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The corners of the mouth often get irritated, particularly in the winter when the lips get chapped. This results in a burning sensation and reddening of the corners of the mouth, and scabs and cracks may develop. The position of the lips and corners of the mouth may make the skin moist and predispose it to symptoms. Orthodontic treatment, diabetes, immunodeficiencies, dry mouth and atopic skin make people more prone to inflammation. In rare cases the symptoms may be caused by B2 (riboflavin) deficiency.


Wash the corners of the mouth with soap and water times daily.  

After washing the area, dry the corners of the mouth and apply hydrocortisone cream containing an antibacterial agent (chlorhexidine) and/or topical antifungal cream twice a day for 1 to 2 weeks. The cream can be purchased from pharmacies without a prescription. The corners of the mouth usually heal within within about a week.

When should I seek treatment?

If angular cheilitis persistis more than a week, keeps recurring or is unilateral, you should visit a doctor or a dentist.

Among other things, the doctor will check whether you have an oral yeast infection (thrush) that should be treated. Yeast infections may sometimes also occur under dentures.

The choice of oral medication for yeast infections depends on the findings in your specific situation. The cracks may also be due to atopic dermatitis or another condition diagnosed and treated by your doctor. 

Information sources: The Finnish Medical Society Duodecim: Terveysportti, Lääkärin tietokanta database

FSHS General Practitioner / 27 February 2023