Diagnosing lichen planus 

Lichen planus is often diagnosed by a GP or dentist examining the affected area. 

Lichen planus of the skin

Your GP may be able to make a diagnosis based on the characteristic rash. However, lichen planus can be mistaken for other skin conditions, such as eczema, which also causes the skin to become red, flaky and itchy.

If your doctor is unable to make a confident diagnosis by examining your skin, they may want to take a small skin sample (biopsy), which will be examined under a microscope.

If a skin biopsy is required, you'll be given a local anaesthetic to numb the affected area so you don't feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure.

Lichen planus of the mouth (oral lichen planus)

A dentist or doctor can diagnose oral lichen planus by looking at the inside of your mouth.

A biopsy may be recommended to confirm the diagnosis. A sample of mouth tissue will be removed so that it can be examined under a microscope. As with lichen planus of the skin, you'll be given a local anaesthetic to numb the pain.

Page last reviewed: 08/10/2014

Next review due: 08/10/2016