Erosive Lichen Planus

by Sam Malone

Erosive Lichen Planus is quite a rare condition, which can be painful as well as chronic. It mainly affects mucosal surfaces such as the mouth and the genitals. This disease manifests itself in the form of persistently painful and unsightly blisters and ulcers. It is a non-infectious condition that mostly affects people over the age of 40. Unfortunately, the exact cause of erosive lichen planus is not known. There is speculation that it could be an auto-immune disease in which immune cells called T-Lymphocytes attack the epidermal cells in the mucosal areas.

A diagnosis will need to be made by checking the patient’s medical history and clinical appearance and origin of the ulcers. Doctors will also run tests to rule out cancer. One to three percent cases of erosive lichen planus can lead to oral, vulva or penile cancer. Erosive lichen planus is of two forms, these are:

  • Oral Erosive Lichen Planus: Here, there are ulcers and erosions that appear on the insides of the mouth, mainly in the cheeks, gums and the inside of the lips. These erosions are large and irregular, persisting for weeks. It can also be in the form of white lacy streaks and the peeling of the gums. Since these ulcers are very painful, eating will become difficult for people suffering from it, resulting in weight loss, nutritional deficiencies and sometimes even depression.
  • Genital Erosive Lichen Planus: In women, this condition affects the inner lips and the entrance to the vagina. The affected area is red, raw and very painful, especially when urinating, and makes sexual intercourse very difficult. It can also lead to a severe itching sensation. In some cases, the hood of the clitoris may disappear and the scarring can form a closing over the vagina. Severe cases may have erosive lichen planus deep in the vagina causing superficial ulceration and inflammation, where the cells peel off to release a thick sticky mucky discharge and can bleed easily on contact.
There is no set cure for the disease but it can be managed, albeit challengingly. Systemic and topical treatment will be advised either on a long term basis or intermittently. The main purpose of any treatment for erosive lichen planus is to get respite from the disease until it goes away on its own. There are also some home remedies that can be used as treatment, these are:

  • Colloidal Oatmeal Soak: For this remedy, fill the tub with lukewarm water. Make sure it isn’t too hot as excessive heat might end up irritating the skin even more and the affected areas will dry out. Mix oatmeal in the water as per the directions and then sit and relax in it for about 15 minutes. This form of treatment is used for all kinds of itchy rashes (only for genital erosive lichen planus)
  • Cold Compresses: Soak some washcloths in cold water and apply to the concerned areas for about 10 to 15 minutes. After which apply some moisturizer or soothing lotion to trap the moisture in and to keep it from drying (only for genital erosive lichen planus)
  • Diet: Avoid spicy or acidic foods, alcoholic drinks and smoking tobacco. All of these can cause additional aggravation of the ulcers in the mouth.
  • Dental Hygiene: Maintain oral hygiene for added respite and to prevent further damage. Go regularly for your dental check-ups.
  • Genital Hygiene: Make sure the area is kept clean and dry. Gently wash the genitals with water or a non-soap cleanser.
Your medical health professional may recommend some medication like antibiotics and topical and systemic steroids, among other treatments.

References

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22336835


Warning: The reader of this article should exercise all precautionary measures while following instructions on the home remedies from this article. Avoid using any of these products if you are allergic to it. The responsibility lies with the reader and not with the site or the writer.
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