Lichen planus is an uncommon, recurrent skin condition that
causes itchy, shiny reddish purple spots on the skin; gray-white spots in the
mouth; glassy bright red spots on the
vulva (the area around the vagina); and small patchy areas of hair
loss (atrophic cicatricial alopecia).
The symptoms of lichen planus may begin
abruptly or gradually. The initial occurrence may persist for weeks or months,
and recurrences can continue over many years.
Lichen planus is
not contagious. Although its exact cause is not known, it appears more often
during stress, fatigue, or exposure to medicines or chemicals. It affects
women more often than men.
Treatment of lichen planus focuses
on relieving itching, such as with medicated creams. Severe cases may require
prescription medicines taken by mouth or light treatment.
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
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