What causes cracked mouth corner?

Cracked mouth corner is usually a mild symptom that occurs as a result of environmental factors, personal habits such as licking your lips, or a mild condition such as dehydration or the common cold. Cracked mouth corners are rarely a sign of a severe condition.

Environmental causes of cracked mouth corner

Cracked mouth corners may be caused by environmental conditions including:

  • Cold weather
  • Dry weather
  • Indoor heating
  • Sun damage
  • Wind exposure

Other common causes of cracked mouth corner

Cracked mouth corners may also be caused by:

  • Allergic reaction to lip products such as lipstick or lip balm
  • Anemia (low red blood cell count)
  • Breathing through the mouth
  • Cold sores (herpes simplex virus infection)
  • Common cold (viral respiratory infection)
  • Frequent licking of the lips
  • Mild dehydration
  • Vitamin deficiency (vitamin B)

Serious or life-threatening causes of cracked mouth corner

Rarely, cracked mouth corners may be a symptom of severe dehydration (loss of body fluids and electrolytes). Severe dehydration is a serious or life-threatening condition that should be immediately evaluated in an emergency setting.

Questions for diagnosing the cause of cracked mouth corner

To diagnose your condition, your doctor or licensed health care practitioner will ask you several questions related to your cracked mouth corners including:

  • How long have you experienced cracked mouth corners?
  • Do your cracked mouth corners worsen when you use certain lip products such as lipstick?
  • Are you experiencing any other symptoms along with your cracked mouth corners?
  • Are your cracked mouth corners becoming worse or more frequent?

What are the potential complications of cracked mouth corner?

Cracked mouth corner is generally a harmless symptom that does not produce long-term complications. Damage to the lips from irritation may predispose you to the development of secondary bacterial or fungal infections. Rarely, cracked mouth corners may be a sign of a serious condition such as dehydration. In this case, failure to seek treatment can result in serious complications and permanent damage. Once the underlying cause is diagnosed, it is important for you to follow the treatment plan that you and your health care professional design specifically for you to reduce the risk of potential complications.

Although these complications are rare with cracked lips, left untreated, severe dehydration can lead to serious consequences including:

  • Acute renal (kidney) failure
  • Bacterial infections
  • Electrolyte imbalance
  • Fungal infections


  1. Mouth problems. FamilyDoctor.org. http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/health-tools/search-by-symptom/mouth-problems.html.
  2. Chapped lips. Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002036.htm.

What is cracked mouth corner?

Cracked mouth corners are a symptom in which the corners of the mouth and lips are dry, inflamed, split or chapped. Breaks may appear on the surface, and the mouth corners may be bleeding and painful. The medical terms for cracked mouth corner are angular chelitis and perlèche.

In most cases, cracked mouth corners are not caused by a serious condition and do not affect y... Read more about cracked mouth cornerintroduction


What other symptoms might occur with cracked mouth corner?

Cracked mouth corners may accompany other symptoms, which will vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Symptoms that frequently affect the mouth may also involve other body systems.

Mouth symptoms that may occur along with cracked mouth corner

Cracked mouth corners may accompany other symptoms affecting the mouth including:

    Read more about cracked mouth cornersymptoms

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 9, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Mouth, Teeth and Oral Health