Lichen planus

Definition

Lichen planus is a condition that forms an itchy rash on the skin or in the mouth.

Causes

The exact cause of lichen planus is unknown. It may be related to an allergic or immune reaction.

Risks for the condition include:

Lichen planus mostly affects middle-aged adults. It is less common in children.

Symptoms

Mouth sores are one symptom of lichen planus. They:

Skin sores are another symptom of lichen planus. They:

Other symptoms of lichen planus are:

Exams and Tests

Your health care provider may make the diagnosis based on the appearance of your skin or mouth lesions.

A skin lesion biopsy or biopsy of a mouth lesion can confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment

The goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms and speed healing. If your symptoms are mild, you may not need treatment.

Treatments may include:

Outlook (Prognosis)

Lichen planus is usually not harmful. Most often it gets better with treatment. The condition often clears up within 18 months, but may come and go for years.

If lichen planus is caused by a medicine you are taking, the rash should go away once you stop the medicine.

Possible Complications

Mouth ulcers that are present for a long time may develop into oral cancer.

When to Contact a Medical Professional

Call your provider if:


Review Date: 10/24/2016
Reviewed By: David L. Swanson, MD, Vice Chair of Medical Dermatology, Associate Professor of Dermatology, Mayo Medical School, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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