LICHEN PLANUS

Lichen planus is a chronic inflammatory skin condition affecting the skin and mucosal surfaces. On the skin, lichen planus usually appears as purplish, itchy, flat bumps that develop over several weeks. In the mouth, vagina and other areas covered by a mucous membrane, lichen planus forms lacy white patches, sometimes with painful sores.

Symptoms of lichen planus depend on the part or parts of the affected body. Common symptoms include:

Skin: The most common symptoms are shiny red or purple bumps. These bumps are firm and may itch a little or a lot; you may have just a few or many of them. Fine white lines or scales may accompany the bumps. They can occur anywhere but are most common on your wrists, arms, back, and ankles. Thick scaly patches may appear on your shins and ankles. Sometimes, bumps on your skin may appear in an area where your skin has been scratched or burned. Dark skin patches may replace skin bumps that fade. These patches usually fade away after many months.

Mouth: Lichen planus inside your mouth looks like lacy patches of tiny white dots. These patches may occur on the inside of your cheeks or on your tongue. They may not cause any other symptoms; in severe cases, redness and sores develop.

Nails: Lichen planus may appear on a few, or all, of your fingernails and toenails. Thinning, ridges, splitting, and nail loss are signs of the condition.

Scalp: Redness, irritation, and tiny bumps can form on your scalp. In some cases, hair may start to thin and patches of hair loss may occur.

Genitals: Lichen planus in your genitals can cause bright red, painful areas.

A dermatologist often can tell whether you have lichen planus by looking at your skin, nails, and mouth. To make sure that you have lichen planus, a dermatologist may remove a bit of skin. This skin will be examined under a microscope to make sure. Your dermatologist may call this a biopsy.

Frequently Asked Questions

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