Lichen planus

Lichen planus
Lichen planus
Classification and external resources

Lichen planus affecting the shins.
ICD-10 L43
ICD-9 697.0
DiseasesDB 7452
eMedicine derm/233 derm/663
MeSH D008010

Lichen planus is a chronic mucocutaneous disease that affects the skin, tongue, and oral mucosa. The disease presents itself in the form of papules,[1] lesions, or rashes. Lichen planus does not involve lichens, the fungus/algae symbionts that often grow on tree trunks; the name refers to the dry and undulating, "lichen-like" appearance of affected skin. It is sometimes associated with certain medications and diseases, but is basically of unknown cause.



Lichen planus may be divided into the following types:[2]:466

  • Configuration
  • Annular lichen planus
  • Linear lichen planus
  • Morphology of lesion
  • Hypertrophic lichen planus
  • Atrophic lichen planus
  • Vesiculobullous lichen planus
  • Ulcerative lichen planus
  • Follicular lichen planus
  • Actinic lichen planus
  • Lichen planus pigmentosus
  • Site of involvement
  • Lichen planus of the palms and soles (Palmoplantar lichen planus)
  • Mucosal lichen planus
  • Lichen planus of the nails
  • Lichen planus of the scalp ( leading to cicatricial alopecia)
  • Inverse lichen planus
  • Special forms
  • Drug-induced lichen planus
  • Lupus erythematosus-lichen planus overlap syndrome
  • Lichen planus pemphigoides
  • Keratosis lichenoides chronica
  • Lichenoid reaction of graft-versus-host disease
  • Lichenoid keratosis
  • Lichenoid dermatitis

Signs and symptoms

Lichen planus affecting the lower lip.
Micrograph of lichen planus. H&E stain.

The typical rash of lichen planus is well-described by the "5 Ps": well-defined pruritic, planar, purple, polygonal papules. The commonly affected sites are near the wrist and the ankle. The rash tends to heal with prominent blue-black or brownish discoloration that persists for a long time. Besides the typical lesions, many morphological varieties of the rash may occur. The presence of cutaneous lesions is not constant and may wax and wane over time. Oral lesions tend to last far longer than cutaneous lichen planus lesions.

Oral lichen planus (OLP) may present in one of three forms.

  • The reticular form is the most common presentation and manifests as white lacy streaks on the mucosa (known as Wickham's striae) or as smaller papules (small raised area). The lesions tend to be bilateral and are asymptomatic. The lacy streaks may also be seen on other parts of the mouth, including the gingiva (gums), the tongue, palate and lips.The reticular form is the easiest to diagnose. The bullas lesions must be differentiated from pemphigoid, chemical burns traumatic ulcers. When they break, they appear as ulcers and need to be differentiated by squamous cell carcinoma.
  • The bullous form presents as fluid-filled vesicles which project from the surface.The atrophic and erosive forms must be differentiated from lichenoid drug reactions,SLE, pemphigoids and other immunobullous disease, candidiasis, erythema multiforme.
  • The erosive forms (Atrophic LP & Ulcerative LP) present with erythematous (red) areas that are ulcerated and uncomfortable. The erosion of the thin epithelium may occur in multiple areas of the mouth (more prominent on the posterior buccal mucosa), or in one area, such as the gums, where they resemble desquamative gingivitis. Wickham's striae may also be seen near these ulcerated areas. This form may undergo malignant transformation, although this is controversial. The malignant transformation rate is thought to be less than 1%, however it has been reported to be as high as 5%.[3] For any persistent oral lesion of erosive lichen planus that does not respond to topical corticosteroids, a biopsy is recommended to rule out precancerous (premalignant) change or malignant transformation.

The microscopic appearance of lichen planus is pathognomonic for the condition

  • Hyperparakeratosis with thickening of the granular cell layer
  • Development of a "saw-tooth" appearance of the rete pegs
  • Degeneration of the basal cell layer with Civatte or colloid body formation. These result from degenerating epithelial cells.
  • Infiltration of lymphocytic inflammatory cells into the subepithelial layer of connective tissue
  • epithelial connective tissue interphase weakens resulting in formation of histological cleft known as Max. Joseph's space.

Lichen planus may also affect the genital mucosa – vulvovaginal-gingival lichen planus. It can resemble other skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.

Rarely, lichen planus shows esophageal involvement, where it can present with erosive esophagitis and stricturing. It has also been hypothesized that it is a precursor to squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus.[citation needed]

Clinical experience suggests that Lichen planus of the skin alone is easier to treat as compared to one which is associated with oral and genital lesions.

Nail & hair loss is irreversible.


