Lichen planus is a non-infectious, itchy rash that can affect many areas of the body.

Affected areas caninclude the:

  • arms, legs and trunk
  • mouth (oral lichen planus)
  • nails and scalp
  • vulva, vagina and penis

However, the condition isn't infectious and doesn't usually run in families. It can't be passed on to other people, including sexual partners.

Oral lichen planus is often diagnosed by a dentist during routine dental check-ups.

It's more common in adults over the age of 40.

Lichen planus of the skin affects men and women equally. However, oral lichen planus is more common in women. The mouth is affected in around 50% of all cases of lichen planus (oral lichen planus).

Treating lichen planus

There's no single treatment that can cure lichen planus completely. However, treatments are availableto help manage the symptoms and make living with it easier. For example, steroid creams or ointments are often used to help relieve the itch and control the rash.

Most cases of lichen planus of the skin clear up on their own withinsix to nine months. The rash rarely lasts longer than 18 months.However, oral lichen planus and lichen planus that affects the genital area may be more persistent.

Readmoreabout how lichen planus is treated .

Erosive lichen planus

Erosive lichen planus is a rare form of lichen planus that can last a long time. It causes painful ulcers to develop in the mouth and in the genital areas of bothmales and females.

In some cases, long-term erosive lichen planus can increase the chance ofsome types of cancer developing.

Read our page on complications of lichen planus for more information about erosive lichen planus.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 24 Jun 2016