Disease: Lichen planus


    Lichen planus (LIE-kun PLAY-nus) is an inflammatory condition that can affect the skin, hair, nails and mucous membranes. On the skin, lichen planus usually appears as purplish, often itchy, flat-topped bumps, developing over several weeks. In the mouth, vagina and other areas covered by a mucous membrane, lichen planus forms lacy white patches, sometimes with painful sores.

    Most people can manage typical, mild cases of lichen planus at home, without medical care. If the condition causes pain or significant itching, you may need prescription drugs.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    The signs and symptoms of lichen planus vary depending on the areas affected. Typical signs and symptoms include:

    • Purplish, flat-topped bumps, most often on the inner forearm, wrist or ankle, but sometimes on the external genitals
    • Itching
    • Blisters that may break to form scabs or crusts
    • Lacy white patches in the mouth — inside the cheeks or on the gums, lips or tongue
    • Painful oral or vaginal ulcers
    • Hair loss and scalp discoloration
    • Nail damage or loss

    When to see a doctor

    See your doctor if tiny bumps or a rash-like condition appears on your skin for no apparent reason, such as a known allergic reaction or contact with poison ivy. Also see your doctor if you experience any signs or symptoms associated with lichen planus of the mouth, genitals, scalp or nails.

    It's best to get a prompt and accurate diagnosis because a number of skin and mucosal conditions can cause lesions and discomfort.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Lichen planus occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks cells of the skin or mucous membranes. No one knows the exact cause of this abnormal immune response. The condition isn't contagious.

    In some people, certain factors, such as those below, may trigger lichen planus.

    • Hepatitis C infection
    • Flu vaccine
    • Certain pigments, chemicals and metals
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve, others)
    • Certain medications for heart disease, high blood pressure or arthritis

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Your doctor makes a diagnosis of lichen planus based on your symptoms, your medical history, a physical examination and, if necessary, the results of lab tests. These tests may include:

    • Biopsy. Your doctor removes a small piece of affected tissue for examination under a microscope. The tissue is analyzed to determine whether it has the cell patterns characteristic of lichen planus.
    • Hepatitis C test. You may have your blood drawn to test for hepatitis C, which is a possible trigger for lichen planus.
    • Allergy tests. Your doctor may refer you to an allergy specialist (allergist) or dermatologist for skin patch testing to identify agents to which you may be allergic and that may act as triggers for your condition.

    Other tests may be needed if your doctor suspects you have any of the several variations of lichen planus, such as the type that affects the esophagus, genitals, ears or mouth.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com


    Lichen planus can be difficult to manage on the vulva and in the vagina, causing severe pain and sometimes leaving scars. Sexual dysfunction can become a long-term complication.

    There is some evidence that lichen planus may increase your risk of a skin cancer known as squamous cell carcinoma, though the risk is small. Your doctor may recommend routine screening for evidence of cancerous cells in tissues affected by lichen planus.

    For many people the affected skin might stay slightly darker even after the rash clears up.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Alternative medicine

    A number of small studies indicate the possible benefit of vitamins A and B in treating lichen planus of the skin, but further research is needed.

    A couple of small clinical trials have suggested the benefit of aloe vera gel for treating lichen planus of the mouth and vulva.

    Talk with your doctor before trying an alternative treatment for lichen planus. Some alternative medicines or vitamin supplements result in serious adverse reactions when combined with prescription medicines.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Lifestyle and home remedies

    Self-care measures can help reduce the itching and discomfort caused by lichen planus. These include:

    • Tub soaks with colloidal oatmeal (Aveeno, others), followed by moisturizing lotion
    • Cool compresses
    • Over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or ointment, containing at least 1 percent hydrocortisone (if you're not using a prescription topical corticosteroid)
    • Not scratching

    For oral lichen planus, good oral hygiene and regular dentist visits are important. You can help reduce the pain of mouth sores by avoiding:

    • Smoking
    • Drinking alcohol
    • Consuming spicy or acidic food and drink

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

    Risk factors

    Anyone can develop lichen planus. But the condition most often affects middle-aged adults.

    Source: http://www.mayoclinic.com

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