I have a friend, and reader of my site, that contacted me on Facebook to tell me about a skin disorder that he has and also one that his mother had when she was living.  I love when people give me suggestions to write about something, particularly when I have never heard of the disorder!  In fact, I wish I had more comments, suggestions and subscribers to my site so that they could receive updates and daily posts that I share via email.  The site is meant to be helpful to friends, colleagues, students, moms, patients AND the general public, so please let me know things that you want to hear about.  That being said, have you heard of lichen planus?  If not, you are not alone! 

          Lichen planus is an uncommon inflammatory disease that affects the skin and the mucous membranes.  It appears as a rash or bumps on the skin.  It is neither infectious nor contagious, and there is no evidence that it is related to any form of skin cancer.  This is not a hereditary disease, though some members of the same family can get it.  Lichen planus can appear anywhere on the body, but is most often found on the inside or tender part of the wrists and ankles.  Sometimes it will appear on the lower back, neck and genital area.  In more rare instances, it will appear on the tongue, on the gums, in the hair and on the fingernails.  Lichen planus produces bumps that are relatively flat and red or reddish-purple in color, except when it appears on the shins.  In these instances, it usually appears as a thick patch rather than the typical small bumps.  Lichen planus in the mouth shows up as white lines with dots on the cheeks.  Although lichen planus can be unsightly, it rarely poses a medical problem and usually causes minimal symptoms; severe itching is what causes the most discomfort.

          Lichen planus affects about one percent of adults; both men and women are affected equally.  An initial attack may last for weeks to months, and about 20 percent of sufferers can expect this skin disease to come and go for years.  In most cases, however, lichen planus will go away within a couple of years.  When lichen planus heals, it often leaves a dark brown discoloration of the skin.  Sometimes the skin will return to its original color after a period of time.  The overall cause of lichen planus is unknown. However, it has been found in what appears to be an allergic reaction to some medications, dyes, heart disease and high blood pressure.  Symptoms are increased with emotional stress, possibly because of changes in the immune system during stress.  It may also be associated with other disorders, most notably hepatitis C.  It does not appear to be related to nutrition.  However, spicy foods, citrus juices, tomato products, caffeinated drinks and crispy foods seem to aggravate the disease and slow healing. 

          Lichen planus is an obstinate skin disorder has baffled not only the patients but also the practitioners equally.  The cases of lichen planus have been observed all over the world, irrespective of the race, skin color and culture.  The medical field today finds little help for this chronic disease.  Although there is no known cure for lichen planus, there is treatment to address the inflammation and itching and also to lighten the color of the bumps themselves.  Most doctors will recommend or prescribe one or a combination of antihistamines, topical corticosteroids, topical retinoic acid cream, dressings to protect the skin from scratching and ultraviolet light therapy.  With the exception of chronic mouth ulcers that could develop into oral cancer, lichen planus will usually subside on its own.  If symptoms persist or the skin lesions become especially bothersome, medical attention should be considered.


  1. Hi, Yes I have been told that I probably have Linchen planus in the mouth and vulva area. It is a pain to live with in the mouth and I hope someone investigates why we get it because it lasts so long and it is so irritating. It is definitely made worse with wine, citrus foods and spices. It keeps flaring up and going down. If you come across anyone with any idea how to get rid of it let me know. thanks

  2. I know someone with lichen planus. They had it 20 years ago and had loss of hair, so had to take steroids to relieve those symptons. For 20 years, she has been sympton free; however, during last couple years she developed sores in mouth that eventually became cancerous. She had to have oral surgery to remove the growths that had become cancerous. The specialist said it was from lichen planus. I urge anyone that has sores or mouth lichen planus to keep close tabs on it as it can lead to cancer. If taken care of early enough, could probably avoid the drastic surgery she is about to undertake. Thankful that she has a doctor to take care of it now. But, it would have been nice as she went from dentist to dentist to dermatologist who missed this diagnosis. Finally, found an ENT that diagnosed and now undergoing two surgeries and radiation. She is getting ready to undergo her third surgery. The doctor she has not recommends trying to remove all cancers and use radiation as a last resort. Since, now she has already had radiation and can’t have it again.

  3. My case LP was caused by putting heavy metals in my body at the Dentist office! Pissed me off that they put that crap in your body so cheaply yet wanted thousands to take it out. I opted to have them pulled and a bridge made because you receive the highest doses of the heavy metals when the amalgam or mercury is removed. Dentist or Doctors did not want to admit that the heavy medals were the cause because both Dentist and Doctors make so much money off it. They say “they dont know how it is caused and there is no cure” Total BS. Our FDA really protects us from harm. BS. They protected the profits of the people who supply and put in the heavy metals. Get the teeth pulled and you will be cured! It only to a couple of months before all my symptoms were gone. I investigated thoroughly the timeline of when my symptoms first appeared and when I went to the dentist and had the poisons put in teeth. Your body is fighting the crap in your teeth.

  4. Have you ever noticed the amount of protection that the dentist wear when handling the crap they want to put in your teeth. Like it is radioactive. And they put that crap in you. I had to find out the hard way that chewing gum is horrible for releasing trace amounts into your body. What do think the industry is gonna say. “Yes this stuff causes a A.I. disease” Hell no they are gonna protect themselves from liability! They absolutely know. That is why the dental industry had been quietly replacing what they put in the fillings.
    It was they only thing was different in my life- the fillings. And yet they would say “Oh we dont know where it comes from” BS THEN THEY WANT YOU TO USE MORE TOXIC SUBSTANCES TO COVER UP THE SYMPTOMS FROM THE FIRST TOXIC SUBSTANCES!

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