Lichen planusOverview

Lichen planus is a rash that can affect different parts of your body, including the inside of your mouth. See your GP if you think you might have it.

See a GP if you have:

  • clusters of shiny, raised, purple-red blotches on your arms, legs or body (you may see fine white lines on the blotches)
  • white patches on your gums, tongue or the insides of your cheeks
  • burning and stinging in your mouth, especially when you eat or drink
  • bald patches appearing on your scalp
  • sore red patches on your vulva
  • rough, thinning nails with grooves on
  • ring-shaped purple or white patches on your penis

You may only have one of these symptoms.

Lichen planus on your skin can be very itchy, but not always.

You can't catch lichen planus and it doesn't usually come back once it's cleared up.

Treatments from a GP

Lichen planus on your skin usually gets better on its own in about 6 to 9 months. Creams and ointments from your GP can help control the rash and ease itching.

If creams and ointments don't work or you have severe lichen planus, steroid tablets or treatment with a special kind of light (light therapy) can help.

Lichen planus in your mouth can last for several years. Mouthwashes and sprays from your GP can help ease symptoms like burning or sore gums.

For support and information, see UK Lichen Planus.

How to relieve lichen planus at home

Page last reviewed: 06/08/2017
Next review due: 06/08/2020