Lichen Planus

ExitCare ImageLichen planus is a skin problem that causes redness, itching, swelling, and sores. Some common areas affected are the:

  • Vulva and vagina.

  • Gums and inside of the mouth.

  • Esophagus.

  • Scalp.

  • Skin of the arms (especially wrists), legs, chest, back, and abdomen.

  • Fingernails or toenails.


The cause is not known. It could be an autoimmune illness or an allergy. An autoimmune illness is one where your body attacks itself. Lichen planus is not passed from one person to another (not contagious). It can last for a long time. Affected children usually have a history of other family members with lichen planus.


  • Itching, which can be severe.

  • The vaginal area may be red, sore, raw, or have a burning feeling.

  • There may be pain or bleeding during sex.

  • Scarring may cause the vagina to become short, narrow, or even closed up.

  • The skin may have small reddish or purplish, flat-topped, round or irregularly shaped bumps.

  • There may be redness or white patches on the gums or tongue.

  • The nails may become thin, rough, or have ridges in them.

  • The eyes can rarely also be involved with pain, redness, or scarring.


Your caregiver will look for skin changes, changes inside your mouth, or vaginal discharge. Sometimes, a tissue sample (biopsy) may be sent for testing.


  • Your caregiver may order a cream (topical steroid) to be put on the sores.

  • You may be given medicine to take by mouth.

  • You may be treated by exposure to ultraviolet light.

  • Sores in the mouth may be treated with lozenges that you suck on like a cough drop.

  • If the vagina becomes too tight, you may be taught how to use a dilator to keep it open.


  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines as directed by your caregiver.

  • Keep the vaginal area as clean and dry as possible.


You develop increasing pain, swelling, or redness.