Why do the corners of my mouth split?

A couple of years ago I had a problem with my mouth – both the corners started splitting, causing very painful open sores. I still get these every now and again, and wanted to let people know what the cause is for me in the hope it might help others.

I was going to add a photo showing Angular Cheilitis, but I think this might put people off visiting my blog!

Searching for a solution

At first, I thought they were cold sores, and used the relevant treatment from the chemist. I usually use Zovirax for cold sores, but this just wasn’t working.

I try to be health conscious and thought it might be some sort of vitamin deficiency. I thought it unlikely, as I already take a number of supplements, but decided to do some research into this problem with my trusty friend Mr Google.

The medical term for this sort of problem is Angular Cheilitis, and it’s cause seems a bit of a mystery. Is it a cold sore? Is it an iron / vitamin B / vitamin C deficiency? Is it an infection?

I tried boosting my intake of these vitamins and iron, but nothing seemed to work.

In fact, the sores seemed to be getting worse, and I found myself constantly applying vaseline or lip balm to sooth the sores. I even wondered if this was causing the sores to get worse.

The surprise discovery

After a couple of months, I was driven mad with this, and even considered taking a day off work to visit my doctor. (I was working on a contract, so wouldn’t have been paid for a trip to the doctor!)

By chance, I happened to be talking to a colleague about this and he said he had exactly the same problem in the past. He went through the same process of trying different treatments, until he discovered the cause:


Yes, that’s right. It was the toothpaste he was using at the time that caused his problem. I thought back to when this problem started, and we had changed our brand of toothpaste just a week or so before it developed.

I immediately changed back to my old toothpaste, and to my amazement, the sores went away within a week.

I had nearly forgotten about this, but in the last few days I have been getting a tingle in the corners of my mouth – a sign that they might be splitting soon. And guess what? We recently changed brand of toothpaste again!

I would like to do more research into the ingredients that cause this, so will be keeping a list of toothpastes that cause it. So far, I have two –

Aquafresh – one of their stripy varieties. I try to avoid all stripy ones these days.

Pronamel – Gentle Whitening variety. I have used some other Pronamel toothpastes without any problem.

Having lived with these sores for nearly two months in the past, and knowing the embarrassment it causes, I hope that this might help someone out there.

Here’s a disclaimer in case one of these toothpaste companies tries to sue me – This post in no way attempts to prove that there is a link between toothpaste, in particular the brands mentioned, and Angular Cheilitis. Everything written here is my own opinion and is based on my own experience.

Failing eyesight

Yesterday I paid a visit to my optician, Specsavers. They were offering free eyesight tests, and I wanted to get mine checked out. In the past, I would have had a free check through my work but now I am ‘on my own’ and do not get these health benefits anymore.

Apart from the offer of a free eye test, I use computers an awful lot, sometimes more than 12 hours a day. This means that I often get dry eyes and by the end of the day, my eyes can be quite painful.

This is a sad by-product of working in the IT industry for a number of years. I used to put it down to the air-conditioned office – certainly a factor as it dries out the air, and so dries out your eyes. But now I realise it is due to the concentrated effort you need to keep looking at a computer screen.

Normally your eyes will keep themselves in tip-top condition, and part of the in-built protection is blinking. Apart from wiping any dirt off the surface of the eye, this also ensures the eye is kept moist.

The other effect of using computer screens too much is the constant short distance focusing. This causes the muscles in the eye that focuses the lens to get tired. They are always in use and being held in the same fixed position. Imagine trying to do a plank for 10 minutes.

Make sure you blink your eyes

When using a computer, you will probably need to consciously make sure you are doing this. A brain in deep thought will keep the eyes open far too long, causing them to dry out over time.

Focus on something at a distance every 10 minutes

This allows the eye muscles to relax rather than spending all day focused at a short distance.

In the future I’m sure we will see an increase in the number of eye problems as people use computers, iPhones and other technology much more.

So, how was my eye test?

As expected, my eyesight is slowly failing. Not by much – my long distance eyesight is still perfect, but my short distance eyesight is slowly failing. I can compensate at the moment, as it’s not too bad, but my eyes get too tired at the end of the day.

Perhaps a result of increasing age, but more likely the constant, daily use of computers over the last 20 years. I hope all those bloggers who probably spend long periods of time on the computer will at least take a break every 10 minutes and make sure they blink their eyes regularly.

People will normally blink about 10 times a minute, but I know from personal experience that computer use can reduce my blink rate to as low as once a minute. Far too long, and the main reason, I feel, that my eyes are starting to fail.