Perlèche (Angular cheilitis/Cheilosis)

Your child is in a great mood, but it seems that laughing and smiling are making him or her wince instead. Is the corner of your child’s lips irritated, cracked and sometimes even bleeding? It might possibly be due to perlèche (also known as angular cheilitis or cheilosis).

La perlèche

Like most children, yours is the happy-go-lucky type and smiling comes naturally. But lately, your child has been complaining about sharp pain every time he or she tries to smile. You may have also noticed that your child is constantly licking his or her lips despite your attempts to stop this bad habit. How can you get rid of the small cracks at the corner of your child’s lips for good?

What is perlèche?

Perlèche is an irritation at the corners of the lips. When someone suffers from perlèche, the corners of the lips become very red and dry, and can sometimes turn whitish in colour. There are often fissures or crusts that can occasionally bleed. Usually, perlèche affects both sides of the mouth, but it is possible for it to occur on only one side. It can sometimes also spread to the cheek or inside the mouth. Generally, it causes a lot of pain; simply laughing, smiling or opening the mouth become dreadful, making it quite difficult for the person to eat properly since certain foods, especially acidic foods, can lead to pain or a burning sensation.

What causes perlèche?

People who have the bad habit of constantly licking their lips to make them moist are often affected by perlèche. A deep wrinkle or ill-fitted dentures, which cause a fold at the corners of the lips where saliva can accumulate, can also lead to this problem. In addition, perlèche can be of infectious origin, due to a bacterium, virus or fungus, and finally, another cause of this condition can be a lack of certain nutrients (vitamins A and B, iron, folic acid, zinc).

What should I do for perlèche?

A few changes in your daily habits could prevent or eliminate the problem. Here are a few suggestions:

  • As much as possible, correct your child’s bad habit of constantly licking his or her lips.
  • Reduce his or her intake of acidic foods and beverages.
  • Apply lip balm regularly, which will keep lips hydrated.
  • Protect the child’s lips by applying lip balm during outdoor outings that expose them to the wind and cold. Choose a product that contains sunscreen when the child is exposed to the sun.
  • Promote a healthy, balanced diet that is rich in vitamins and other essential nutrients.

You should see a doctor if:

  • fissures, redness or other upsetting symptoms persist despite using preventative measures;
  • lesions become whitish in colour. This could be caused by a fungus, which would require antifungal treatment;
  • •lesions are yellowish. In this case, a bacterium might be the culprit, so antibiotics might be appropriate.

Perlèche is a minor problem, but one that causes a lot of pain to those who suffer from it. Your pharmacist can help you choose an appropriate hydrating product for the lips, and advise you or direct you to a doctor if he or she believes they are infected.

A common childhood problem, perlèche is a condition that can be alleviated with your pharmacist’s help. Although it is not dangerous, it is not without discomfort and inconveniences. Fix it as soon as possible so that the whole world can go back to enjoying the most beautiful smile… that of your little angel!