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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Lichen Planus
September 2001

Q. My doctor says I have lichen planus in the mouth. I smoke and I have a few drinks on the weekend. Does this affect my chances of getting better? I have had it about 1 year now. It has also affected my arm, which has healed quite a bit.

A. Lichen planus is an inflammatory skin condition causing reddish-purple bumps that can occur anywhere on the body or in the mouth. The cause is not known. Genetic factors may be involved as several cases may occur within a family. Diagnosis is made by clinical exam, and a biopsy (tissue sample) may be needed for confirmation. The condition affects men and women and usually begins around age 40. Treatment is usually begun with topical steroids, but other medication may be needed. A certain number of cases have associated liver problems so this should be investigated when the diagnosis is made.




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