Oral Lichen Planus (OLP) is a chronic inflammatory condition of the oral mucosa (membrane/lining inside your mouth). Anyone can get it, but it is more common in women over 40. It may appear as:
Doctors have not determined an exact cause for OLP, but we know it has something to do with the immune system, as white blood cells are activated in its presence. Findings suggest the body may be reacting to an antigen in the skin, as happens in allergic reactions. This might be an autoimmune or cell-mediated immune response; more research is needed to be sure. Genetics may also play a role in a person’s susceptibility. Other potential triggers include:
OLP is not contagious, so there’s no need to worry about passing it to others. Diagnosis of OLP requires assessment by a healthcare professional, who will often perform a biopsy of the tissue to have it analyzed.
Symptoms with OLP can range from barely noticeable to extremely painful depending on the severity of the condition. Typical symptoms include:
Complications from OLP can include scarring, anxiety/depression, weight loss, or secondary infections. There are reported cases of OLP leading to oral cancer, though the link is not yet definitive. If you suffer from oral lichen planus, regular cancer screenings are imperative.
While OLP cannot be cured, there are treatments that can reduce or eliminate discomfort and help keep it under control. In some cases, your doctor will prescribe topical corticosteroids such as Clobetasol Propionate; they might also prescribe systemic steroids in serious cases. Additionally, there are steps you can take on your own:
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