Lichen Planus

Lichen Planus

Lichen planus (LP) is a condition that causes red, purple, or white spots to appear on the skin. These lesions are often itchy and painful, and they can affect skin anywhere on the body.

On the skin, LP usually presents are shiny, flat, red or purple lesions that most frequently arise on the wrists, arms, or legs. As the lesions heal, they can sometimes turn darker. On the nails, LP presents as lines or ridges. LP can also occur on the mucous membranes such as the skin inside the mouth, vagina, penis, and other organs. LP on mucous membranes presents as red, painful sores or lesions that look like white lace.

What is the treatment?

  • Topical medications: Steroid ointments, creams, or gels such as clobetasol or fluocinonide can be used to reduce inflammation and promote healing of the skin. A class of topical creams called calcineurin inhibitors, such as Elidel or tacrolimus, can be prescribed as a non-steroid option to help reduce inflammation. Topical anesthetic creams can also be prescribed to help patients who experience pain with LP.
  • Oral medications: Oral medications, such as oral steroids, can be prescribed to help reduce inflammation.
  • Phototherapy: In some instances, a special type of light treatment called phototherapy can be used as treatment.

What can I do myself?

  • Wash and dry the skin gently and do not scratch itchy skin.
  • If you have LP in the mouth, brush your teeth twice a day and take good care of your gums.

If you suspect you might have lichen planus, work with our dermatologists to determine the best treatment plan for you.