YANMD: Cold sore, zit, canker sore, angular cheilitis?
September 16, 2019 10:21 AM   Subscribe

On very rare occasions (e.g. once a year, maybe every other year) I get a small "sore" spot in the corner of my mouth, right on the outer edge of the lip, but just barely. It is barely visible to others, which doesn't seem to correlate with what I think of as a "cold sore." I think it might coincide with that "time of the month" , stress, and/or feeling a tad rundown. If I open my mouth too wide, it's tight and kind of feels like I've split the skin. It gets a slightly rough scab-like texture to it and then goes away within a few days. What is this?!
posted by tealcoffeecup to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
Sounds like a cold sore to me. I've been getting them pretty regularly since I was in grade school. The splitting skin thing always happens to me when I get them on the corner of my mouth and sometimes when they're on other parts of my lips.
posted by t-town at 10:33 AM on September 16, 2019

Maybe angular cheilitis?
posted by lovelygirl at 10:37 AM on September 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

For me, this caused by angular chelitis and was solved by taking B vitamin supplements. I don't get the cracks very frequently anymore, but when I do, a few days of supplements clears them right up. (Mine did not go away on their own as yours do.)
posted by purplemonkie at 10:42 AM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yup, I get those too sometimes. I wonder if it might be a small zit, who knows, but they're probably just a different strain. I get regular cold sores, and sores inside my nose, and sometimes two right next to each other, and big ones, and little ones, and canker sores inside my mouth, and...yay viruses!
posted by Melismata at 10:50 AM on September 16, 2019

I'll note that I get cold sores when I'm tired/stressed/just also came down with a cold. I also always get my coldsores in the same spot on my upper lip, about a 1/2 inch from the center. They start at the border of lip/skin, but as they grow they crow inwards to the lip, never expanding into the non-lip skin of my face. As there's little lip at the corner, that could explain the size. Meanwhile my area of occurence is about the largest setion of lip available. From first feelings of tingling, it's usualy 9-14 days for me for a cold sore to disappear, and that's with putting on lots of abreva.

I'd never heard of angular cheilitis until now, but that seems to be quite similar.

I think you can safely eliminate zit, and I thought canker sores were primarly/only on the inside of the mouth.

Looking at your description, you never mention it being blistery before it gets scabby. Along with it going away in a few days makes me suspect angular cheilitis.
posted by nobeagle at 10:58 AM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Next time you have one of these, go to your doctor and ask them. I don't think strangers on the internet can tell you whether or not you are getting cold sores or something else. (And if they are cold sores, it might be helpful for you to know that so you can get the fastest treatment.)

(I had a thing on my mouth once and happened to be at the doctor for something else; she looked right at it, and said, "Not a cold sore. Put some petroleum jelly on it regularly and it will heal.")
posted by bluedaisy at 11:10 AM on September 16, 2019

I think it's typical for recurrences of cold sores to be mild compared to what you might experience right after the initial infection. When I was in college I got noticeable cold sores a few times but since then all I've experienced is the occasional tingly feeling near the corner of my mouth that goes away in a day or so without developing into a sore or maybe a couple of times a very small bump that sounds similar to what you describe. This page on oral herpes describes how symptoms can be mild and subtle, particularly with recurrences.
posted by Redstart at 11:12 AM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Thirding angular chelitis, which is common enough in Poland to have a vernacular name (zajady). I tend to get it when my immune system is stressed, during colds and so on. Vaseline helps it heal faster, and a B complex vitamin can help as well.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:36 AM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Another vote for angular chelitis. It's also associated with iron deficiency, which might explain the correlation with your period.
posted by yeahlikethat at 12:02 PM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Yeah, another vote for angular chelitis. See if your GP or dermatologist will prescribe you a little steroid cream (Desonide), which clears it up very quickly. Just a teensy amount is needed twice a day until it's gone or when you feel it returning.

To prevent more angular chelitis, dab a little Aquaphor on the corners of your lips before bed. Your drool is essentially a meat tenderizer and can cause or exacerbate angular chelitis. The Aquaphor seals the area up so your drool won't soak into the corners while you sleep.
posted by dayintoday at 12:26 PM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Also voting angular chelitis which I've had a couple times in my life, most recently about 2 years ago. A mix of coconut oil with a dash of tea tree oil really helped me. I just put the mixture in a plastic tub and dabbed a few times a day. But, as noted above, see a doctor to be sure what the problem is.
posted by acidnova at 12:55 PM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Another vote for angular chelitis. If the source of angular chelitis is fungi or bacteria, your PCP/GP or dermatologist can prescribe you an antifungal (nysatatin, ketoconazole, clotrimazole, miconazole) or antibacterial (mupirocin, fusidic acid) cream. If you're in the US, you can also purchase a steroid cream like hydrocortisone 1% over-the-counter to calm the inflammation.

In your case, it sounds like putting some type of barrier cream (Vaseline, Aquaphor, etc.) might suffice in terms of (faster) healing and prevention.
posted by postmortemsalmon at 2:58 PM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

The OTC treatment for cold sores/herpes is Abreva, speeds healing a lot. I get 2 types, 1 on my lip will be a single painful sore, or a cluster of tiny blisters on my nose. They're transmissible, so don't kiss anybody new; babies can get pretty sick. I get cold sores when my immune system is aggravated by a cold or flu, or from too much sun.

Angular chelitis
Herpes cold sore
posted by theora55 at 4:08 PM on September 16, 2019

I'm not your dentist, and would never dream to diagnose over the internet, but what you describe does indeed sound like Angular Cheilitis, as others have mentioned and described.

A dentist is also a good place to go for lesions around the lips and mouth, as we see these all day (most) every day.

OTC remedies like neosporin work pretty well, but a dentist can also prescribe an antifungal or steroid cream, depending on what's appropriate.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:54 PM on September 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I had a similar lesion in the corner of my mouth once when I visited my dentist (I'd had similar sores a few times previously over the years, but this one happened to coincide with a dental visit). I asked him about the "cold sore" and he replied that cold sores very rarely occur in the corner of the mouth and then asked me "Are you on some kind of wacky diet?" He went on to say that such lesions were usually caused by a vitamin deficiency, and advised me to try some OTC B12 vitamins. I did, and the condition cleared up. A few years later, I was diagnosed with Lupus and a few other assorted collateral conditions, and my rheumatologist gave me B-12 shots at most of my appointments (based on blood tests). I'm not saying you have an autoimmune disease; I'm just saying that my dentist was on the mark as far as my particular vitamin deficiency.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:42 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

Saw a doctor - angular chieilitis it was! I also apparently have a vitamin B12, D, and iron deficiencies...
posted by tealcoffeecup at 6:48 PM on September 26, 2019

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