The cause of lichen planus is not known. It is not contagious[4] and does not involve any known pathogen. Some lichen planus-type rashes (known as lichenoid reactions) occur as allergic reactions to medications for high blood pressure, heart disease and arthritis, in such cases termed drug-induced lichenoid reactions. These lichenoid reactions are referred to as lichenoid mucositis (of the mucosa) or dermatitis (of the skin). Lichen planus has been reported as a complication of chronic hepatitis C virus infection and can be a sign of chronic graft-versus-host disease of the skin (Lichenoid reaction of graft-versus-host disease). [5]. It has been suggested that true lichen planus may respond to stress, where lesions may present on the mucosa or skin during times of stress in those with the disease. Lichen planus affects women more than men (at a ratio of 3:2), and occurs most often in middle-aged adults. The involvement of the mucous membranes is seen frequently and usually is asymptomatic, but occasionally, LP can be complicated by extensive painful erosions.[6] Lichen planus in children is rare. In unpublished clinical observation, lichen planus appears to be associated with hypothyroidism in 3 young females.[citation needed]

Reactions to amalgam fillings may contribute to the oral lesions very similar to lichen planus, and a systematic review found that many of the lesions resolved after the fillings were replaced with another material.[7]

Lichen planus can be part of Grinspan's syndrome.


Care of OLP is within the scope of oral medicine speciality. Currently there is no cure for lichen planus but there are certain types of medicines used to reduce the effects of the inflammation. Lichen planus may go into a dormant state after treatment. There are also reports that lichen planus can flare up years after it is considered cured.

Medicines used to treat lichen planus include:

Non-drug treatments:


  1. ^ "lichen planus" at Dorland's Medical Dictionary
  2. ^ Freedberg, et. al. (2003). Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0071380760.
  3. ^
  4. ^ Penn State College of Medicine - Lichen Planus
  5. ^ Cervoni E. Hepatitis C. The Lancet, Volume 351, Issue 9110, Pages 1209 - 1210, 18 April 1998 doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(05)79162-5
  6. ^ 25. Yu TC, Kelly S, Weinberg J, Scheinfeld NS. Isolated lichen planus of the lower lip. Cutis. 2003;7:210-2. "PMID 12661749"
  7. ^ Issa Y, Brunton PA, Glenny AM, Duxbury AJ (November 2004). "Healing of oral lichenoid lesions after replacing amalgam restorations: a systematic review". Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol Oral Radiol Endod 98 (5): 553–65. doi:10.1016/j.tripleo.2003.12.027. PMID 15529127. 
  8. ^ Pavlotsky F, Nathansohn N, Kriger G, Shpiro D, Trau H (April 2008). "Ultraviolet-B treatment for cutaneous lichen planus: our experience with 50 patients". Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed 24 (2): 83–6. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0781.2008.00344.x. PMID 18353088. 
  9. ^ Choonhakarn C, Busaracome P, Sripanidkulchai B, Sarakarn P (March 2008). "The efficacy of aloe vera gel in the treatment of oral lichen planus: a randomized controlled trial". Br. J. Dermatol. 158 (3): 573–7. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2133.2007.08370.x. PMID 18093246. 
  10. ^ Agha-Hosseini F, Borhan-Mojabi K, Monsef-Esfahani HR, Mirzaii-Dizgah I, Etemad-Moghadam S, Karagah A (Feb 2010). "Efficacy of purslane in the treatment of oral lichen planus". Phytother Res. 24 (2): 240–4. doi:10.1002/ptr.2919. PMID 19585472. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужна курсовая?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lichen planus — (m), flache Knötchenflechte (f) eng lichen planus …   Arbeitssicherheit und Gesundheitsschutz Glossar

  • Lichen planus — A common skin disease with small itchy pink or purple spots on the arms or legs. The lesions (abnormal areas) on the skin in lichen planus are typically polygonal, flat (hence, the term planus), and pruritic (itchy). Occurs characteristically on… …   Medical dictionary

  • lichen planus atrophicus — lichen planus characterized by atrophy in the center of preexisting lesions of lichen planus, ultimately leading to atrophic white spots on the skin that aggregate to form small white or purple patches, sometimes with erythematous borders. Called …   Medical dictionary

  • lichen planus follicularis — lichen planus accompanied by alopecia cicatrisata, with patches of pointed, keratotic lesions around hair follicles, often leading to local atrophy. Called also l. planopilaris and follicular lichen planus …   Medical dictionary

  • lichen planus hypertrophicus — lichen planus characterized by verrucous plaques covered with scales, usually located on the shins but sometimes elsewhere on the body. Called also hypertrophic l. planus and l. planus verrucosus …   Medical dictionary

  • lichen planus actinicus — lichen planus occurring in hot climates or hot weather, especially on sun exposed areas of the skin, characterized by papular lesions that usually have pale centers and darker borders. Called also actinic or subtropical l. planus …   Medical dictionary

  • lichen planus subtropicus — lichen planus tropicus l. planus actinicus …   Medical dictionary

  • lichen planus annularis — lichen planus in which groups of papules form annular configurations, especially on the genitals, lower trunk, and lips, and in the mouth …   Medical dictionary

  • lichen planus erythematosus — a rare variant of lichen planus characterized by soft, nonpruritic, erythematous papules …   Medical dictionary

  • lichen planus pemphigoides — a condition combining characteristics of both bullous lichen planus and bullous pemphigoid …   Medical dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”