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.
Itching, flat-topped purplish bumps or scaly patches—especially on the palm side of the wrists, the top of the foot and shins, the trunk, or the genitals
Abnormal appearance to the nails
Milky-white, spider web-like patches in the mouth or vagina, with or without burning or discomfort
You will be asked about your symptoms ad past health. The doctor will also need to know any medicines you are taking. A physical exam will be done. Lichen planus usually can be diagnosed by the appearance. You may be referred to a skin specialist.
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:
Antihistamines creams or lotions or pills
Other anti-itching lotions, such as menthol or eucalyptus oil
Soothing oatmeal baths
Steroids creams may be used to help decrease inflammation. Steroids may also be injected by a needle directly into the area. Steroid pills are only used in severe cases.
Retinoids or immunomodulating medicine may be useful. They are more often used for lesions in the mouth or vagina.
Ultraviolet light therapy may help if lesions are widespread. It is combined with pills that make it more effective.
There are no current guidelines to prevent lichen planus. Avoid any medications that may have triggered it in the past.
EBSCO Information Services is fully accredited by URAC. URAC is an independent, nonprofit health care accrediting organization dedicated to promoting health care quality through accreditation, certification and commendation.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
To send comments or feedback to our Editorial Team regarding the content please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our Health Library Support team will respond to your email request within 2 business days.