Lichen Planus | Treatment


How is lichen planus treated?

There is no cure for lichen planus, but medicine can relieve the itching and help the rash get better. If your itching is very bad, your doctor may suggest an antihistamine (one brand name: Benadryl).

Most of the time, the bumps caused by lichen planus go away without any treatment after about a year. If your lichen planus is severe or if you have many bumps, your doctor may prescribe corticosteroid pills.

Corticosteroid gels and ointments are used to treat lichen planus of the genitals or anus and lichen planus of the mouth if symptoms are severe. If you have lichen planus of the mouth and your symptoms are mild, you may not need any treatment. Or your doctor may recommend a mouth rinse to relieve any discomfort caused by mouth sores.

Corticosteroids have many side effects, so be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully when taking these medicines.

Light therapy (also called PUVA) can also be used in the treatment of lichen planus. Or, you could take a pill with a retinoid in it. Retinoids have many side effects. You have to have regular blood tests while you take this medicine.

Lichen planus of the scalp must be treated right away or the hair may never grow back.


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

Written by editorial staff

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