Lichen Planus Introduction
Lichen planus is a relatively common skin disease that comes in episodes lasting months to years. It can be said that it is caused by reaction in response to more than one provoking factor like stress, genetics, infective (viral hepatitis C) and immunologic (autoimmune), etc.
Lichen planus eruptions appears as shiny, flat-topped bumps having an angular shape. These bumps have a reddish-purplish color with a shiny cast with very fine scales. The disease can affect all over the body, but commonly affected areas are inside of the wrists and ankles, the lower legs, back, and neck. The mouth, genital region, hair and nails are affected in some individuals. Thick patches may occur, especially on the shins and is called as lichenified lesions
This disease occurs most often in men and women between the ages of 30 and 70 years. It is uncommon in the very young and elderly. All racial groups are equally affected by lichen planus.
At My Similia homeopathy we have treated hundreds of cases of lichen planus effectively. It is a privilege to announce that this is one of our special areas of treatment.
What is Lichen Planus?
The name essentially derives from the common lichen which is a slow growing plant present on the walls, rocks, and trees. Also, the second word planus refers to its presentation which is flat-topped or horny in appearance.
Lichen planus most commonly affects the skin. The other areas of involvement are oral cavity including tongue and gums, nails, genitals and scalp. All the stated areas may not be involved in the same patient at the same time. It has a tendency to relapse.
All over the world 1 – 2% of the population is affected with this condition. In general, both men and women are equally affected except in oral lichen planus where women are affected more. It is more commonly seen in people over the age of 40 years although it may affect at any age.
Lichen planus is a non-infectious disease that means it does not spread from person to person by contact. Lichen planus is not a type of cancer and it is not related to cancer in any way.
Signs and Symtoms of Lichen planus
The medical definition of Lichen planus:
It is defined as a skin disease characterized eruptions presenting as wide flat pimple or swelling (papule) covered by horny shining crusts, marked by intense itching and often accompanied with oral lesions.
Lichen planus can be easily differentiated from other skin diseases due to its unique presentation.
Sign and symptoms differ according to the areas it is affecting. Here we will cover lichen planus appearing on the skin which is the commonest site of appearance:
Lichen planus on the skin is characterized by extremely itchy rashes or bumps.
It develops as several small, scaly plaques with purplish red or purplish gray colored pigmentation. Sometimes it appears as tiny white lines running through the bumps.
The appearance of these plaques is shiny.
The size of an individual plaque varies from 2mm to 5mm.
In most of the cases, lichen planus spreads slowly except in few instances it may spread fast.
New lesion appearing after scratching or injury is a feature of lichen planus and is called as Koebner’s phenomenon.
Common sites of appearance are wrists, lower back, and ankles.
Presentation of lichen planus may differ from person to person as it may be scattered all over the body, linear (eruptions are present in line) or annular (eruptions are present only on the sun-exposed parts of the face, neck, and back of the hands).
Bumps appearing on the legs are usually darker and thick and is called as hypertrophic lichen planus. This type of lichen planus is more difficult to treat.
Diagnosing Lichen Planus
In majority of cases lichen planus is diagnosed by observing its clinical features. A biopsy may be required to confirm the diagnosis.
Biopsy shows following features:
Irregular and thickened epidermis with liquefaction, presence of degenerative skin cells, accumulation of inflammatory cells and melanin pigment below the epidermis.
Rarely patch tests may be required for patients with oral lichen planus affecting the gums, to assess for contact allergy to mercury.
Causes of Lichen Planus
The exact cause of lichen planus is not understood completely. It is termed as an autoimmune disorder where body’s immune system (T cells) attacks body’s own cells of the skin and mucous membrane causing an inflammatory reaction.
There is no known cause why and how this autoimmunity is triggered but a variety of factors contributes in triggering this autoimmunity such as follows:
Many of the patients having lichen planus show a family history of lichen planus or other autoimmune diseases such as diabetes, psoriasis, etc. However, it is not a rule to have the family history of autoimmune diseases.
One of the main triggering factors of lichen planus is long-term or deep rooted emotional stress. We have observed while case taking that some or the other emotional strain seem to be the triggering cause. The emotional strain may be present in the form of sadness, disappointments, difficult childhood, etc. Although this cause may not be present in each and every case.
Lichen planus can be triggered after any physical injury which triggers autoimmunity.
Local or systemic infections:
Local skin infections such as herpes zoster or systemic infections such as hepatitis C can act as triggering factor for lichen planus.
Contact with chemicals:
Exposure to metal filling can result in oral lichen planus. Exposure to photographic light or some metals may result in lichen planus although these cases are rare. Allergy to certain metals can also result in lichen planus but not proven completely yet.
Use of certain medicines triggers lichen planus and tends to continue even after discontinuation of those medicines.
- Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory medicines
- Antihypertensive medicines such as atenolol
- Metals used in the dental filling, etc.
Homeopathy Treatment for Lichen Planus
The main difference between the other treatments available for lichen planus and homeopathy is that homeopathic medicines acts curatively and at the level of immune system. Conventional medicines aims to suppress the immune system whereas homeopathy provides immune boosting medicines so as to fight the auto immunity. Homeopathic medicines may be termed as immuno corrective medicines.
Homeopathic treatment aims at reducing the active phase of lichen planus which takes care of the eruptions, burning and itching reduces and eruptions starts healing from within.
Homeopathic medicines needs to be continued in order to deal with relapses or recurrence. Continuous homeopathic medication will ensure that there are no further relapses and patients will have a long term symptom free period.
In oral lichen planus homeopathy treatment the symptoms of pain, burning, redness, blisters, sores, and ulcers are treated effectively. Once the active symptoms are reduced then the treatment aims at resolution of ulcers and avoiding the recurrence. Homeopathy treatment for oral lichen planus acts curatively and not just symptomatically.
As lichen planus eruptions starts healing it often leaves dark brown spots on the skin without any active symptoms. These spots may fade without treatment but homeopathic medicines helps in fastening the rate of healing as it may take very long time for the spots to fade away on its own.
Oral lichen planus requires longer treatment than lichen planus on the skin.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about Lichen Planus
I have lichen planus on arms and legs. What are the chances of spread to other parts?
Lichen planus is commonly seen on arms and legs and it can spread to other parts of the body. In few cases it affects nails and oral mucosa. Face is spared in most of the cases.
2) I have been diagnosed with oral lichen planus with no disease on skin. Is it possible and is it curable?
Yes a person may have only oral lichen planus. Oral lichen planus homeopathy treatment acts curatively.
3) I was told that my lichen planus triggered due to anti hypertensive medicines. Will it go away if I stop those medicines?
You need to change your anti hypertensive medicines. Stopping or changing medicines may not cure lichen planus. Separate treatment is required to cure lichen planus.
4) My lichen planus returns after I stop my medications containing local and oral steroids. What does this suggests? Is it really curable?
Cortisone based medicines gives temporary relief and has got few side effects. Lichen planus can be cured with homeopathic medicines.
5) Are there any side effects if I take homeopathy for long duration?
There are no side effects with homeopathic medicines. It can be safely taken for long duration.