Dermoscopic Features of Actinic Cheilitis and Other Common Inflammatory Cheilitis: A Multicentric Retrospective Observational Study by the International Dermoscopy Society

Dermatology. 2022;238(5):870-875. doi: 10.1159/000522602. Epub 2022 Apr 7.


Background: Clinical differentiation between different cheilitis variants may be difficult. Application of mucoscopy, in addition to clinical background, could provide additional diagnostic clues facilitating initial patient management.

Objectives: To determine mucoscopic clues differentiating actinic cheilitis from the main forms of inflammatory cheilitis, including eczematous cheilitis, discoid lupus erythematosus, and lichen planus of the lips.

Methods: This was a retrospective, multicenter study being a part of an ongoing project "Mucoscopy - an upcoming tool for oral mucosal disorders" under the aegis of the International Dermoscopy Society. Cases included in the current study were collected via an online call published on the IDS website ( between January 2019 and December 2020.

Results: Whitish-red background was found in actinic cheilitis as well as in cheilitis due to discoid lupus erythematous and lichen planus. Polymorphous vessels were more likely to be seen in actinic cheilitis compared to other causes of cheilitis. White scales, ulceration, and blood spots predominated in actinic cheilitis and lichen planus, whereas yellowish scales typified eczematous and discoid lupus erythematous cheilitis. Radiating white lines although most common in lichen planus patients were also seen in actinic cheilitis.

Conclusion: Despite differences in the frequency of mucoscopic structures, we have not found pathognomonic features allowing for differentiation between analyzed variants of cheilitis.

Keywords: Actinic cheilitis; Cheilitis; Dermoscopy; Lip; Mucoscopy; Mucous membranes.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Cheilitis* / diagnostic imaging
  • Dermoscopy
  • Humans
  • Lichen Planus* / diagnostic imaging
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Discoid*
  • Mouth Diseases*
  • Retrospective Studies

Supplementary concepts

  • Actinic cheilitis