips. The common symptoms associated with this condition are cracked, peeling, and fissured lips. Chronic cases with severely chapped lips would result in crusty lips that may bleed.
Now, what causes it? Causes include lip licking and rubbing, cold and dry weather, and all conditions that could lead to dry lips. Dry and irritated lips would eventually split and crack and with time, you would suffer severe chapping.
Eczematous cheilitis also knew as lip dermatitis comprises of wide range of disorders whose origin is not well known. Causes of this condition are grouped into two categories, those are endogenous and exogenous causes.
Endogenous is the most common reason. It is due to the inherent characteristics of an individual. Under this category, atopic dermatitis is the common cause.
Exogenous causes involve things outside a person’s body. These are further grouped into two, the irritant contact cheilitis and allergic contact cheilitis. The irritant in many cases would be triggered by skin care products and cosmetics, certain foods and environmental factors and more.
On the hand, the allergic one is mainly due to lip care products and cosmetics, dental materials, certain medications, toothpaste and certain foods. The combination of these factors can also be responsible.
The types are usually characterized by redness, dryness, scaling and fissuring on the lips. Angular cheilitis would also be present.
This refers to that type caused by various infections from bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Common infections so far are Herpes labialis, impetigo, and cheilocandidiasis. In certain instance, herpes labialis would have symptoms like those of perleche and thus can be easily confused.
Also, herpes labialis may show symptoms at the corner of the mouth. Sometimes, herpes labialis is also referred to as angular herpes simplex.
This is the uncommon type which has symptoms ranging from mild to severe. It is commonly experienced in the Vermilion area of the lips, characterized by crusty and very painful lips.
This type involves the faster growth of cells than the shedding rate of the dead skin cells. Its triggers include stress, anxiety or depression. Thyroid disorder and HIV can also be blamed. Lip picking and licking which can also be nervous are also considered as possible causes.
This is also a rare type that commonly affects male adults. The exact cause is not known but, it has been associated with genetics. According to rarediseases.info.nih.gov, “Cheilitis glandularis is a rare inflammatory disorder of the lip. It is mainly characterized by swelling of the lip with hyperplasia of the salivary glands; secretion of a clear, thick mucus; and variable inflammation”
Erosion, ulceration, and crusting on the lower lip would emerge due to chronic exposure and enlargement of its mucous membrane.
This kind is caused long period exposure in the sun. The initial symptom is the severely chapped lips that later turns white and scaly.
According to a handful of medical studies, it is painless. However, it usually develops into squamous cell carcinoma if left untreated. It thus advisable to report to your GP if you notice the symptoms of squamous cell carcinoma. Remember this is a type of cancer.
This condition is very common among those aged 40 years and above and tend to affect men than women. You should thus take precaution when going to the sun, you can use sunscreens and more importantly, avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight.
Cheilitis can also occur due to certain drugs. A condition known as drug-induced cancer of the lip would result following the use of drugs such Etretinate, Indinavir, Protease inhibitors and retinoid among others.
These are usually prescribed drugs that would be very strong. Drug-associated one would resolve the use of inducing drugs is stopped.
It is referred to as Miescher`s cheilitis, chronic lipedema or granulomatous macro cheilitis. It involves the enlargement of the lips following the development of non-caseating granulomatous inflammation.
This would interfere with the drainage of orofacial soft tissues and thus result in lymphedema. A condition called median cheilitis or the fissuring of the middle of the lip would be evident. Angular cheilitis would occur alongside this condition.
Apart from the above types, this condition can also be caused by the following:
- Plasma gingivitis
- Crohn’s disease
- Lichen planus
- Lupus erythematosus
Because there are countless types and causes. There are as well several diagnostic tests to determine the underlying causes. In each situation, the cheilitis would result due to one or more causes.
The diagnosis procedures would include a biopsy. Also, the doctor would send to the lab the culture swab from the infected area of your lip. You may also be asked various question including if you’re also experiencing inflammation anywhere else.
Also, the doctor would also examine the symptoms in some cases while trying to establish the underlying causes besides other tests depending on what the doctor suspects to be causing it.
If you have cheilitis that comes and goes after a short while, it is possible for it to become chronic. The main reason why one ends up with a chronic one would be the lack of proper treatment that may be due to improper diagnosis.
In cases where cheilitis is due to dietary issues, allergens or irritants and more, it may turn chronic until you avoid the various causative agents.
You are also at a higher risk of developing chronic cheilitis if you don’t find a solution to the already existing case.
Treatment and remedies
The underlying causes and the severity of the symptoms will dictate the type of the treatment to be applied. In cases where your dermatologist suspects nutritional deficiencies, he/she would recommend a proper dietary plan or even advise you about the supplements.
In cases of infections, antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals would be prescribed accordingly. Allergies and irritations would also be treated using antihistamines, benzoyl peroxide, and salicylic acids.
Other products such as topical steroids, topical antiseptic and filler injections at the corner of the mouth would also be applied but, as your doctor may deem necessary.
In cases of mild symptoms, certain home remedies can also be applied. These include baking soda, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil and more. These products are capable of moisturizing, relieving inflammation, combating infections.
Note that we don’t recommend home remedies as an ultimate solution but to minimize symptoms. Also, you should confirm with your doctor if the symptoms are fully healed after applying the home remedies.
Apart from various treatments, you should also avoid allergens, irritants and stay hydrated all the time. Use sunscreens when out to the sun. Again, you should also avoid smoking, alcoholism and any other condition that would result to dry lips.
In severe cases of cheilitis, the GP may recommend advanced treatments procedures such as cryotherapy, electrocautery, laser ablation or vermilionectomy.
These treatments may have some side effects. However, following the given instructions may minimize symptoms you will end up with.
With proper diagnosis, cheilitis is a manageable condition. If you are not sure about what is causing the inflammation on your lips. Please visit your GP for proper diagnosis and treatment advice.
Remember some cases would occur due to severe systemic and underlying medical conditions. Do not ignore it.
Finally, the more you keep the mild symptoms untreated, the more they may worsen. Ensure the mild symptoms are treated early enough.