Unlike other parts of the skin, lips do not contain oil glands, so they are a great deal more susceptible to drying out and chapping (cracking). While this may be an occasional problem for most people, some may develop “cheilitis,” which is a more severe form of chapped lips. Dental trauma and excessive saliva production may transform a regular case of chapped lips into cheilitis.
Characterized by cracked skin at the corners of the lips, cheilitis can be caused by an infection. The condition may produce ulcers and white plaques on the surface of the lips, which may be lumpy and appear dark pink or red. Chelitis may progress to more widespread impetigo or candidal skin infection on the adjacent skin and elsewhere. These symptoms often do not respond to self-help measures and require medical treatment from a dermatologist. Cheilitis is most common in patients over the age of 59.
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