Causes of lichen planus

Thecause of lichen planus is unknown.

It's thoughtto be related to the immune system, or an abnormal response of the immune system to certain medicines.

Lichen planus isn't infectious, doesn't usually run in families and can't be passed on to others.

Autoimmune reaction

The immune system protects your body against illness and infectionby producing antibodies (proteins)that attack bacteria and viruses.

In people with lichen planus, it's thought that the immune system becomes overactive, causing an excess amount of proteins to be produced, which inflame the skin. This is known as an autoimmune reaction and causes the symptoms of lichen planus .

Reaction to medication

A reaction to certain medications is another possible cause of lichen planus. For example:

  • gold injections these are disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) that are sometimes injected into the muscles of people with Arthritis to help reduce inflammation and painful joints
  • antimalarial tablets these help treat and prevent malaria (a serious tropical disease spread by mosquitoes)
Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 24 Jun 2016