Lichen planus is a non-infectious, itchy rash that can affect many areas of the body.
Affected areas can include:
- the arms and legs
- the mouth (oral lichen planus)
- the nails and scalp
- the vulva, vagina and penis
Read more about the symptoms of lichen planus.
The exact cause of lichen planus is unknown. However, the condition is not infectious and does not run in families. It cannot be passed on to other people, including sexual partners. Read more about the causes of lichen planus.
A GP can usually diagnose lichen planus by examining the rash and asking you about your symptoms. Oral lichen planus is often diagnosed by a dentist during routine dental check-ups. Read more about diagnosing lichen planus.
Treating lichen planus
There is no single treatment that can cure lichen planus completely. However, treatments are available to help manage the symptoms and make living with it easier. For example, steroid creams are often used to help relieve the itch and control the rash.
Most cases of lichen planus of the skin clear up on their own within six to nine months. The rash rarely lasts longer than 18 months.
Learn more in how lichen planus is treated.
Who is affected
It is estimated that lichen planus affects 1-2% of the population worldwide and is more common in adults over the age of 40.
Lichen planus of the skin affects men and woman equally. However, oral lichen planus is more common among females. The mouth is affected in around 50% of all cases of lichen planus (oral lichen planus).
Erosive lichen planus
Erosive lichen planus is a rare form of the condition that can last for a long time. It causes painful ulcers to develop in the mouth and in male and female genital areas.
In some cases, long-term erosive lichen planus can increase the chance of some types of cancer developing.
Read about complications of lichen planus for more information about erosive lichen planus.