A type of fungus called Candida can cause infections in the mouth and throat and even on the lips. This latter type of infection can be called lip fungus.
Symptoms of Lip Fungus
When the lips are affected by Candida, the corners of the mouth can be cracked and red, explains the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This cracking is also known as cheilosis or cheilitis. Candida can also cause an infection inside the mouth. The Columbia University Medical Center reports that white patches can form on the insides of the cheeks or on the tongue. You might notice these white patches around the insides of your lips.
Causes of Lip Fungus
Candida is normally found on the skin and in the digestive system of healthy people, explains the CDC. It doesn't typically cause any problems. However, in some circumstances, this normally harmless fungus can multiply and cause an infection.
The fungus can affect the lips in people who wear poorly fitting dentures. It can also occur in people who lick or rub the corners of the mouth. Some underlying health conditions, like diabetes and immune system deficiencies, can make people more vulnerable.
Treatment for Lip Fungus
Candida is highly treatable, reassures Columbia University. Medicated ointments can help clear up infections on the skin. Your doctor can also prescribe medicated mouthwashes or lozenges to clear up any fungus inside the mouth. For people with severe Candida infections, oral anti-yeast medications might be used. When you visit your doctor or dentist, they can provide more specific information about the treatment that best suits your situation.
Prevention of Lip Fungus
For people who wear dentures, ensuring the dentures fit well may help prevent Candida infections in and around the mouth. When dentures don't fit well, the upper and lower jaws might not be separated enough by the dentures. This could contribute to the development of lip fungus. Visit your dentist to see if your dentures are aligned correctly. If your dentures no longer fit well, your dentist may be able to adjust the fit. This can be done by either applying new surface material to the base of the dentures or by making a new base for the dentures. The dentures can be completely remade, if necessary.
The Candida fungus grows well in the moist skin folds at the corners of the mouth. If you tend to lick your lips or rub the corners of your mouth, try to break the habit.
The CDC reports that maintaining good oral health can help prevent Candida infections, too. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day with a toothbrush like the Colgate 360°, which is equipped with the latest innovations to give you a whole mouth clean. Don't forget to floss, too.
If you're worried about lip fungus in the corners of your mouth or on your lips, see your dentist. The prognosis for this fungus is good, once the cause has been eliminated.