The field of medical pathology uses the term angular cheilitis. I’m looking for a common word or phrase to use in place of this highly specialized technical term that I fear is likely to be known only by specialists.

It has several synonyms that are still too fancy for what I’m looking to use this for, including perlèche and rhagades. Is there any common term for this condition in English? My searches on Google were fruitless!

According to the the OED, cheilitis means:

Pathology. Inflammation of the lip.

It’s composed of two scientific forms: the combining form cheil‑, cheilo‑ from Greek χειλο- meaning lip, plus the suffix ‑itis meaning inflammation.

The Free Dictionary provides more details about this scientific term:

a disorder of the lips marked by scaling and fissures at the corners of the mouth; caused by a deficiency of riboflavin

What do regular people call this in English?

  • What is angular cheilitis? ...also called angular stomatitis, cheilosis and perleche (perlèche). Jul 26, 2019 at 11:31
  • @FumbleFingers But are they common words in English? I mean, are they something like "mouth ulcer" or "canker sore" for "Aphthous stomatitis"?
    – BeatsMe
    Jul 26, 2019 at 11:53
  • 1
    It looks like the answer may well be 'No'. Have you tried medical sites, BM? There's a Medical Sciences SE, for instance. Jul 26, 2019 at 12:07
  • I never knew there was such a thing – I certainly don’t know a word for it (or didn’t, until now). Jul 26, 2019 at 12:22
  • @BeatsMe I noticed that you were already linking to perlèche so I figure that’s still not the common term you’re looking for. I’ve therefore edited your question in the hopes of clarifying it. Please make sure my edit is in line with what you wanted to ask; if it isn’t, please don’t hesitate to remove anything I’ve added but which do not mean.
    – tchrist
    Jul 27, 2019 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


PERLECHE Pronunciation (US): Play (GB): Play Dictionary entry overview: What does perleche mean?

• PERLECHE (noun) The noun PERLECHE has 1 sense:

  1. a disorder of the lips marked by scaling and fissures at the corners of the mouth; caused by a deficiency of riboflavin Familiarity information: PERLECHE used as a noun is very rare.

PERLECHE (noun) Sense 1 perleche Meaning: A disorder of the lips marked by scaling and fissures at the corners of the mouth; caused by a deficiency of riboflavin Classified under: Nouns denoting stable states of affairs Synonyms: cheilosis; perleche

  • 3
    I presume from the description that it looks similar to a "cold sore". Is that correct? if so it is probably called a cold sore. In contrast I believe a Canker sore, also called aphthous ulcers, show up as open sores on the inside of your mouth not outside.
    – Brad
    Jul 26, 2019 at 12:57
  • 1
    What is the source of your quotation? Please provide attribution (and a link if possible)—otherwise, we could assume you simply made it up yourself. Jul 26, 2019 at 13:49
  • @Brad This question has been very informative... I always had 'cold sores' as a child (which my mother treated with gentian violet, leading my teachers to continually ask if I had been chewing the end of a purple pen). I was vaguely puzzled that I never got them any more, since I clearly must have the virus. Due to this question I think I probably just had 'perleche' caused by the 'moist environment' generated by sucking my thumb...
    – Spagirl
    Jul 26, 2019 at 14:11
  • I got the above quote from on line (Audio Dictionary) but maybe a better example is below from the BIOLOGY ONLINE DICTIONARY biology-online.org
    – Brad
    Jul 26, 2019 at 15:18
  • 1
    @tchrist - Based on comments above, It appears OP was looking for “cold sore” I think Brad should update his answer to include it.
    – Jim
    Jul 27, 2019 at 19:20

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