Lichen planus (LP) is a relatively common condition characterised by an inflamed, extremely itchy rash that can affect many different parts of the body. The most commonly affected sites include the wrists, ankles and lower back. Other areas such as the mouth, genitalia, nails and scalp are also affected. It is usually seen in adults over the age of 40 and is not known to be a hereditary condition. It is not infectious, and both men and women are equally susceptible.
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WHAT CAUSES LICHEN PLANUS?
Unfortunately, it is still not known what causes this disease to occur, though there is some evidence to suggest that it could be caused by a malfunction in the body’s immune system. Lichen Planus is not contagious. There has been research showing that this condition can be triggered by the flu vaccine, hepatitis C infection and certain pigments, chemicals and metals. Some drugs including pain relivers and medication for heart disease, high blood pressure and arthritis can also cause a temporary LP-like rash to develop which resolves slowly once the offending medication is stopped.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS/TYPES OF LICHEN PLANUS?
There are many different forms of lichen planus which differ in appearance and the parts of the body they affect. Typically, LP appears as multiple purple/red shiny, flat-topped bumps that form on the skin in a symmetrical distribution across the body. As the individual bumps heal they change colour from red to purple, then to grey or brown. Sometimes there is scale on the surface of the bumps. Lichen Planus can form in line-shaped (linear) or ringlet-shaped (annular) areas and sometimes appears in scars. Common symptoms you may experience depending on where your condition affects you are:
- Blisters which then scab over
- Painful sores in the mouth
- Purple flat bumps
- Hair Loss
- Nail damage
HOW CAN LICHEN PLANUS BE TREATED?
Unfortunately, no treatment has been found to cure LP but thankfully in most patients it will resolve by itself within 1-2 years. However, about 20% of patients experience a recurrence, which can be many years after the initial episode. The aim of treatment is therefore to control symptoms.
Creams and ointments can be used to control the rash and alleviate the need to itch the rash and in more severe cases steroid tables can be used.
Phototherapy, an LED light therapy, can be effective treatment for lichen planus, exposing the skin to ultraviolet light and producing a healing response.
Treatments can include:
Emollients to prevent skin dryness
Steroid creams or tablets to decrease the inflammation
Ultraviolet light treatment (phototherapy)
Drugs to calm the body’s immune system
Drugs to slow down the rate of turnover of skin cells
WHY TREAT YOUR LICHEN PLANUS AT STRATUM DERMATOLOGY CLINICS?
Lichen Planus is a common skin condition and we understand the impact that severe rashes can have on daily life.
We work with leading experts in the field of dermatology to ensure you have the best experience and treatment. Stratum Dermatology Clinics are regulated by the Care Quality Commission, are part of the British Association of Dermatologists and are top rated by patients on Doctify so you can assure safe and effective acne treatment with us.
HEAR FROM ONE OF OUR RECENT PATIENTS
Really helpful and pleasant staff, made to feel welcome and relaxed. Seen without delay and treatment explained in a clear, concise manner.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The itching is the key symptom that affects people with Lichen Planus. The appearance of the rash can be distressing for some, especially if it occurs in intimate areas such as the genitalia. Furthermore, as the skin lesions heal, darkly pigmented blemishes may appear in their place which can take months or even years to resolve, particularly in those with a darker skin tone. If LP occurs on the scalp it can lead to patchy hair loss which may be permanent. Pitting, ridging or complete detachment of the nails eroded by LP can also look unsightly.
For further information please visit the NHS website and read the British Association of Dermatology patient advice leaflet.
- Avoid using soaps or body washes and just wash using warm water
- Wash your hair over a sink or bath so the shampoo doesn’t come into contact with your skin
- Use an emollient on the rash
- Avoid wearing tight clothes that rub against the skin
- If in the mouth, brush your teeth carefully and keep your gums healthy and avoid salty, spicy and acidic foods as well as alcohol
No, lichen planus is not contagious. It occurs when the immune system attacks cells of the skin.
As this condition heals, it often leaves a dark brown discolouration of the skin. These will eventually fade over time.
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