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Lichen planus

Lichen planus: Introduction

Lichen planus is a relatively common inflammatory disorder that can affect the skin, mouth, vulva, and the fingernails and toenails. Lichen planus can result in rashes and changes in the skin, the lining of the mouth, vulva, scalp, and fingernails and toenails. Lichen planus is also called LS.

The cause of lichen planus is unknown, but it is not contagious. It is believed that lichen planus is the result of a combination of factors, including stress, hepatitis C infection, genetics, and/or an autoimmune response. In some cases, an allergic reaction to certain medications may result in the development of a lichen planus. Lichen planus occurs most often in people of middle age, especially women.

Symptoms of lichen planus can vary in character and severity between individuals. Typical symptoms of lichen planus include a skin rash that is itchy and skin changes. Oral lichen planus can present with symptoms that are more subtle, but can also include pimples in the mouth and changes in the tissues of the lining of the mouth. Symptoms of lichen planus that affect the nails and scalp include nail and hair loss.

In general, lichen planus is not a serious condition, but complications are possible and include an increased risk of developing oral cancer. In addition, thrush often accompanies oral lichen planus. Symptoms of lichen planus can recur after treatment in some cases. For more details about additional symptoms and complications, refer to symptoms of lichen planus.

Making a diagnosis of lichen planus begins with taking a thorough medical history, including symptoms, and performing physical examination that focuses on the areas that are affected. Diagnostic testing is performed with a biopsy of the affected area. In a biopsy a small sample of the tissue in the affected area is taken and examined under a microscope.

If a person's medical history and exam of the mouth is suspicious for the develoment of oral cancer, a biopsy may also be performed on the tissue in the affected area. The tissue is examined under a microscope for the presence of cancer cells.

It is possible that a diagnosis of lichen planus can be missed or delayed because symptoms may be attributed to a variety of rashes or skin conditions with similar symptoms, such as thrush, chronic cutaneous lupus or eczema. Lichen planus is also often confused with lichen sclerosus. Because of its resemblance to other skin diseases and conditions, a definitive diagnosis and treatment is often made by a skin specialist called a dermatologist. Oral lichen planus may be diagnosed by a dentist. For more information on misdiagnosis, refer to misdiagnosis of lichen planus.

Treatment plans for lichen planus vary depending on the type and severity of the symptoms. There is no cure for lichen planus, but mild cases may not need any treatment and may get better on their own. The treatment for more severe lichen planus involves a multifaceted approach that generally includes medication and other therapies to reduce itching and soothe skin and mouth inflammation. For more information on treatment, refer to treatment of lichen planus. ...more »

Lichen planus: Skin rash. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Lichen planus is available below.

Lichen planus: Symptoms

The symptoms of lichen planus generally appear in middle age, and are most common in women. The types and severity of symptoms of lichen planus vary between individuals. Symptoms can affect the skin, mouth, vulva, fingernails, toenails, and /or hair. Symptoms of lichen planus can also recur after treatment in some cases.

Typical symptoms of lichen planus that affects the ...more symptoms »

Lichen planus: Treatments

The goal of treatment of lichen planus is to relieve the discomfort of rashes and oral lesions and to minimize the risk of developing complications, such as oral cancer.

Mild cases of lichen planus may need no treatment. Treatment of more severe lichen planus that affects the skin includes a topical corticosteroid cream or ointment to reduce ...more treatments »

Lichen planus: Misdiagnosis

A diagnosis of lichen planus may be delayed or missed because some symptoms can be similar to symptom of other conditions. These include thrush, chronic cutaneous lupus, lichen sclerosus, oral cancer, psoriasis, fungal nail infection, leukoplakia, and allergy. ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Lichen planus

Treatments for Lichen planus

Wrongly Diagnosed with Lichen planus?

Lichen planus: Related Patient Stories

Lichen planus: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Lichen planus.

Lichen planus: Complications

Read more about complications of Lichen planus.

Causes of Lichen planus

Read more about causes of Lichen planus.

More information about causes of Lichen planus:

Disease Topics Related To Lichen planus

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Lichen planus:

Misdiagnosis and Lichen planus

Psoriasis often undiagnosed cause of skin symptoms in children: Children who suffer from the skin disorder called psoriasis can often go undiagnosed. The main problem is that psoriasis more »

Lichen planus: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

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Evidence Based Medicine Research for Lichen planus

Medical research articles related to Lichen planus include:

Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Lichen planus: Animations

Research about Lichen planus

Visit our research pages for current research about Lichen planus treatments.

Clinical Trials for Lichen planus

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Lichen planus include:

Statistics for Lichen planus

Lichen planus: Broader Related Topics

Lichen planus Message Boards

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Definitions of Lichen planus:

An inflammatory, pruritic disease of the skin and mucous membranes, which can be either generalized or localized. It is characterized by distinctive purplish, flat-topped papules having a predilection for the trunk and flexor surfaces. The lesions may be discrete or coalesce to form plaques. Histologically, there is a "saw-tooth" pattern of epidermal hyperplasia and vacuolar alteration of the basal layer of the epidermis along with an intense upper dermal inflammatory infiltrate composed predominantly of T-cells. Etiology is unknown. - (Source - Diseases Database)

An eruption of shiny flat-topped purplish (usually itchy) papules on the wrist and forearms and thighs - (Source - WordNet 2.1)


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