How to Say It: LIE-ken PLAN-us
Lichen planus is a long term skin condition. It can lead to swelling and irritation of the skin, scalp, and fingernails. It can also affect the inside of the mouth and genitals. Treatment can help manage discomfort.
Section of Skin with Lichen Planus
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The exact cause of lichen planus unknown. It may be due to the immune system attacking the skin. It may also be due to genes.
Lichen planus is more common in those aged 30 to 60 years.
Other things that may raise the risk are:
Symptoms may come and go for months to a few years. Symptoms of lichen planus may be:
The doctor will ask about symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. Lichen planus is often diagnosed by how it looks. A skin doctor may need to look at the skin.
If the diagnosis is unclear, other tests may be done, such as:
Treatment depends on how severe the symptoms are. It also depends on what part of the body is affected. The goal is to ease discomfort and inflammation.
Medicines may include:
If symptoms are severe, medicines may be given to lower the immune system.
Ultraviolet light therapy may help if there are many skin patches. It is used with pills that make it more effective.
There are no current guidelines to prevent lichen planus.
American Academy of Dermatology
Canadian Dermatology Association
Kusari A, Ahluwalia J. Lichen planus. N Engl J Med. 2018;379(6):567.
Lichen planus. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/lichen-planus-overview. Accessed August 2, 2021.
Lichen planus. American Academy of Family Physicians website. Available at: https://familydoctor.org/condition/lichen-planus/. Accessed August 2, 2021.
Lichen planus. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/lichen-planus. Accessed August 2, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 8/2/2021