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Section Questions and Answers

Lip Abnormalities and Dry Lips

"Birth defects and developmental disorders frequently affect the craniofacial complex ... most commonly cleft lip or palate" - U.S. Surgeon General's Report

  1. Are lip abnormalities common?
  2. What is Cleft Lip and Palate?
  3. Can excessive exposure to the sun cause lip problems?
  4. What causes dry lips?
  5. What causes the corners of the mouth to crack and get sore?

 
1. Are lip abnormalities common?

  • They are fairly common.
  • There are many types of lip abnormality.

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2. What is a Cleft Lip and Palate?

  • A child may be born with a cleft or opening in the upper lip and palate.
    • The cause of the condition can be hereditary or congenital.
    • The extent of the opening can vary, with the lip being minimally affected in some cases.
    • The result is that the nose and mouth share the same space, and are not divided by the palate.
    • There is difficulty with feeding and speech.
    • As feeding the child is a first priority, professional advice must be sought early.
    • The teeth in the upper jaw are affected.
    • A malocclusion is caused by the abnormal formation of the jaw and the teeth.
    • Treatment by a team of surgeons, orthodontists, and speech therapists, is needed.
    • The success rate for treating this condition is generally good.

Click to enlarge
Cleft lip

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3. Can exposure to sunlight cause lip problems?

  • Excessive exposure to the sun may cause painful splitting of the lips. The medical name for this condition is actinic cheilitis.
    • The problem is worse for people who are more sensitive to the sun's rays.
    • Staying out of the sun and using sun-block preparations will prevent the problem.

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4. What causes sore, dry lips?

  • Exposure to the wind and sun, or licking the lips, are the most common causes.
  • Nasal breathing is often affected by a blocked nose.
    The cause may be an allergy or a head cold, and can result in mouth breathing.
    This is accompanied by dry chapped lips, which can be raw and cracked.
    The cracked lips can be painful and need to be attended to.
  • Viruses can also cause these symptoms.
  • Lip salves will prevent further drying and aid healing.

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5. What causes the corners of the mouth to crack and get sore?

  • This condition is called angular cheilosis. It is caused by:
    • Dribbling of saliva.
    • Over-closure of the mouth due to excessive wearing down of the teeth.
    • Problems with dentures.
    • General health problems.
  • The cause has to be found so that treatment can be planned.

Click to enlarge
Angular cheilosis

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