Lichen planus is an unusual skin condition affecting the skin and mucous membranes. The condition occurs when a trigger stimulates the immune system to begin targeting specific skin cells. Fortunately, around 85% of those who develop lichen planus will see it disappear within 18 months.
Lichen planus can appear on the skin in a few different ways, including:
- Classic form – Flat-topped, shiny papules that range in size from quite small to large. These are an angry purple colour and can be criss-crossed with very fine white lines known as ‘Wickham’s striae’.
- Oral form – Affects around 50% of those with the condition. It appears on the tongue and cheeks as white streaks, ulcers and redness. The gums may even peel during an outbreak of this condition.
- Genital form – Appears in the same way as the oral form but is located in the genital area. The condition tends to be more severe in females than males. It can be very painful and cause significant scarring in this area.
- Planopilaris – This subtype can cause a scarring alopecia (hair loss)
Treatment of Lichen Planus
It is important to have a medical specialist manage this condition. A full skin and mucous membrane examination is required. This is to determine the most appropriate treatment. Currently most dermatologists will consider using:
- Strong topical steroids – These are potent or ultra-potent prescription corticosteroid creams. They are applied to the lesions and used to reduce the inflammation.
- Injections – A localised steroid injection may be required for thicker lesions.
- Systemic steroids – These are used over the course of a few weeks to attempt to settle the eruption in its early stages.
- Immunosupressive agents including cyclosporin
- Acitretin, isotretinoin
Lichen planus is an uncommon condition. Dermatologists are highly experienced in managing this chronic condition. If you have any questions or concerns about your skin, contact our clinic for an appointment. Contact us today.