Hairy leukoplakia

Hairy leukoplakia
Hairy leukoplakia
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 K13.3
ICD-9 528.6
DiseasesDB 5594
eMedicine med/938
MeSH D017733

Hairy leukoplakia (also known as "oral hairy leukoplakia"[1]:385) is a white patch on the side of the tongue with a corrugated or hairy appearance.



Hairy leukoplakia is seen in severe defects of immunity, particularly in HIV infection. The cause of this condition is an opportunistic infection by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). After the primary EBV infection has been overcome, the virus stays latent in the B cells and also causes lytic infection in the oropharynx, controlled by the immune system. Uncontrolled lytic infection in the oropharynx is manifested as oral hairy leukoplakia in immunosuppressed hosts. Oral hairy leukoplakia is not associated with any malignant potential.

In 1992, the University of Connecticut School of Dental Medicine reported on two cases of oral hairy leukoplakia occurring in patients without any risk factors for HIV infection, or any other evidence of immune deficiency.[2] It has been observed in patients on steroid therapy.[3]


The condition does not cause any other symptoms and does not require any treatment.[citation needed] If treatment is required, acyclovir or valacyclovir is sometimes used.[4]

See also


  1. ^ James, William D.; Berger, Timothy G.; et al. (2006). Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: clinical Dermatology. Saunders Elsevier. ISBN 0-7216-2921-0. 
  2. ^ Eisenberg E, Krutchkoff D, Yamase H. (1992). "Incidental oral hairy leukoplakia in immunocompetent persons. A report of two cases.". Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol. 74 (3): 332–3. doi:10.1016/0030-4220(92)90070-7. PMID 1328983. 
  3. ^ Piperi E, Omlie J, Pambuccian S, Koutlas IG (November 2008). "Oral Hairy Leukoplakia in HIV-Negative Patients: Report of 10 Cases". Int. J. Surg. Pathol. 18 (3): 177–83. doi:10.1177/1066896908327865. PMID 19033322. 
  4. ^ Walling DM, Flaitz CM, Nichols CM (September 2003). "Epstein-Barr virus replication in oral hairy leukoplakia: response, persistence, and resistance to treatment with valacyclovir". J. Infect. Dis. 188 (6): 883–90. doi:10.1086/378072. PMID 12964120. 

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