Glandular Cheilitis

What is Glandular Cheilitis?

Glandular cheilitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the extra salivary glands located in the mucous membrane and submucosa of the lips, which is mainly observed in the elderly. The lower lip is more often affected.

Causes of Glandular Cheilitis

The development of pathology is completely associated with disorders of the small salivary glands scattered over the entire surface of the oral mucosa.

Pathogenesis during Glandular Cheilitis

The following types of pathology of the glandular apparatus are noted:

  • increase in size and, accordingly, functional activity;
  • increase in functional activity without increasing the size of the glands themselves;
  • violation of the location of the glands.

The last of the above matters the most. Normally, these salivary glands are found only on the mucous membrane.

In case of violations, they are located on the red border of the lips and even on the surrounding skin. As a result, it is here that a sufficiently large amount of saliva is constantly allocated, which leads to the development of inflammatory changes. By its nature, the disease can be primary or secondary. Primary glandular cheilitis develops against the background of health, secondary – against the background of any pathology, most often from the oral cavity. The disease mainly affects older people – 40 years and above. Men suffer about 2 times more often than women.

If glandular cheilitis is of a primary nature, then its symptoms are very characteristic, and it is almost impossible to confuse them with any other disease. In the place where the mucous membrane passes into the red border of the lips, and sometimes on the red border, when examining, you can see the holes of the excretory ducts of pathologically located salivary glands, which are also significantly expanded. Outwardly, they look like small dots of red color, which are located in the indicated places. When observing for some time, you can notice that saliva in the form of small droplets is constantly released from these holes. If you dry your lips with a wooden spatula, after about half a minute you can see new portions of saliva secreted. It covers the red border of the patient’s lips in the form of dew. Such peculiar lesions do not occur in any other disease.

Symptoms of Glandular Cheilitis

The mechanism of further pathological changes is as follows. From the mouth of the salivary glands, saliva is constantly released, which moistens the lips. Gradually, it evaporates from its surface. Therefore, over time, the red border dries and peeling appears on it. With a long course of the disease, cracks and defects appear on the lips. Subsequently, tumors may appear in their places, which are essentially the precursors of lip cancer.

Secondary glandular cheilitis occurs due to any chronic focus of inflammation in the oral cavity or in the region of the red border of the lips. Diseases such as lichen planus, systemic lupus erythematosus, etc. can lead to this. A common explanation for secondary glandular cheilitis is that in the presence of an inflammatory process, the salivary glands experience constant irritation, as a result of which a very large amount of saliva begins to excrete.

Characteristic red dots appear on the red border, which are the outer widened openings of the salivary glands, which the patient had not had before. Of these, saliva is constantly released in the form of droplets, the further mechanism of pathological changes is considered in sufficient detail above, when describing the primary form of the disease.

Treatment of Glandular Cheilitis

Drug therapy in this case is completely useless, since the inflammatory process will always be supported, while saliva is released. Mostly diathermocoagulation is used – cauterization by an electric current – of a pathologically located gland. A very thin hair electrode is used for this. With large sizes of glands and with their large quantities, the only method of treatment is to excise them surgically.


With proper and timely treatment, the prognosis is always favorable.

Prevention of Glandular Cheilitis

Prevention applies only to secondary forms of the disease. It is necessary to promptly and completely eliminate all chronic foci of inflammation in the oral cavity, to seriously engage in the treatment of lichen planus and lupus erythematosus, if any. Rehabilitation measures are not required.