Disease Information for Lichen planus: Definition

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  • An inflammatory, pruritic disease of the skin and mucous membranes, which can be either generalized or localized; It is characterized by distinctive purplish, flat-topped papules having a predilection for the trunk and flexor surfaces; The lesions may be discrete or coalesce to form plaques; Histologically, there is a "saw-tooth" pattern of epidermal hyperplasia and vacuolar alteration of the basal layer of the epidermis along with an intense upper dermal inflammatory infiltrate composed predominantly of T-cells; Etiology is unknown-------------------

    Lichen planus is an inflammatory mucocutaneous condition with characteristic violaceous polygonal flat-topped papules and plaques; Pruritus is often severe; Skin lesions may be disfiguring, and involvement of the oral mucosa or genital mucosa in severe cases may be debilitating; Oral lichen planus may predispose to the development of squamous cell carcinoma within lesions; Involvement of the scalp and the nails may also occur; While most cases of lichen planus are idiopathic, some may be caused by the ingestion of certain medications (eg, gold, antimalarial agents, penicillamine, thiazide diuretics, beta blockers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, quinidine and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors) or linked to hepatitis C virus infection; Patients with localized lichen planus are usually treated with potent topical steroids, while systemic steroids are used to treat patients with generalized lichen planus (Am Fam Physician 2000;61:3319-24,3327-8)

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