It is a common skin disease which can last from a few months to a number of years. The start of the disease is gradual but its cause is still unknown. It appears as a reaction to more than one provoking factor. There is also an inherited form of the disease which is severe and has a protracted course. This disease strikes men and women between the age of thirty and seventy and is uncommon in the case of young and elderly. It has been found to occur in all racial groups.
It can occur anywhere on the skin but is mostly found in the inside of ankles and wrists, back, lower legs and neck. In some cases the mouth, hair, nails and the genital region are affected. Further in some cases bumps may appear. In around twenty percent of the cases, this disease causes minimal symptoms and requires no treatment. In a number of cases the itching associated with it tends to be constant and intense.
This disease has a greater chance of affecting women as compared to men and it rarely affects children.
Up till now the cause of lichen planus is unknown but in a number of cases lichen planus type rashes have occurred as allergic reactions to medications for heart diseases, arthritis and high blood pressure.
These reactions are known as lichenoid mucositis. It has also been reported to be a complication of hepatitis C virus infection.
The disease is characterized by the appearance of shiny and flat topped bumps which has an angular shape. The color of the bumps is reddish purplish with a shiny cast caused due to a very fine scale. Thick patches can be found on the shins but blisters rarely occur.
As of now there is cure for lichen planus but the treatments undertaken are quite effective in relieving the itch and improving the appearance of the rash till it goes away. It has been found out that topical corticosteroids are useful in treating lichen planus. Antihistamines might be prescribed for relieving the itch. Extensive cases might require oral corticosteroid for a number of weeks. This treatment generally shortens the duration of the outbreak. In severe cases treatment involves photo chemotherapy light treatment. In some cases retinoids drug is also recommended.
When the disease heals it leaves a dark brown discoloration of the skin. There is a chance that one out of five people may suffer from a second attack of lichen planus.