If you have ever heard of the skin condition lichen planus, you might be forgiven for not truly understanding what it is and how it affects you. It is a rash that can appear in strategic places across the body. Small flat bumps appear on the skin and these can be very itchy. The cause is actually not known but the condition is considered to be connected in some way to the immune system.
It may be itchy but it is a non-infectious rash that affects adults in the main. It is not thought to be hereditary but family members do sometimes experience the rash too. Slightly raised, purple/red spots appear on the skin in scattered rash format and if you look closely, you will see that there are some irregular white streaks that affect some of the spots. Most commonly, the spots are on the lower back, on the wrists and ankles but the rash can appear everywhere.
If it appears on the scalp it can be responsible for hair loss which can be a real cause for concern, it can also damage the nail plate and cause a thinning and grooving effect on the nail, but there are varying types of lichen planus that also affects the skin on the shins and can even appear in the armpits which can be very uncomfortable. The effects of this condition can be far reaching as it can also occur in the mouth quite commonly, but men can also experience the spots on the penis, with purple-coloured ring shaped patches. It can affect the genital area for women but this is far less common. Genital lichen planus fortunately is not itchy.
Diagnosis is fairly easy but it is best to always check with a doctor to avoid confusion. This condition usually clears up within 18 months, but it can recur again even some years later. There is no cure for lichen planus but treatment may ease it, the condition does however, usually improve by itself.
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