Cheilitis simplex K13.0

Author: Prof. Dr. med. Peter Altmeyer

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Last updated on: 21.04.2021

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cheilitis sicca; cheilitis vulgaris; Eczema of the lips; Licking eczema; periorales eczema

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Most frequent form of a chronic, polyätiological, often idiopathic, but mostly irritant toxic inflammation of the lips.

Aggravation of the basic symptoms due to frequent moistening of the red of the lips by ticklike licking (see also lip eczema).

A frequent drug-induced variant is the form triggered by isotretinoin or acitretin.

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Various triggers are discussed, in particular physical causes (wetness, cold, light), allergic genesis(cheilitis allergica), toxic-degenerative events (e.g. with constant habitual lip licking [ lip eczema]), mechanical causes (such as constant wearing of pacifiers).

Also occurring as a symptom of atopic eczema or as a side effect of internal medication (e.g. isotretinoin in acne therapy).

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Age: Preferably adolescents and younger adults. In larger studies, the age of manifestation ranged from 9 to 79 years.

Clinical features
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Rough, reddened, tense, painful lips with erosions, loose and adherent scales, rhagades (mostly in the middle of the lips and/or in the corners of the mouth).

Rarely small vesicles.

The symptoms often lead to the compulsive constant licking of the lips, which initially brings relief by moistening, but permanently leads to an aggravation of the symptoms.

Differential diagnosis
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Cheilitis can be assigned to another underlying disease. In various studies the assignments were distributed as follows:

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  • Greasy nourishing topical preparations (e.g. Rolip Mandelic or Rolip Emulsion, Bepanthen Lip Cream, Ceralip Lip Cream, Vaselinum alb., Lanolin), if necessary short-term weakly acting glucocorticoids such as 0.5% hydrocortisone cream.
  • In the weeping, chapped stage, moist dressings with antiseptic or anti-inflammatory additives such as 1% chlorhexidine or 2% dexpanthenol, if necessary also short-term greasy-moist treatment with a thickly applied glucocorticoid-containing ointment such as 0.5% hydrocortisone ointment, over this moist compresses.

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  1. Freeman S et al (1999) Cheilitis: analysis of 75 cases referred to a contact dermatitis clinic. At J Contact Dermat 10:198-200
  2. Gorbatova LN (2000) Atopic cheilitis in children: the risk factors and clinical symptoms. Stomatologiia (Moscow) 79:48-50
  3. Nagaraja Kanwar AJ et al (1996) Frequency and significance of minor clinical features in various age-related subgroups of atopic dermatitis in children. Pediatric Dermatol 13:10-13
  4. Wahab MA et al (2011) Minor criteria for atopic dermatitis in children. Mymensingh Med J 20:419-424


Please ask your physician for a reliable diagnosis. This website is only meant as a reference.


Last updated on: 21.04.2021