What is Lichen Planus ?
Lichen planus; It is an inflammatory skin disease that can attach to various parts of the body. Lesions on the skin usually cause an itchy rash. Although the presence of skin lesions cannot be fixed, they may increase or decrease over time. The average recovery time of the disease is two years. Some patients may experience recurrent attacks. Lichen planus can leave dark patches on the skin after it heals. However, these spots disappear on their own over time.
Lichen planus is a skin disease that affects different parts of the body, especially the mouth and genital area. It is rarely seen in the nails and hair roots. Since it is not an infectious disease, it is not contagious. It can occur at any age, but most cases occur in individuals between the ages of 30 and 60.
What Causes Lichen Planus ?
Although the exact cause of the disease is unknown, it is thought to be related to environmental factors and autoimmune disorders. The factors that cause lichen planus can be listed as follows:
-Allergy to mercury fillings used in dental treatment
-Some drugs used to treat malaria, hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease
-Some of the diuretic drugs
What Are the Symptoms of Lichen Planus ?
Lichen planus; It is characterized by the formation of numerous bright and raised lesions on the skin, 3-5 mm in size. Small bumps on the skin may coalesce to form larger clumps. Lichen planus has a mostly symmetrical distribution throughout the body. In rare cases, it can only be located in a certain part of the body. Lichen planus can also cause vaginitis by affecting deeper areas inside the vagina.
The most affected areas are; wrists and ankles, elbows and waist. It is typical for new lesions to form in areas where the skin itches or rubs against clothing. Therefore, patients should prefer comfortable clothes and protect their skin from irritating factors. Other most common symptoms include:
-Clusters of bright, raised, rash and purple-red spots on the skin
-Fine white lines on the lesions
-White patches on the gums, tongue, or inside of the cheeks
-Burning and stinging in the mouth while eating
-Severe itching on the scalp and hair loss in areas with lesions
-Damage to the nail; thinning, peeling
-Intense itching, especially at night
-Painful red spots in the genital area
How Is Planus Diagnosed ?
The clinical presentation of lichen planus is typical and easily diagnosed by a dermatologist. In some cases, it has been observed that lichen planus is also caused by drugs used in blood pressure, malaria, diabetes and infectious diseases. Notifying the physician of all drugs used during the examination is among the factors that facilitate diagnosis. Various tests may be required for the definitive diagnosis of non-typical lesions. Your doctor will diagnose lichen planus based on your symptoms, medical history, physical examination and, if necessary, the results of laboratory tests. Laboratory tests may include:
Biopsy: It is the process of taking a skin sample from the lesioned area and examining it under a microscope.
Hepatitis C test: Scientific studies show that the Hepatitis C virus triggers lichen planus disease. The doctor may consider testing for Hepatitis C necessary to confirm the diagnosis of the disease and to evaluate treatment options.
Allergy tests: Allergens play an important role in the emergence of lichen planus. Various allergy tests can be done to determine whether there is an allergy that may trigger the disease.
How Is Lichen Planus Treated ?
There is no known cure for lichen planus. The main goal of treatment is to reduce symptoms and accelerate the healing of skin lesions. Lichen planus can be located in different parts of the body in each patient. Therefore, the treatment protocol of the disease varies. Lichen planus is a long-term disease that usually lasts for several years; mouth lesions may be more severe and may progress for a long time. Although the disease is not a form of cancer, follow-up and continuity of treatment are important. The drugs and methods used in the treatment can be listed as follows:
The first option for the treatment of lichen planus is the use of corticosteroid cream or ointment. If the creams do not work on the lesions, the doctor may prescribe corticosteroid pills or injections.
In some cases, lichen planus is accompanied by severe itching. Scratching the skin causes new lesions to appear. Antihistamine drugs relieve itching and prevent the formation of new lesions.
Phototherapy method, also known as Psoralen Ultra-Violet A (PUVA), is very effective in clearing lichen planus lesions. This method uses ultraviolet light that penetrates only the upper layer of the skin. Phototherapy sessions are determined by considering the skin type and skin color of the patient before the treatment.