Lip fissures are severe cracks in the lips and corners of the mouth. The cracks are painful, may bleed and often recurring. According to Dr. Charles Heaton of the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Dermatology, fissures occur for different reasons. Younger people develop fissures for frequent lip licking, while older adults may suffer from improper fitting dentures. A lip fissure may develop a bacterial or yeast infection known as angular chelitis.
Heaton states lip fissures are commonly treated with antibacterial and anti-yeast medications. Using nystatin/triamcinolone ointment is beneficial as the ointment prevents fungal growth and decreases inflammation. Covering the area with a barrier cream is also helpful. The cream repels moisture such as saliva so the medication is able to penetrate the lip fissure effectively. Patients are advised to avoid licking the fissures to promote healing.
According to a 2008 study published in the “British Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery," resurfacing using a carbon dioxide laser increases lip collagen and elasticity. The study found the treatment safe and effective in treating chronic lip fissures, but suggested treatment was not readily available for all patients. The patients studied had suffered from lip fissures for several months to several years. Of the 11 patients studied, eight had no recurrence of the lip fissure.
Patients may be wearing ill-fitting dentures that are creating the lip fissures. The wrong size dentures often cause skin to fold at the corners of the mouth. Saliva pools at the corners of the mouth, while bacteria and fungi grow in the area leading to the lip fissure. Correct fitting dentures will not create folds at the mouth and eliminate the occurrence of lip fissures, reports Maryland dentist Dr. Steven Pohlhaus.
Preventing dry, chapped lips may also prevent further complications such as lip fissures. Topical treatments such as petroleum jelly, aloe vera and almond oil keep lips moist and prevent chapping which often lead to dry, cracked lips. Dehydration also causes lips to become dry and cracked. A person should increase water intake throughout the day; avoiding caffeinated beverages which cause the body to lose fluids is also suggested.