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DefinitionLichen planus is a disorder of the skin and mucous membranes resulting in inflammation, itching, and distinctive skin lesions .
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Lichen planus is an uncommon disorder involving a recurrent, itchy, inflammatory rash or lesion on the skin or in the mouth. The exact cause is unknown, but the disorder is likely to be related to an allergic or immune reaction.
The disorder has been known to develop after exposure to potential allergens such as medications, dyes, and other chemical substances. Symptoms are increased with emotional stress, possibly because of changes in immune system during stress.
Chemicals or medications associated with development of lichen planus include gold (used to treat rheumatoid arthritis ), antibiotics, arsenic, iodides, chloroquine, quinacrine, quinidine, antimony, phenothiazines, diuretics such as chlorothiazide, and many others.
Signs and testsYour physician will suspect lichen planus based on the distinctive appearance of the lesions. Your dentist may diagnose oral lichen planus based on the distinctive appearance of mouth lesions . A skin lesion biopsy or biopsy of a mouth lesion can confirm the diagnosis.
The goal of treatment is to reduce your symptoms and speed healing of the skin lesions. If symptoms are mild, no treatment may be needed.
Treatments may include:
Expectations (prognosis)Lichen planus is generally not harmful and may resolve with treatment, but can persist for months to years. Oral lichen planus usually clears within 18 months.
Long-standing mouth ulcers may develop into oral cancer .
Calling your health care providerCall your health care provider if symptoms persist, or if there are changes in the appearance of skin or oral lesions.
Call for an appointment with your health care provider if oral lichen planus persists or worsens despite treatment, or if your dentist recommends adjustment of medications or treatment of conditions that trigger the disorder.
Update Date: 4/15/2003Michael Lehrer, M.D., Department of Dermatology, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT