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Oral lichen planus: symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Oral lichen planus is the manifestation in the oral mucosa of an inflammatory mucocutaneous disease: lichen planus. Its manifestations are characterized by affecting the skin, scalp, and mucous membranes, especially in the oral cavity.

This is the most common non-infectious disease of the oral cavity, although in general it is not a rare condition. Despite the fact that in recent years the number of infected has increased slightly, oral lichen planus affects less than 2% of the population. It is very rare that this affects children, the most affected being adults and the elderly. If you want to know everything about this disease, keep reading this article about oral lichen planus: symptoms and treatment.

Symptoms of oral lichen planus

Lichen planus is a skin-mucosa disease, therefore, its clinical manifestations are at the level of the skin, nails and scalp. Despite this, the manifestation in the mouth is the most frequent of this entity, a matter for which it is called oral lichen planus.

These are lesions in the form of plaques (rounded), papules (raised), which usually tend to itch . The pattern is almost always multicentric and bilateral, so we usually find symmetrical lesions on each side of the oral cavity, among the most frequent we have:

  • Both sides of the tongue
  • In both upper and lower gums
  • On the cheeks (inner mucosa of the cheeks)

These papular lesions are usually painful , except in the mildest cases where they go unnoticed or cause mere discomfort.

As the lesions progress, they increase in size and turn white-purplish in color with a reticular pattern that characterizes them.

Causes of oral lichen planus

Oral lichen planus is a disease of origin still unknown to science, although it is believed that in its genesis there may be an allergic or autoimmune-based component that links oral lichen planus with certain circumstances such as:

  • History of previous exposure to medications: such as: NSAIDs, antibiotics, diuretics, chloroquine, also to chemicals, metals such as arsenic, compounds such as gold salts or bismuth salts.
  • Mechanical local irritative factors: such as dental prostheses, or substances such as alcohol or tobacco that are harmful to the oral mucosa.
  • History of suffering from chronic systemic diseases such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
  • Last but not least, a close relationship of this pathology with states such as depression, anxiety or emotional stress has been documented.

How Oral Lichen Planus Is Diagnosed

The diagnosis of oral lichen planus is made in consultation with the professional. Through the simple method of physical examination , the presence of the characteristic lesions that it produces can be visualized in the oral cavity.

The presence of concomitant and similar lesions on the skin, scalp, nails, and mucous membranes also supports the diagnosis, since as we said before, lichen planus is a muco-cutaneous disease and OLP is only the way it manifests itself in the cavity. oral.

In the case of large ulcerations, which cause excessive pain or with poor response to treatment, the doctor will probably consider taking a sample of the injured tissue for analysis in the laboratory. Biopsy can also be ordered in case of doubt for diagnostic confirmation or even routinely as part of the exploration of the disease.

Treatment and prognosis of oral lichen planus

Oral lichen planus usually does not require specific treatment, since in most cases it tends to heal spontaneously. When the lesions are progressive and increase in number and size or produce many symptoms in the patient, a medical treatment that we call “symptomatic” can be instituted that is aimed at alleviating the discomfort caused by the injuries, waiting for them to revert:

  • Antihistamines.
  • Pain treatment.
  • Reinforce and emphasize the oral hygiene of the patient.
  • Topical corticosteroids to control inflammation.
  • In the case of reddened lesions: local antifungal and antibiotics – they prevent superinfection of the lesion by protecting against fungi and bacteria such as oral candidiasis .
  • Vitamin A, natural anti-inflammatory.
  • Since it is related to stress and anxiety, depending on which cases the patient can be referred to the psychologist.
  • In the following article you can find remedies for tongue sores .


Broadly speaking, oral lichen planus is an entity that is usually benign in the vast majority of cases, although its tendency to relapse in the form of outbreaks is well documented, which is why it is considered a chronic inflammatory disease and is rarely an indication. of malignancy.

Only in a small minority of patients with oral lichen planus are there complications. These complications can generate mouth ulcers, which can gradually degenerate into other lesions that end up being malignant.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Oral lichen planus: symptoms and treatment , we recommend that you enter our Teeth and mouth category .

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