Lichen nitidus is quite a rare skin condition characterized by tiny, flesh-coloured, glistening bumps on the surface of the skin which are usually harmless. The word ‘Nitidus’ is Latin for “glossy,” referring to the shine often seen on the tiny bumps.

It is mainly considered a harmless skin condition that usually goes away on its own within a year. Previously, lichen nitidus used to be considered as a variant of lichen planus, but it’s now treated as an unrelated separate condition. This skin condition can affect anyone, but it usually occurs mostly in children and young adults.

Also Read: Lichen Planus: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Lichen Nitidus


Although the absolute cause of this skin condition is yet unknown but recent scientific studies show that the papules that occur in lichen nitidus mainly results from abnormal inflammatory activity in the skin cells, that is controlled by white blood cells called T lymphocytes. Normally, these T lymphocytes work to heal disease or injury, such as a cut on the finger. In case of lichen nitidus, they get inflamed due to an unknown reason and trigger appearance of tiny bumps on the skin.

Also Read: Seborrheic Dermatitis: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Risk Factors

There’s no clear  research or data as to what increases the chances of lichen nitidus. But it is usually noticed in children and young adults. Although there is no absolute connection, but lichen nitidus is often seen in people already suffering from certain health conditions. These include:


Lichen nitidus chiefly appears as clusters of tiny, shining bumps or papules. The primary characteristics of these bumps include the following:

Size: The bumps may range from pinpoint to pinhead in size.

Shape: They are flat topped and round. They can also be round or polygon shaped.

Texture: The papules may be shiny or scaly clustered in groups.

Color: Bumps are usually the same color as that of the skin. They may appear to be slightly pink on people with lighter skin, or lighter than normal skin color on people with darker skin.

Location: The bumps of lichen nitidus commonly occur on the chest, abdomen, arms and genital areas, including the penis. They quite rarely occur on the palms, soles of the feet or fingernails. Many a times, it may clear up at one site on the body but then again appear at another.

Nature: In very rare cases, the papules of lichen nitidus may itch, and sometimes even quite intensely. They may appear in a line where there’s a scratch, crease or constant pressure on the skin, such as a fold of skin on the abdomen or the crease of skin on the inside of the elbow or wrist.


Lichen nitidus is usually a harmless condition that doesn't result in long-term skin problems or medical complications but do rush to a doctor at the earliest if the papules of litchen nitidus cause fever, itch intensely for a long time or pus ooze out from it.

Diagnosis And Treatment

On noticing the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, it is strongly suggested to consult a skin specialist at the earliest to avoid complications. The doctor usually does a thorough physical check-up, acknowledges the patient’s medical history and asks a few questions like when did the patient first noticed the bump, on which part of the body, the appearance of it, whether the patient has allergical symptoms to any soap or lotion, any family history of allergy etc.

The doctor may also take a small sample of skin from the site of eruption and perform a biopsy to cross out other skin conditions.


In most cases, the papules of lichen nitidus clear up on its own within a year without any proper treatment. Although the appearance of the skin in most people is normal without any scars or discolorations, yet in some, discoloration in the area might linger for several more months or even years.

But in rare cases, if the papules or the skin condition doesnot seem to improve at all or characterize intense itching, the doctor may prescribe for:

  • Topical calcineurin inhibitors
  • Topical corticosteroids
  • Antihistamines
  • Retinoids
  • Other topical medications
  • Phototherapy