Lichen planus is a common rash or tiny bumps that can be very itchy and stubborn. It usually involves the wrists, ankles, genitals and mouth but can affect any part of the body, including the nails and scalp area. It occurs with equal frequency in both sexes and amongst all races.
What causes lichen planus to occur?
The exact cause is unknown at this time, but it tends to affect middle-aged adults more than any other age group.
Lichen planus is not contagious or dangerous, although a related condition called lichen planus-like keratosis can be dangerous if left untreated.
If you look at this skin condition under a microscope, you can see immune cells attacking the skin cells. The immune cells normally attack germs, and no one knows why they attack skin cells in people with this condition.
There are some prescription medications that may cause this condition, including malaria pills and some heart health drugs, although whether or not it is lichen planus or a related rash is yet to be determined.
What are the treatment options for this rash?
The first line of treatment is proper diagnosis. Your dermatologist can usually tell right away just by looking if in fact it is lichen planus. Still, he or she might order some tests and/or a biopsy of the skin just to be sure before recommending any treatment options.
If you have the oral variety, your dentist may actually notice it and refer you to a dermatologist for evaluation.
There is no specific treatment for lichen planus. but cortisone creams can be quiet helpful in addressing the issue.
Antihistamines help the itching, and Vitamin A derivatives as well as PUVA light therapy can clear the rash to some extent.
In most people the rash disappears in about one to two years. A fraction of people will experience another outbreak, and it may come and go for years.