Lichen planus occurs more often in women than in men and most often in people over age 50.
No one is sure what causes lichen planus. Some people appear to have reactions to medicines. Others develop it from reactions to flavorings, such as cinnamon. In some cases, lichen planus may be linked to hepatitis C. Stress often makes the symptoms worse.
People who have lichen planus in their mouths may be more likely to develop oral cancer. They have a 1% to 2% chance of developing a type of cancer called oral squamous cell cancer. Anyone with lichen planus in his or her mouth should be examined every 6 months to 12 months due to this chance of cancer.
The papular, lacey and plaquey types of lichen planus tend to be painless. The other types are often painful. It is common for a person to have more than one type.
About one-third of the time, people with lichen planus in the mouth also have lichen planus on their skin. Skin lesions are flat and purplish. They have a scaly texture. The lesions can be itchy.
American Academy of Family Physicians
Consumer Information Site
11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
Leawood, KS 66211-2680