Lichen planus is a skin disorder of unknown origin. It can also affect the mucous membranes, which are tissues covering tubes in the body, present especially in the mouth, and more rarely the genitals. Lichen planus has a chronic course, and remains present in the affected part of the body for many months. There are different types of lichen planus, with minor variations, a matter for specialists.
Lichen planus usually manifests itself through:
- the appearance of skin lesions, papules, small elevations on the skin or mucous membranes whose location may vary;
- These papules may be red, brown, or sometimes slightly purple;
- Typically, the affected areas are the wrists, forearms, elbows, back, knees;
- itchy skin lesions called pruritus;
- mucous membranes, including those in the mouth, are rarely affected;
- when they affect the external genitalia, they are localized on the head of the penis in men, the vulva in women;
- lesions on the mucous membranes are not itchy.
The diagnosis is often made upon clinical consultation, but a dermatological consultation may be necessary. Sometimes, a doctor will take a biopsy, a sample of the lesions to be studied and to help confirm the diagnosis. The risk of progression to cancer is increased when the lichen occurs in the genital region.
The treatment will be based on the local application of corticosteroids in the form of creams or ointments, which can help reduce the duration of the disease. An antihistamine, used to reduce the discomfort caused by itching, can accompany corticosteroids. Therapy by the use of light also has positive effects.