Lichen Planus – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

March 27 01:12 2019 Print This Article

Lichen planus is a disorder of the skin and mucous membranes resulting in inflammation, itching, and distinctive skin lesions. It usually affects middle-aged adults. Lichen planus is usually found on the inner wrists, forearms and ankles but it can appear on any area of the skin, including the scalp, nails and the inside of the mouth. When lichen planus develops on the scalp, hair loss may occur. When lichen planus develops on the nails, the nails will become brittle and split. Lichen is a type of plant that lives on rocks, and its surface is made up of small groups of bumps that may look a bit like those seen in lichen planus ‘Planus’ means ‘flat’, and tells us that the small itchy bumps that make up the rash of lichen planus have shiny flat tops. The cause of lichen planus is not known, but it may be a reaction by the immune system to a variety of drugs (especially gold, bismuth, arsenic, quinine, quinidine, and quinacrine ), chemicals and infectious organisms.

Lichen planus, a recurring itchy disease, starts as a rash of small, discrete red or purple bumps that then combine and become rough, scaly patches. Lichen planus can also form in the oral cavity and causes problems in eating. This is a disease without any cure and takes about 18 months to clear. The small bumps that form are slightly flat on the top with a white streak. Lichen planus can form on scalp. It can also form on nails damaging them forever. Lichen planus can occur at any age, although it rarely affects children. Women are affected twice as often as men are.

The condition appears to be related to lichen planus that occurs on the skin. Many people with oral lichen planus also develop lichen planus on the skin or other mucous membranes. Lichen planus isn’t an infectious disease and isn’t contagious. But people with persistent mouth sores (lesions) are at increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma a form of skin cancer. In these cases, a doctor may advise regular examinations to monitor any changes in the mouth. It’s also important to stop any tobacco use because tobacco raises the risk of squamous cell carcinoma.

Causes of Lichen Planus

Find common causes and risk factors of Lichen Planus:

  • The disorder has been known to develop after exposure to potential allergens such as:medications, dyes, metals and other chemical substances.
  • At times because of a virus called Hepatitis C.
  • Symptoms increase with emotional stress, possibly because of changes in immune system during stress. Stress is not a causative agent, but a worsening factor.

Signs and Symptoms of Lichen Planus

Sign and symptoms may include the following:

  • Hair loss
  • Possibility of developing blisters.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Mild to severe itching at the infected spot.
  • Painful sores in the mouth and genitals.

Treatment for Lichen Planus

Treatment may include:

  • Topical or oral steroids prescribed to reduce inflammation and itching.
  • Topical Vitamin A creams and other ointments to reduce itching and inflammation and aid healing.
  • Ultraviolet light therapy may be beneficial in some cases.
  • Antihistamines to reduce discomfort.
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