Oral lichen planus: Cause, Symptoms, and treatment


What is Oral Lichen Planus?

Lichen planus is a disease that affects the mouth and sometimes other body areas. It lasts very long. It is known as "Oral lichen planus" when it affects your mouth. Either it is caused on its own, or it appears as a part of the disease that puts an impact on other parts of the body. Generally, women are more affected than men, and it affects middle age group persons.


What are the various signs and symptoms of oral lichen planus?

Lichen planus shows up in various ways. One common sign is white color patches in your mouth lining, primarily in the gums, cheeks, and tongue. It does not hurt much, but in some instances, it becomes red, ulcers are formed, and in rare cases, blisters along with white patches. In such cases, you might be unable to eat hot and spicy foods.


What are the various causes of oral lichen planus?

Until now, the exact cause of oral lichen planus is not known. One of the causes might be a weak immune system, but it has also been seen that patients with lichen planus do not show any other problem. Occasionally, it might be caused by various reactions to medicines like high blood pressure, painkillers, diabetic medications, penicillamine, and beta blockers. It is not caused by any infection and does not run in families. Emotional stress, citrus fruits, and sometimes spicy foods worsen the symptoms.


How to diagnose oral lichen planus?

Most commonly, it is diagnosed after a proper examination by a specialist doctor. This is because oral lichen planus symptoms appear similar to other disorders for which a biopsy might be required for an appropriate diagnosis. A biopsy is a straightforward procedure by administering local anesthesia, and a small piece of the tissues is taken from your mouth. It usually takes around 7-10 days for that area to get healed.


How is oral lichen planus treated?

Oral lichen planus needs treatment only in case there are painful symptoms. For example, sometimes patients have white patches but do not feel pain, but the lining of the mouth appears a little rough. This does not require treatment. When oral lichen planus does not need any treatment, doctors only prescribe applying some corticosteroid cream in the affected area. In rare cases, you might be required to take corticosteroids or other similar kinds of tablets. You need to follow all the advice that your dental team might give you. This might include avoiding things that can worsen your condition, like spicy foods and items you might have an allergy to. Your dentist might also refer you to a doctor or specialist for additional investigations.


Does oral lichen go away?

In general, oral lichen planus does not go away. Patients will continue to have white patches on the mouth lining. Treatment helps lessen the pain, even though it's impossible to tell early when the condition can become painful.


Does oral lichen planus cause long-term issues?

There might be some connection between oral lichen planus and mouth cancer. About 1 – 3 percent of the patients who suffer from lichen planus for a long time might develop mouth cancer. Even though the exact connection between cancer and oral lichen planus is unclear, only a few patients with oral lichen planus might develop cancer.


Can I take some measures to stop getting oral lichen planus?

As the cause is unknown, it is impossible to stop oral lichen planus from affecting you. But to avoid the risk of getting the severe disease in your mouth lining, you should

  • Avoid smoking
  • Do not drink much alcohol
  • Consume a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Whether you have oral lichen planus or do not, you must clean your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. In addition, you must visit your dentist regularly for your teeth and gums so that if there is any change in the mouth lining, it gets spotted early.




About the Author:

Suprithi Choudhary, M.Pharm (Pharmacology) Medical Content writer

Suprithi is a Pharma Professional working as a medical content writer and previously worked as a Research Scientist and Senior Research Analyst


  • C.M Academy
  • Attended the Panjab University- Chandigarh, Pharma post-graduate in Pharmacology

Special thanks to Dr Deepak Kulkarni, a dental surgeon with over 23 years of experience who proofread this blog. He graduated from the H.K.E's Dental College, Gulbarga, and has certifications in ACHS International Accreditation Education Plan; Advanced Rotary Endodontic - Restorative Continuum; and Leadership, Team Building and Customer Service Leadership from the Oscar Murphy International.

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