Lichen Planus | Overview


What is lichen planus?

Lichen planus is a condition that causes purple or reddish-purple bumps that may be itchy to form on your skin. The bumps have flat tops and are uneven in shape. If you look at the bumps closely, you might see white scales or flakes on them.

Lichen planus commonly affects the inner wrists, the forearms and the ankles. It may also affect the scalp, the nails, the inside of the mouth, the genitals and the anus. On the scalp, lichen planus may cause hair loss. Lichen planus of the nails can cause brittle or split nails. In the mouth, it looks like lacy white patches on the inside of the cheeks or on the tongue. Lichen planus of the mouth, genitals or anus can cause soreness and a burning sensation. Sometimes lichen planus affects areas of skin where you had a cut or burn.

Men and women can get lichen planus. It may affect people of any age, but it is more common in middle-aged adults.


Lichen Planus by R Katta, M.D. (American Family Physician June 01, 2000,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 06/00