Itching and burning cracks right at the corners of the mouth is kind of common, it’s uncomfortable, and it’s called perléche. Because of the cracks, most people think it’s dry skin, but it’s not dry skin. It’s actually caused by a yeast infection, and it’s the same yeast that most women carry in their body and the same yeast that causes them uncomfortable itching yeast infections. Because this is caused by a yeast, it is aggravated by moisture, because yeast thrive in moist areas and closed areas, and this is a perfect set-up because at the corners of the mouth, the way the lips come together, they cause a closed area and, if there’s any saliva there, that accounts for additional moisture. When people get this, invariably they do two things that make it worse. The first is, because they consider it to be dry because they see a crack, they put a moisturizer on and, again, moisture makes the yeast grow even more. Secondly, because it’s uncomfortable, and it burns, and it really feels peculiar, a lot of people take the tip of their tongue and they go like this. And they do it to test it, to feel it, to see, is the problem still there and, interestingly, people do it very often, a couple of times a minute, it’s just a natural reflex.
So how do we cure this problem? The first thing is obviously stop licking the corners of your mouth. The second is, get an over-the-counter anti-yeast medicine, such as Lotrimin which has clotrimazole as the active ingredient which is good to fight yeast. Put a little bit on the corners of your mouth four to six times a day, just a very small amount, and then put a little Vaseline or Aquaphor on top so, if you do accidentally touch it with the tip of your tongue, the Aquaphor or Vaseline will keep the moisture away from the problem. Give it four to seven days to cure the problem. If it hasn’t done that by that period of time, then you should see a dermatologist who will give you a prescription for an anti-yeast in an ointment vehicle which again will help protect against additional moisture which aggravates the problem.