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What is Perleche?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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Sometimes referred to as cheilosis, or angular stomatitis, perleche is a series of lesions or cracks in the corners of the mouth. Because of the position of the cracks, perleche can be a source of constant pain, with the discomfort enhanced when attempting to eat or drink, or even carry on a conversation. Left untreated, perleche can progress to a point that the cracks or lesions begin to bleed, and may even form into infected ulcers.

As with many physical ailments, perleche is often associated with a lack of proper nutrition. Specifically, perleche may develop if the body is not receiving a reasonable amount of riboflavin or iron on a daily basis. Persons who do not eat a balanced diet each day are much more likely to develop perleche, and also have a more difficult time recovering from the condition.

Perleche may also occur as a reaction to an allergy or even a medication. Often, identifying the irritant that is causing the outbreak can reverse the condition. Simple allergy tests will indicate whether an allergy is the source of the condition. If that is the case, removing the allergen from the diet or environment of the perleche sufferer will allow the condition to heal. A qualified physician will be aware if any prescription medications may have the potential to cause perleche in some patients, and be able to alter the dosage or even prescribe a different medication if necessary.

Perleche can be treated with ease while the origin of the health issue is identified and addressed. Using a compound to add moisture to the area will often bring a measure of relief. Many types of medicated lip balms can help with perleche, and even plain old petroleum jelly in a light coating can soothe the pain associated with the condition. However, it is important to seek the services of a qualified physician if the condition seems to persist, as cracked lips can be an early sign of several more serious health issues.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGEEK, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By Monika — On Sep 19, 2011

@sunnySkys - That is sad about your friend. I hope eventually she can make a full recovery from anorexia and all of her other health problems.

My mom actually had perleche not too long ago. She developed a food allergy to bananas. Unfortunately for my mother, she loves bananas and eats them all the time! But when she went to her doctor because of the condition of her lips, her doctor suggested allergy testing.

My mom got better pretty much as soon as she eliminated bananas from her diet. I know she misses eating bananas, but for her it wasn't worth dealing with the perleche.

By sunnySkys — On Sep 18, 2011

I have a friend who has struggled with anorexia for years. Along with the other health conditions she's developed, she developed perleche also, because her body wasn't getting all the nutrients she needs.

For awhile, she had made a recovery and was eating normally. The perleche went away during this time. Unfortunately, every time she relapses the perleche comes back.

You would think all the health conditions would be enough to make her want to eat. Unfortunately, anorexia really is a sickness all its own.

By anon35884 — On Jul 08, 2009

look a little further - yeast (candida) often causes perleche. treatment for thrush often clears up the cracks. angular stomatitis is also often associated with dentures not adequately cleaned.

By anon27250 — On Feb 25, 2009

um...tell your dentist to do some reading on the Mayo Clinic site about perleche - then grab your dental records and find a new dentist.

By anon26994 — On Feb 22, 2009

um....i have this and my dentist told me it was because of the shape of my lips. water collects and makes a fungus.

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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