Lichen Planus Dermatologist2019-06-11T09:53:36+00:00

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Lichen planus is an intensely itchy inflammatory skin condition that consists of small, purplish-red or dark bumps

IN THIS PAGE, I EXPLAIN THE SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES OF LICHEN PLANUS – AND HOW TO TREAT IT

Treatment helps people of all ages take control of their skin condition and get their life back.

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How does lichen planus impact people on a day-by-day basis?

WHILE NOT DANGEROUS, LICHEN PLANUS CAN BE A STRESS-INDUCING CONDITION THAT CAN LEAD TO LOW MOOD AND CONSTANT FRUSTRATION

Signs of lichen planus include…

Include small, 3-5mm flat-topped bumps that are purplish-red or dark in appearance. More often than not, the rash is intensely itchy.

Lichen planus can appear in many areas

Up to 50% of patients may also have lichen planus on the inside of their mouth, and 10% will have nail changes. Sometimes the genital area is affected. Lichen planus on the scalp, called lichen planopilaris, can result in patches of hair loss.

The most common lichen planus symptoms

Bumps may itch a little or a lot; you may have just a few or many of them. Fine white lines may accompany the bumps. They can occur anywhere but are most common on your wrists, arms, back, and ankles. Thick scaly patches may appear on your shins and ankles in some types of lichen planus. Sometimes, bumps on your skin may appear in an area where your skin has been scratched or burned. Dark skin patches may replace skin bumps that fade. These patches usually fade away after many months.

Is it contagious?

People may ask you if it’s contagious – it isn’t. Some may give you unsolicited but well-intended advice to avoid certain foods. That’s unlikely to help. Others still may advise using creams, lotions, or other home remedies – again, we have effective means of addressing the condition medically, provided you see a dermatologist.

Is there hope for those who suffer with lichen planus?

The condition tends to self-resolve in a few months. In the meantime, topical and systemic preparations, as well as phototherapy, can be used. I will advise you about the most appropriate treatment for your condition following an initial consultation.

What my patients love about my service

MY PATIENTS ARE MY BEST PROMOTERS

Please pass on my thanks to Dr Pratsou for her assessment on my continued taking of roaccutane.

She was completely right, I didn’t need a new course, I needed to move away from the drug. The creams she gave me and Cetaphil recommendation have meant my skin has been the best it’s ever been (ongoing and since I saw her) ALL SUMMER :))))) I’ve had zero problems…and I’m loving it.

Thank you once again.


Phillip, Acne

“Dear Dr Pratsou,

Following the consultation today I feel it appropriate to say thank you for your help in dealing with my rosacea.

On each occasion, I have visited your department I have noticed the kindness and cheeriness of all the staff I have encountered and particularly wanted to say that you made me feel at ease with your calmness and excellent manner.

All is much appreciated.”


Anne, Rosacea

“Thank you very much!!

You three were (and are) a great team!

I will remember you.

You made me feel comfortable.”


Ellie

“Tania,

Please pass to Dr Pratsou my thanks for her skilled work.

The wound is healing beautifully and now the stitches are out it looks as though it will be almost invisible once fully healed.”


Graham, Skin cancer removal

“Dear Dr Penelope, Rena & the team, (I can’t remember the nurse’s name who helped me during my 2 procedures at the Spire!)

I wanted to thank you for your support and help during a very difficult time. You guys do a wonderful job – and we are eternally grateful for your help.”


Clarissa, Skin cancer

“I would like to put on record how impressed I was with the operation you performed for the removal of the SCC on my neck. I cannot even see where the cut or the stitches were! I am indeed very grateful for the excellent work you do.”


Harry, Squamous Cell Carcinoma

“Dear Dr Pratsou,

I am very grateful to you for your diagnosis, recommended treatment and advice. Your letter to my GP sets out both the course of events, and your own analysis of probable condition and possible cause, clearly summarising our discussion.

I hope there will be no recurrence but I will certainly come back to you if there is.”


Ryan, Skin rash

“Dear Tania,

Please pass on my thanks to Dr Pratsou. I saw her this morning for a mole check. She was so lovely and reassuring. Please also thank the two nurses who assisted her during the mole removal procedure. I was very nervous, but they were very efficient, which meant I did not have too long to think about it, but most of all they were very kind. They kept me distracted and calm, which made a huge difference. Thank you also for your efficiency in both booking me in so quickly.”


James, Mole removal
Dear Ms. Pratsou,

I am writing to thank you for the care you have given me in the past few months. From the moment I walked into your consulting room with a lesion on my cheek, a lesion that I fully expected to be some sort of skin cancer (and it was), you have been thorough, reassuring, respectful and in every way professional.

You recognised that I had some insight into the condition of my skin and the procedures required to treat me. You listened to me. You projected expertise and compassion.

