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Dental and Oral Health Center

Corner-of-mouth fissure

08/03/2006

Question:

For the past three weeks, I have been bothered by a small fissure in one corner of my mouth. It starts healing, but after a few days it cracks open again. I don`t have skin folds, and the corners of my mouth are usually dry. I`ve tried ChapStick, but it does not help. If this is an infection, are there any over-the-counter treatments I could try?

Answer:

The most common cause for cracking and redness at the corner of the mouth is a mild yeast infection.  ChapStick and other petroleum-based materials will often prolong such an infection by sealing moisture in the keratin layer of the epithelium, resulting in a perfect environment for the yeast.  

There really are no over-the-counter medications that would treat a yeast infection in this area, plus there could be other areas of yeast infection or colonization in the mouth that could be perpetuating the problem at the corner of the mouth.  It would be a good idea to see an oral pathologist for evaluation and treatment.

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Response by:

Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD Carl M Allen, DDS, MSD
Professor Emeritus of Oral Pathology
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University