Those Are Not Cold Sores, They're Angular Cheilitis Credit : Diana Polekhina/Unsplash

Do you ever get those dry crusty patches at the corner of your mouth that painfully crack when you smile or eat? No, those are not cold sores. They're called angular cheilitis and they're actually very common among men and women. These sores are usually caused by drool. Dermatologist  Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy explains to Refinery29 that since yeast is always present in the saliva and mouth and when we drool in our sleep, the corners of the mouth acts like a rain gutter and collects it. The yeast buildup results in that dried and flaky skin at the mouth's corners.

We tend to sleep with our mouths open when it's too hot or if our nose is stuffed. Also, when our lips are dry, we tend to lick them more and that, too, contributes to angular cheilitis. Cosmetic dentist Brian Kantor adds that people who have yeast infections on the tongue or mouth, have inflammatory illnesses, wear braces, or take prescription drugs like antibiotics, corticosteroid and oral retinoids are prone to angular cheilitis. Regular smokers and those who have diabetes, anemia or cancer can also get this condition. However, it can be caused by something as simple as dehydration.

Symptoms of Angular Cheilitis

According to Self, the symptoms of Angular Cheilitis are redness and swelling at your mouth's corners, thickening or whitening of the skin around the mouth, crusting skin that crack at the corners of the mouth and pain, burning or soreness. These can all be found at one or both corners and can even extend to part of your cheeks.  

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Angular Cheilitis Treatment

If this is something that you regularly notice, visit a dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment. To decrease inflammation and prevent fungus, you may be prescribed a topical corticosteroid and an antifungal cream. If you can't get to a doctor right away, Dr. Jegasothy recommends any over the counter athlete's foot cream like Lotrimin Ultra. Just make sure to get a new tube and use it exclusively for your mouth. Use it twice a day for best results.

Angular Cheilitis Prevention

If you tend to sleep with your mouth open, protect the corners of your mouth with petroleum jelly. It will also help to stay hydrated, especially in cold weather. Do your best to stop licking your lips, as well. Of course, maintaining good oral hygiene is a must. Brush and floss at least twice a day then use an antiseptic mouth rinse. Women's Health recommends Equate Antiseptic Mouthrinse, ACT Total Care Clean Mint Mouthwash, CloSYS Oral Health Rinse and Crest Pro-Health Multi-Protection Mouthwash.

Diet wise, watch your carbohydrate and sugar intake as diets rich in both create an environment where oral candidiasis thrives. Registered dietitian and nutritionist Maya Feller specializes in chronic disease prevention and she tells Refinery29 that a diet that's deficient in vitamins B2, B3, B6, and iron can increase the risk of angular cheilitis. It will help to load up on protein and vitamin B-rich foods such as salmon, tuna, red meat, dark green vegetables, soy products, fruits and nuts and seeds.

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