During the procedure to remove the growth you ensured that the atmosphere in the treatment room remained not only calm, but actually pleasant. Had it not been that you were excising a growth and sewing me up, I almost felt as if you, me and the nurse were at some sort of women’s discussion group. The time flew by. I had zero anxieties about the procedure and as we both know now, the wound healed flawlessly.

Thank you for your expertise and your communication skills and all round good nature. I feel very lucky.


Karen Tatom, Skin cancer removal

We have replaced the images and names of real patients who provided these testimonials to protect their privacy.

The first step to feeling in charge of your skin is to book an initial consultation

FIND OUT HOW TO GET THE SKIN YOU WANT

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How it works

FEEL IN CHARGE OF YOUR SKIN IN 3 EASY STEPS

STEP 1 – CALL US
STEP 2 – LET’S MEET
STEP 3 – RESOLUTION
CONTACT MY STAFF

Give us a call on 0118 373 5198 and we’ll help guide you towards a first appointment.

MEET WITH ME

I’ll see you and examine your skin before I recommend treatment. In some cases, I can begin treating your condition on the same day.

FEEL IN CHARGE OF YOUR SKIN

I’ll guide you down the road towards a resolution of your skin condition so that you can get back to normal life.

More information about lichen planus

FOR THOSE WHO WANT THE DETAILS

Lichen planus is an inflammatory skin condition that occurs in:

  • around 1% of the population
  • in both women and men
  • more commonly over the age of 40 years.

The rash consists of small, purplish-red or dark bumps that are often quite itchy. Lichen planus can also affect the mouth, nails and scalp.

Signs of lichen planus include small, 3-5mm flat-topped bumps that are purplish-red or dark in appearance.

More often than not, the rash is intensely itchy.

Up to 50% of patients may also have lichen planus on the inside of their mouth, and 10% will have nail changes.

Sometimes the genital area is affected.

Lichen planus on the scalp, called lichen planopilaris, can result in patches of hair loss.

Lichen planus is thought to be an autoimmune condition (a result of an overactive immune system).

It can sometimes run in families.

A rash that looks like lichen planus can occur due to medication like antihypertensives and antimalarials, causing a ‘lichenoid drug eruption’.

I will have a look at any areas of your skin affected by lichen planus. I will also pay close attention to your nails, scalp, inside of your mouth (and if there are any concerns, your genital area) as the condition also affects these areas.

Often, treatment with topical steroid preparations helps with the itching. Steroid-sparing topical preparations such as Protopic (Tacrolimus) can also be used.

In selected cases, I suggest oral steroids for limited periods if the rash is extensive.

Narrowband UVB phototherapy, a type of light therapy, is another excellent treatment option in patients with extensive lichen planus. This consists of 3 sessions per week for a period of 8-10 weeks.

If lichen planus presents on the inside of the mouth or affects the genital area, it may be more persistent. In these cases, I may need to plan and deliver your treatment in conjunction with an oral medicine specialist or gynaecologist, respectively.

Lichen planopilaris can cause scarring hair loss and requires strong topical steroid preparations and often systemic treatment.

“What is the best treatment for lichen planus?”

The best treatment will depend on the type of lichen planus that you have, the body site affected and how extensive it is. Topical and systemic preparations, as well as phototherapy, can be used. I will advise you about the most appropriate treatment for your condition following an initial consultation.

“Can food allergy cause lichen planus?”

Food allergy is not known to cause lichen planus. However, sometimes a lichenoid eruption (a rash very similar to lichen planus) can occur due to contact allergy to specific substances, or as a reaction to medication.

“Is lichen planus curable?”

No, therefore treatments are targeted towards controlling lichen planus. However, lichen planus on the torso and limbs tends to be self-limiting i.e. it tends to resolve within a few months.

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About the author

Dr Penelope Pratsou | Consultant Dermatologist

MBChB, MRCP (UK) (Dermatology)

I’m Dr Penelope Pratsou, a skilled independent Consultant Dermatologist based in Berkshire. I have specialist expertise in the diagnosis and management of all skin cancers, and in performing mole checks. I’m a trained skin surgeon and remove skin cancers, moles, skin tags, cysts and warts.

I also have invaluable experience in dealing with all skin conditions, from the common skin complaints of acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis, to the rarer and more complex skin problems, having seen it all through years of NHS work.

After I obtained my Membership to the Royal College of Physicians, I undertook rigorous specialist training in dermatology, before being appointed as a Consultant Dermatologist at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading. There, I helped set up and lead a busy clinic for the diagnosis and treatment of suspected skin cancer. I was also actively involved in supervising and training both dermatology and GP trainees.

Alongside my increasingly busy private practice, I have maintained an NHS practice in Oxford in order to continue to engage with challenging cases and to develop my specialist interest in skin allergy.

Learn more about me

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