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Mouth Diseases

Why does the inside of my mouth keep peeling?

01/31/2001

Question:

Several months ago, my tongue became sore and ice tasted salty. My throat had a few white patches but that went away.My tongue is no longer sore. I have gone to several doctors. I have been given an anti-viral medication and then an anti-fungal medication...both in pill form. Nothing helped. Now, my palate, the skin between my teeth and inner cheeks, inside of my lower lip and the back of my throat regularly peels. Tiny bumps or blisters come and go in my mouth.It changes daily. Eating doesn`t hurt. My mouth feels dry. Could this be a food allergy? HOw long do I need to eliminate a food to see if I shouldn`t eat it? Could it be stress? This is making me nuts. I am a 46 yr. old teacher.

Answer:

While you give a complex history with several internal questions, I will try to keep my answer simple.

Peeling of the skin of the mouth, without pain, is most often associated with mild chemical irritation (basically an unintended form of chemical peel). A number of mouthwashes and especially new toothpaste formulations that contain special detergents (often the tartar-control or complete types) are common culprits, but overuse of lozenges, mints, chewable vitamins, etc. can sometimes be implicated. More severe burns and sloughing are associated with things like powdered aspirin formulas or phenol-containing agents. These areas typically don`t hurt because only the superficial layers of the skin in the mouth are affected. Dryness of the mouth can worsen this peeling affect due to the lack of saliva which normally dilutes and rinses aways the offending agents. Dryness can just be associated with aging (yes, it is true, we dry up as we get old) but is a very common side effect to many commonly-prescribed drugs.

To be sure there isn`t something more serious happening, see if you can locate an oral and maxillofacial pathologist for a consultation. An alternate choice would be an oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

Good luck!

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Response by:

John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD John R Kalmar, DMD, PhD
Clinical Professor of Pathology
Associate Dean of Dentistry Administration
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University