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Lichen planus

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

If you're not sure it's lichen planus

Lichen planus on your skin usually gets better on its own in about 9 to 18 months.

Creams and ointments from a GP can help control the rash and ease itching.

If creams and ointments do not 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 a GP can help ease symptoms like burning or sore gums.

You cannot catch lichen planus and it does not usually come back once it's cleared up.

For support and information, see UK Lichen Planus.

If you have lichen planus on your skin:

  • wash with plain warm water – avoid soaps and body washes
  • wash your hair over a sink or bath so the shampoo does not come into contact with the rest of your skin
  • use an emollient (moisturising treatment for the skin) on the rash

If the lichen planus is on your genitals:

  • hold a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a clean tea towel against the affected bits to ease itching and swelling
  • avoid wearing tights or close-fitting clothes

If you have it in your mouth:

  • brush your teeth carefully twice a day to keep your gums healthy
  • avoid salty, spicy or acidic foods if they make your mouth sore
  • avoid alcohol and mouthwashes that contain it