ZocdocAnswers"What are the long term concerns associated with Lichen Planus?”

Question

"What are the long term concerns associated with Lichen Planus?”

“I am a 34 year old research chemist. In the past few years I’ve developed a rash in a number of regions on my body. My dermatologist identified this rash as Lichen Planus, and let me know there is no cure for it, but that it usually goes away. As It has been a few years now and I continue to have Lichen Planus, I’ve become interested in if there are any concerns associated with long term persistence of this condition.”

Answer

Yes, there definitely are, and it is important to have these lesions followed up routinely if you are not actively treating them (there are treatments, although no great cure) and being seen by a dermatologist for that reason. In addition to being unsightly, these lesions can interfere with daily life in other ways. While you do not mention involvement of your mouth or tongue, it is not uncommon for the inflammation of chronic lichen planus to be the first sign of changes that eventually lead along a road to cancer of the oral cavity. As you are aware, any chronic inflammation will cause alterations in the normal cell cycle. In the mouth, these changes can then lead to unregulated cell growth, which is a perfect setup for the development of cancer. Additionally, other changes that could be premalignant changes often masquerade as lichen planus, and can remain dormant for some time in that state. Now, in your question, you mention that you are following up with a dermatologist, which is entirely appropriate. Please continue to see him or her as per their recommendations. Additionally, routine surveillance of your mouth with an otolaryngologist would be recommended if there are any findings in that area.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.