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Lichen Planus

What is Lichen Planus?

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Lichen planus (LP) is a disease of the skin and mucous membranes that resembles lichen. It is thought to be the result of an autoimmune process with an unknown initial trigger. There is no cure, but many different medications and procedures have been used to control only the symptoms.

The overall prevalence of lichen planus in the general population is about 0.1 – 4%. It generally occurs more commonly in females, in a ratio of 3:2, and most cases are diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60, but it can occur at any age

Symptoms of Lichen Planus

Although lichen planus can present with a variety of lesions, the most common presentation is as a well-defined area of purple-coloured, itchy, flat-topped papules with interspersed lacy white lines (Wickham’s striae). This description is known as the characteristic “6 P’s” of lichen planus:¬†

planar (flat-topped),purple,polygonal, pruritic, papules, and plaques.

Causes of Lichen Planus

  • The cause of lichen planus is unknown, but it is not contagious and does not involve any known pathogen.
  • It is thought to be a T cell-mediated autoimmune reaction (where the body’s immune system targets its own tissues
  • This autoimmune, T-cell-mediated process is thought to be in response to some antigenic change in the oral mucosa, but a specific antigen has not been identified.
  • Drug reactions, with the most common inducers including gold salts, beta-blockers, antimalarials, thiazide diuretics, furosemide, spironolactone, Metformin, and penicillamine. It has been suggested that lichen planus may respond to stress, where lesions may present during times of stress
  • Adolecent age
  • Excessive heat exposure
  • Improper face care - lack of washing and cleanliness
  • Excess sweating
  • No Exercise
  • High carbohydrate and fatty diet
  • Stress
  • Genetics

Risk of Lichen Planus

Lichen planus is a skin condition that can affect various parts of the body, including the skin, mouth, nails, and genital area. While the condition is not life-threatening, it can be chronic and significantly impact a person’s quality of life.

Here are some of the risks associated with lichen planus:

  1. Chronic Itch: Lichen planus can cause intense itching that can be chronic, leading to skin damage due to constant scratching. Itching can also lead to sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression.

  2. Scarring: The constant scratching of the affected areas can lead to scarring, which can be permanent and disfiguring.

  3. Painful Sores: Lichen planus can cause painful sores in the mouth and genital area, making it difficult to eat and perform daily activities.

  4. Reduced Quality of Life: Lichen planus can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, affecting their ability to work, eat, and engage in daily activities. The condition can also cause emotional distress, leading to anxiety and depression.

  5. Increased Risk of Oral Cancer: In some cases, lichen planus in the mouth may increase the risk of developing oral cancer. Regular check-ups with a dentist or oral specialist are essential to monitor the condition.

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