This patient information and photograph on Perleche is provided by John L. Meisenheimer, M.D. a board certified Dermatologist and skin care specialist based in Orlando, Florida. This information is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice or treatment of a dermatologist or other physician.
What is it? Perleche is a peculiar disorder of the skin that occurs more commonly in older
adults. Typically it appears as a moist, red or white eruption between the skin folds at the corners of the mouth. There may be cracks or fissures and often it is sore or tender.
What causes it? Moisture has a tendency to collect between the skin folds especially in the corners of the mouth. This is more common if the individual has no teeth or poorly fitting dentures. Sometimes it is due to sagging skin in the elderly. The macerated skin is then easily infected with bacteria and yeast.
Is it dangerous? For the typical healthy person Perleche is a harmless disorder, but it can be uncomfortable. It is not related to cancer and it does not involve internal organs.
Can it be cured? Treatment can often improve Perleche, but unless the provoking factors are eliminated (moisture in the skin fold) repeat episodes will continue.
Will it spread? Perleche stays localized to the corners of the mouth.
Is it contagious? Perleche is not contagious, but the bacteria and yeast overgrowth may be infectious to susceptible people.