What is lichen planus?

This is a non infective, very itchy rash typically affecting the mouth, skin and genitalia. It is very common in the UK (2% of people in the country are affected) and slightly more women are affected than men. Episodes may last anywhere between 2-9 years.

What causes lichen planus?

The exact cause is unknown. It is thought to be an autoimmune type disease where the body's own natural defence mechanism attacks the body's own healthy tissues. Lichen planus may be a side effect of certain medications.

What are the symptoms?

  • Lichen planus of the skin: Clusters of shiny, red elevations of the skin with a flat  top and itchy
  • Lichen planus of the mouth: White streaks on the mouth and gums, not painful or itchy
  • Lichen planus of the genitalia: The penis (clusters of red shiny itchy lumps); vulva and vagina (painless white streaks) may be affected.

How can lichen planus be treated?

  • Lotions
  • Topical steroids: Steroid based preparations for the skin
  • Oral medication: Steroids and antihistamines
  • Phototherapy - (PUVA)

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