Lichen Planus is a fairly common rash (1% of the-population), that can affect different parts of your body, including the inside of your mouth. It usually appears in adults as clusters of itchy, shiny, raised, purple-red papules/bumps that typically appear on the inside of your wrists, around the ankles and lower back. A closer look may show shiny white streaks on the surface of the bumps. Lichen Planus often affects the inside of the cheeks and gums also and this can be seen in about 50% of patients who have it on the skin.
The cause of Lichen Planus is not clear. It is not contagious. There are certain drugs that can cause “lichenoid skin eruptions”. Certain blood pressure tablets and anti-malarial tablets are associated. In most patients lichen planus will heal within 18 months, and not return. Diagnosis is usually clinical, made by your Dermatology Doctor although sometimes a skin biopsy (small sample of skin which is then examined under the microscope) will be taken if there is uncertainty.
There is no cure for Lichen Planus, so treatments aim to ease the symptoms and clear the rash. Topical corticosteroids and antihistamines might be prescribed by your Doctors for severe itch. Occasionally oral steroids will be required for more severe cases but this will be under medical supervision. Light treatment might be suggested through the skin specialist/Dermatology Department. Lichen Planus of the mouth may not cause any symptoms but sometimes eating and drinking can be painful. Mouthwashes and steroid pastes will sometimes be prescribed by your Doctor/Dentist.