Lichen planus is a condition that can affect different parts of the body, including the inside of the mouth, or in the hair, nails or mucous membranes, where it can cause swelling and irritation.
Anyone can develop lichen planus, but it most often affects adults over 30, and the oral form most frequently affects women between 35-45.
Lichen planus on the skin usually resolves on its own within 6-9 months, but can last for many years, and the rash and itching characteristic of the condition may require patients to use creams and ointments. If the condition doesn’t respond to over the counter treatments, it may be necessary to obtain prescription strength treatment from a GP.
Lichen planus in the mouth can last for several years, or even for life. The GP can prescribe mouthwashes and sprays to help relieve common symptoms such as burning or sore gums.
Lichen planus is not contagious, and once it resolves, it does not usually recur.
While lichen planus can affect the mucous membranes and skin around the genitals, it is not a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but it is sometimes erroneously conflated with one, which can be upsetting or embarrassing for patients.
While lichen planus itself isn’t generally a serious health risk, as a result of the chronic and often sore, condition, many patients find that it negatively impacts their quality of life, their abilities to perform daily tasks, and their self-confidence.
Symptoms of Lichen Planus
Depending on where lichen planus presents on the body, the symptoms might be different, and you may have it in one place and not another.
On the skin, lichen planus usually appears as purplish, itchy, flat bumps that develop over several weeks. In the mouth, vagina or other areas covered by a mucous membrane, lichen planus forms lacy white patches, sometimes accompanied by painful sores.
While it’s best to visit the GP to treat the symptoms of lichen planus, and they may advise more specific at-home care routines to manage the bout, there are some generally accepted ways of treating the condition, wherever it might appear on the body, for example;
While all types of eczema can cause distress, some may present more serious issues than others if left untreated, or if treated improperly.
Scratching or otherwise interfering with eczema may cause infection or other complications, so it is important to seek medical advice if the condition persists or worsens.
Causes of Lichen Planus
Lichen planus occurs when the immune system attacks the cells of the skin or mucous membranes, but it's not clear why this abnormal immune response occurs.
Lichen planus may be triggered by underlying medical conditions, or by taking certain medications. Some common triggers include;
Treatment of Lichen Planus at Derma
While your GP and your pharmacist can be very helpful in diagnosing and treating cases of lichen planus, we are more than happy to see patients who prefer to consult a private dermatology specialist.
Your appointment will begin with a skin check and medical history, which will allow the dermatologist to diagnose any skin conditions that may be co-occurring.
Together with the dermatologist, you will be able to discuss the latest and most effective treatments and explain all potential side-effects, enabling you to select the best option for you.
It’s likely that lichen planus can be managed using topical treatments available from chemists, but prescription creams or tablets may be helpful to reduce itching; or necessary, if the skin has become infected from scratching.
Whatever your needs, you can rest assured that Derma will provide the very best care for your skin, with access to the latest research and treatments.