Lichen planus is a condition that forms a very itchy rash on the skin or in the mouth.
The exact cause of lichen planus is unknown. It may be related to an allergic or immune reaction.
Risks for the condition include:
Lichen planus mostly affects middle-aged adults. It is less common in children.
Mouth sores are one symptom of lichen planus. They:
Skin sores are another symptom of lichen planus. They:
Other symptoms of lichen planus are:
Your health care provider may make the diagnosis based on the appearance of your skin or mouth lesions.
A skin lesion biopsy or biopsy of a mouth lesion can confirm the diagnosis.
The goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms and speed healing. If your symptoms are mild, you may not need treatment.
Treatments may include:
Lichen planus is usually not harmful. Most often, it gets better with treatment. The condition often clears up within 18 months, but may come and go for years.
If lichen planus is caused by a medicine you are taking, the rash should go away once you stop the medicine.
Mouth ulcers that are present for a long time may develop into oral cancer.
Contact your provider if:
James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM. Lichen planus and related conditions. In: James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 12.
Patterson JW. An approach to the interpretation of skin biopsies. In: Patterson JW, ed. Weedon's Skin Pathology. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 2.BACK TO TOP
Review Date: 11/18/2022
Reviewed By: Elika Hoss, MD, Assistant Professor of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ. Also reviewed by David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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