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Author: Dr Amanda Oakley, Dermatologist, Hamilton, New Zealand, 2011.
Stomatitis refers to inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth, including the inner aspect of the lips, cheeks, gums, tongue and throat. It is a type of mucositis. It can be acute or chronic, mild or serious.
Inflammation of the vermilion of the lips is known as cheilitis, inflammation of the tongue is glossitis, inflammation of the gums is gingivitis, and inflammation of the back of the mouth is pharyngitis.
Stomatitis results in pain, stinging and soreness. It can present with:
These can lead to dehydration and malnutrition.
Stomatitis can be due to injury, infection, allergy, systemic or skin disease. Most commonly, it is due to:
Some of the causes of stomatitis are listed in the table below.
Relevant investigations depend on the likely cause of stomatitis and whether it is accompanied by other symptoms internally or skin rashes.
They may include:
Treatment for stomatitis depends on the cause. If it is due to allergy to a medication, the medication must be promptly stopped. However, it may be necessary to continue a causative medication when stomatitis arises as an expected adverse reaction to chemotherapy.
Nutritional deficiencies should be identified and corrected, for example, folic acid can reduce methotrexate-induced stomatitis.
Immunobullous diseases may be treated with systemic corticosteroids or other immunosuppressive treatments.
Symptomatic treatment may include:
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