Complications of lichen planus 

Complications of lichen planus may include discoloured skin and, in some cases, erosive lichen planus may develop into certain types of cancer.

Skin pigmentation

After the lichen planus rash has cleared up, the affected area of skin may be a different colour to what it was originally. There may be a brown or grey mark, which can sometimes last for months. This is known as post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, and tends to be more noticeable in people with darker skin.

Erosive lichen planus

Erosive lichen planus is a long-lasting (chronic) form of lichen planus that causes painful ulcers to develop, as well as burning and discomfort in the genital areas of both male and females.

Occasionally, in around 2% of cases, long-term cases of erosive lichen planus can develop into certain types of cancer, such as:

Regularly examining yourself and being aware of any changes that occur will help you to identify any problems at an early stage. Pay close attention to ulcerated areas in your mouth or genitals that don't heal and persist for a long time. Visit your GP immediately if you notice any changes that you're concerned about.

You should also visit your dentist regularly to ensure that your teeth and gums remain healthy, and that any ulcers or patches that form in your mouth are examined and treated promptly. Depending on individual circumstances, dental check-ups for adults are recommended anywhere between every 3 to 24 months.

Read more about treating lichen planus, including self-help tips for managing all types of the condition.

Page last reviewed: 08/10/2014

Next review due: 08/10/2016