Lichen planus (LP) may be a disease of the skin and, less often, the scalp, fingernails, toenails, and/or inside the mouth or genitalia (mucous membranes). Lichen planus can resolve on its own without treatment or be chronic, even with aggressive treatment. The cause of the inflammation that leads to lichen planus is unknown.
Who's at risk?
People of all ages, of all races, and of both sexes can have lichen planus. However, it is rarely seen in young children and older adults, most commonly occurring in people aged 30–60.
Although the cause of lichen planus is unknown, some people with the condition also have hepatitis C, an infection of the liver.
People who take certain medications may develop a rash that looks like lichen planus (drug-induced lichen planus). These medications include:
Ø Diabetes medications, including the sulfonylureas
Ø Ibuprofen or naproxen
Ø Antimalarial medications
Signs and Symptoms
The most common locations for lichen planus include:
Ø Inner wrists
Ø Inner ankles
Ø Lower legs
Ø Inside the mouth
Ø Fingernails and toenails
Ø Apply over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream to help relieve itching in mild lichen planus.
Ø If you have lichen planus in the mouth, avoid drinking alcohol and using tobacco products. In severe outbreaks of oral lichen planus, there is a very small chance of developing oral cancer, so you should see your dentist twice a year to check for oral cancer.
Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe
If lichen ruber planus is suspected, your doctor might want to perform a skin biopsy. The procedure involves:
Ø Numbing the skin with an injectable anesthetic.
Ø Sampling a small piece of skin by using a flexible razor blade, a scalpel, or a tiny cookie cutter (called a "punch biopsy"). If a punch biopsy is taken, a stitch (suture) or 2 could also be placed and can got to be removed 6–14 days later.
Ø Having the skin sample examined under the microscope by a specially trained physician (dermatopathologist)
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