Lichen Planus is a type of skin rash that chiefly occurs as an immune system response and can cause swelling and irritation in the skin, nails, hair, and mucous membranes. There is no specific evidence on the sudden immune response but there may be certain contributing factors like stress, allergens, genetics, viral infections or may crop up with autoimmune disorders.
While it surely is uncomfortable, but it isn’t contagious in nature and mild to moderate cases can very well be managed right at home following some home remedies. However, if the condition is severe and causes intense pain and inflammation, medical intervention in the form of prescription oral and topical medications are necessary.
Although the absolute cause of this skin rash or the sudden immune response is yet unclear, but Lichen planus mainly occurs when the immune system attacks the cells of the skin or mucous membranes.
- Lichen planus can be triggered due to certain conditions like:
- Certain pigments, dyes, chemicals and metals like gold, arsenic and iodide compounds
- Pain relievers, such as ibuprofen and naproxen
- Certain medications for heart disease, high blood pressure or arthritis
- Hepatitis C infection
- Flu vaccine
Certain causative factors that increase the risk of lichen planus include:
Age: This condition is very rare in children and young adults, but middle-aged people are likely to get this skin rash.
Gender: Although the skin form is common in both men and women, the prevalence of the oral form is likely in women than the male counterpart.
Hereditary: The risk of lichen planus increases if one or more of the family members also have this condition.
The common signs and symptoms of this condition usually depend upon the area the rash happens (i.e., on the skin, mucous membranes, genitals, nails and the scalp). This includes:
- Purplish, flat bumps, most often on the inner forearm, wrist or ankle, and sometimes the genitals
- Intense itching
- Blisters that break to form scabs or crusts
- Lesions that develop and spread throughout the body within a few weeks
- Lacy white lesions in the mouth or on the lips or tongue
- Painful sores in the mouth or vagina
- Thin white line on the sores
- Hair loss
- Change in scalp color
- Nail damage or loss
Be it severe or mild, if the condition is left untreated for a long time, it can be extremely difficult to manage. Development of lichen planus on the vulva and in the vagina, when not treated on time can cause severe pain, leave behind scars and sometimes even cause Sexual dysfunction as a long-term complication. Oral sores when left untreated may affect your ability to eat while skin sores may make the skin slightly darker even after the rash clears up, especially in dark-skinned people. Oral planus can also aggravate the chances of oral cancer or spread to the ear canal leading to hearing loss.
Diagnosis And Treatment
If you notice any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms and feel extreme itching and discomfort, do visit a doctor at the earliest. The doctor usually does a thorough physical check-up, acknowledges the past medical history and conduct some diagnostics. These include:
Allergy Test: A series of test is conducted to find out the type of substance you are allergic to that might have caused the rash.
Hepatitis C Test: A blood test is conducted to determine whether lichen planus has occurred due to Hepatitis C infection.
Biopsy: A small piece of the affected tissue is analyzed to determine whether it has the cell patterns characteristic of lichen planus.
While mild and moderate cases of lichen planus may subside on its own within a few months to years, rash affecting the mucous membranes be more resistant to treatment and prone to recur. And hence, to get relieve from itching and inflammation, most people prefer medical intervention. The doctor usually prescribes for medications and other treatments to help relieve itching, ease pain and promote healing. These include:
- Oral anti-infections drugs
- Immune response medicines
- Light therapy