It’s called angular cheilitis and if you tend to have dry lips and have worn a mask for an extended period of time, you might encounter this mouth menace. Now, along with the threat of pimples and blemishes on the lower face and jawline, we also have to worry about the health and welfare of our lips. “Other names for it are angular stomatitis or perleche and prevention is difficult if you wear a mask all day,” explains Elmer, NJ dermatologist Ingrid Warmuth, MD. Since mask mandates won’t be going anywhere soon, we asked the pros to help guide us toward clear, healthy skin around our mouths, too.
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“Before the era of mask-wearing, angular cheilitis was commonly seen in those with loss of subcutaneous tissue and post-menopausal women,” adds Dr. Warmuth. “It’s caused by a buildup of moisture in the area between the sides of the mouth and the cheeks. As women age, the tissue loss around the mouth can help create more moisture buildup. The buildup gets worse when wearing face coverings or masks, yeast can grow in areas of moisture and warmth.”
So, what can you do if you can’t go mask-free? Coral Gables, FL dermatologist Dr. Janice Lima-Maribona says the best way to prevent a flare-up is by wearing a lip balm like Avène Cicalfate LIPS Restorative Lip Cream ($18) or the EltaMD UV Lip Balm Broad-Spectrum SPF 31 ($11). “It prevents the contact and accumulation of saliva in those corners and having it on can remind you to close your mouth more often,” advises Dr. Maribona. “Also, don’t forget to take masks breaks in the bathroom or office and wear new masks or replace your cloth mask with a clean one as frequently as possible.”
To treat the condition, Dr. Warmuth advises a few DIY at-home hacks. “You can apply antifungal cream to the affected area on a daily basis. Also, just a gentle antiperspirant such as a tap of roll on deodorant might be helpful. Some reports of people adding dryer sheets in a layer to their face covering might also help to keep the moisture at bay. Also, when drying your face after washing it you might use a hair dryer on the cool setting.” If all else fails, Dr. Warmuth recommends a visit to the dermatologist for injections. “Hyaluronic acid filler injections can usually provide immediate relief as they can help make the angles in the corners of the mouth much less deep.”
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