What is your experience with Lichen Planus?
May 2, 2009 5:23 AM   Subscribe

What is your experience with Lichen Planus?

I was recently diagnosed (via biopsy) with the skin condition Lichen Planus, although with a very atypical presentation. The dermatologist recommended topical Clobetasol, but I declined treatment because I've had very negative experiences with the side effects of topical steroids in the past, and because I'm concerned with my toddler son coming into contact with the Clobetasol while its on my skin. Everything I've read says that it will go away on its own, although it might take a couple of years. While the rash is ugly, it doesn't itch and its covered by my clothing when I'm in public. However, I noticed yesterday that its starting to spread again (after more than a year) and so I'm rethinking my decision to avoid the Clobetasol.

I'm wondering if other folks here have experience with Lichen Planus, especially where the rash did not itch and the mouth or scalp were not involved. Did you treat it with steroids? How long did you need to use them before you saw improvement? Did you experience serious side effects from the treatment (esp. weight gain or mood changes)? If you decided not to treat, did the condition go away on its own? Have you had another outbreak? Is there any chance that this could have been misdiagnosed despite the biopsy? (My case looks nothing like anything I've found on the web.)

My understanding from everything I've read is that this is categorized as an autoimmune disorder, and that I'll be living with it for the rest of my life. I've also come across some stuff on the web that correlates Lichen Planus with thyroid disorders. Is this theory cutting edge, or bunk?

Any thoughts or experiences would be appreciated.
posted by anastasiav to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Wow, good timing for me, I just got my second outbreak about a month or two ago and I'm bumming out about it. Unfortunately, the first available appointment with my dermatologist is not until June, so I can't offer any advice yet in terms of treatment. But as for my experience with it: my first outbreak was ten years ago, when I was in my early 20s, and it was only on my lower back, which I understand is atypical. It went away on its own after only six months, much to my relief. I don't think I received any treatment for it, unless I am forgetting.

This latest outbreak is on the inside of my wrists and lower arms, and a little on my trunk. It's very slight (I could count the number of dots), but it still upsets me (could it get worse?). The weird thing about it is it seemed to start when my cat scratched me a few times... The scratches turned into the lichen planus rash and then I got more of it. I didn't realize that could happen, although I guess if it's an autoimmune thing that makes sense. I am now totally paranoid about getting scratched.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing other responses. I'm sorry I don't have much info for you, but you certainly have my empathy.
posted by amro at 6:13 AM on May 2, 2009

I should add that although I can't recall getting any treatment ten years ago, I did go to the derm and the rash was biopsied, which is how I got my diagnosis.
posted by amro at 6:14 AM on May 2, 2009

Oh, and mine doesn't itch either. Thank goodness.
posted by amro at 6:20 AM on May 2, 2009

Mine itched like a son of a bitch. Like yours it was atypical presentation. The rash covered my lower back. My dermatologist only diagnosed it correctly after a biopsy because of the unusual location. I used topical steroids to keep it at bay. Without them it would flare up and itch like mad. Unfortunately the steroids never made it go away completely so my back always looked like a pepperoni pizza.

Thankfully, after 15 months of this it just went away on its own. I didn't seem to have any adverse reactions to the steroids, but they did worry me since they were incredibly strong and I was using them for way longer than the recommended two-week maximum (6+ months, eek).

I still have some pimples and/or scarring that won't completely go away. My back doesn't scare children any more, though, so I think I'll be okay heading to the beach this year. :-)
posted by Khalad at 8:00 AM on May 2, 2009

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