Lichen planus is a disorder that causes changes to the skin, hair, nails, and the mouth. Although having an unsightly appearance, it’s actually a normal skin rash and is not at all contagious. It’s also not a type of skin cancer so having this condition should not be a cause for serious concern.
Most cases of lichen planus are diagnosed among middle-aged men and women, and very rarely occur in children. This skin disease can go away on its own within a few months or sometimes up to a few years, but cases of recurrence are possible in about 20% of patients. In some people, lichen planus is chronic and can come and go for several years.
While the exact cause of lichen planus isn’t clear, there are studies that suggest that it could be an autoimmune disease. It can occur when the body’s immune system attacks the healthy skin cells, tissues, or mucous membrane in the mouth. It’s unknown what causes this response but there are certain factors that appear to trigger it such as:
You can’t get lichen planus from other people but you can develop it when you are taking medications that may trigger an abnormal immune system response. Your risk for this condition also increases if you’re middle-aged or have a family history of any disorder that affects your immunity. Experiencing chronic stress can also contribute to an increased risk for this skin disease.
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This disease can be further categorized according to the location where its symptoms commonly show up. Most of the time, lichen planus occurs on the skin’s surface (cutaneous lichen planus) or inside the mouth (oral lichen planus).
This form of lichen planus causes uncomfortable swelling, irritation, and reddish to purplish bumps on the skin. These bumps may form anywhere on the body including the wrists, lower back, forearms, and ankles. It may also cause additional symptoms such as itching, scaly patches, and small crusty blisters. From time to time, you may also notice the appearance of new bumps as the old ones disappear.
Lichen planus of the skin may also develop on the toenails and fingernails. It could affect a single nail or all the nails on the foot or hand. In these instances, you may notice visible damage such as thinning of nails or the appearance of ridges. It can also stop the growth of the nails and result in nail loss.
Lesions may also grow in the female and male genital regions. This type of lichen planus can cause a painful sensation during sexual activity. Some skin lesions like lichen planopilaris may also form on the scalp and lead to temporary hair loss.
This is an inflammatory condition that affects the mucous membrane inside the mouth. Oral lichenoid lesions can also appear inside the cheeks, tongue, gums, and lips. The symptoms of oral lichen planus may cause more discomfort than lichen planus of the skin.
If you have persistent skin bumps or open sores inside the mouth, it’s important to see a healthcare provider or dermatologist to receive proper diagnosis and treatment. Normally, a doctor can confirm your condition through a visual examination. They will look at the shape, size, and color of the lichen planus lesions.
To rule out other conditions, a skin biopsy and blood test may be ordered. An allergy test may also be done to see if your skin lesions are from an allergic reaction. A specialist may also take samples of the cells inside your mouth and examine it to eliminate possible infections.
The goal of lichen planus treatment is to minimize the symptoms and speed up the healing of the lesions. Your doctor will create a treatment plan based on the location of the lesions, the severity of symptoms, and your medical history. Some of the treatment options that may be recommended are:
At Dermatology & Skin Health, our excellent dermatology services are guaranteed to be safe and effective, performed by the top doctors in their respective fields. Treat your skin problems by contacting us today.
Although lichen planus isn’t a particularly harmful disease, it may affect your overall physical and emotional health. You may experience more stress, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, irritability, and muscle aches and pain when you have untreated lichen planus. Lesions inside the mouth may also increase your risk of having oral cancer.
With the right treatment, mild cases of lichen planus can heal within at least 2 years. As the skin lesion heals, it leaves dark brown spots as a result of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. These spots can go away on their own but you can get treatments like laser therapy and chemical peels to lighten them.
Talk with our lichen planus specialist today and get the best treatment to eliminate the uncomfortable skin lesions and the painful sores on your mouth. Our team of experts at Dermatology and Skin Health can help provide accurate diagnoses and give advice on how you can improve your overall skin problem. Contact us today and book a consultation with us.
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