Lichen planus is a skin disease with a prevalence of approximately 1% in the population. Although it is usually seen between the ages of 30 and 60, it can also affect children. It involves the skin surface but can also affect all mucosal surfaces and especially the mouth and genital mucosa. The scalp and nails may also become involved.
Lichen planus is characterized by a quite itchy violet-pink skin lesion that most commonly affects the inner surfaces of the wrists and ankles. However, it can be seen all over the body and especially the arms, legs and genital area. It progresses with frequent attacks but rarely lasts for life. Skin damage due to friction, scratching and cleaning by harsh rubbing play an important role in the development of new lesions. Patients should therefore be warned to avoid irritating the skin.
Although the cause is not definitely known, it is thought to be related to the immune system. The disease often develops during stressful periods. It can also develop due to various infections (hepatitis C) and drugs (medication for high blood pressure, cardiac problems, malaria and rheumatic disorders). It is therefore important to query the drugs used by lichen planus patients. Changing any suspect drugs is recommended.
Lichen planus improves spontaneously within one year in two thirds of the patients but the lesions may leave brown skin spots as they regress. The age of the patient and severity of the disease are the main factors in the choice of treatment. The main treatment choices are topical corticosteroids and systemic antihistamines. Phototherapy and systemic immunosuppressives should be preferred in severe cases.