Lichen planus is a chronic skin condition. It causes itchy, flat, scaly patches on the wrists, legs, trunk, or genitals. It can also affect the inside of the mouth and vagina where it resembles a white spider web. The scalp and fingernails can also be affected. Lichen planus may continue on and off for months or years.
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Not much is known about the cause. It may be due to genetic factors, certain medications, or diseases.
The condition is more common in those aged 30-60 years.
Lichen planus is more likely to occur in the presence of:
Lichen planus may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms, medications, and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Lichen planus usually can be diagnosed by the appearance of the rash. You may be referred to a dermatologist.
If the diagnosis is unclear, a skin biopsy may be done.
Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Scratching makes this condition worse. This symptom can be eased with:
Topical steroids may be used to help decrease inflammation. Steroids may also be injected by a needle directly into a lesion. Oral or IV steroids are only used in severe cases.
There are no current guidelines to prevent lichen planus. Avoid any medications that may have triggered it in the past.
Canadian Dermatology Association
Lichen planus. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/i---l/lichen-planus. Accessed December 15, 2017.
Lichen planus. American Osteopathic College of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aocd.org/?page=LichenPlanus. Accessed December 15, 2017.
Lichen planus. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116470/Lichen-planus. Updated April 7, 2016. Accessed December 15, 2017.
Lichen planus. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/dermatologic-disorders/psoriasis-and-scaling-diseases/lichen-planus. Updated January 2017. Accessed December 15, 2017.
Last reviewed December 2017 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Michael Woods, MD,FAAP Last Updated: 12/20/2014