Lichen Planus and Skin Health: Diagnosis, Triggers, and Skincare Strategies

Lichen Planus is known to be a chronic inflammatory skin condition. It happens to affect not just the skin but also some other parts, such as mucous membranes, hair, and nails. Common symptoms of lichen planus are itchy, flat-topped, and purplish-coloured lesions that can appear anywhere on the body. It can affect in various forms that include oral lichen planus, which primarily affects the mouth. In some cases, lichen planus can also affect the oral cavity, thereby leading to oral lichen planus. It is very important to understand its symptoms, diagnosis, what are the factors that trigger lichen planus, and appropriate skincare strategies for managing this condition. In this blog, we will explore the diagnosis, common triggers, symptoms, and effective skincare strategies for managing lichen planus and promoting overall skin health.

Understanding Lichen Planus:

Lichen planus is a difficult and autoimmune condition that happens when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s cells, thereby causing inflammation. Although the exact cause for this condition has not been discovered, it is believed to involve a combination of genetic predisposition, immune system dysfunction, and certain triggers. This condition can be characterized by itchy, flat-topped, and purplish-coloured lesions or patches on the skin, and, in some cases, it can appear anywhere on the body.

Diagnosis of Lichen Planus

This is one of those skin diseases that require an individual’s body to go through a thorough examination of the affected areas and may sometimes require a skin biopsy for confirmation. Lichen Planus has no uniform appearance and may vary, it often presents as flat-topped, shiny, purplish, or reddish-coloured bumps on the skin or erosive lesions in the mouth. It is pivotal to seek medical treatment in this situation and consult a dermatologist or oral specialist for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan.

Common Triggers and Factors Causing Lichen Planus:

  1. Autoimmune Factors:

Lichen planus is a chronic inflammatory disorder that is believed to have an autoimmune component. In autoimmune diseases, the body’s immune system mistakenly identifies its healthy cells as foreign or harmful and mounts an immune response against them. In the case of lichen planus, the immune system targets the skin cells, leading to inflammation and characteristic skin lesions.

Here’s how the autoimmune component is thought to be involved in lichen planus:

  1. T-cell involvement: T cells are a type of white blood cell that plays a crucial role in the immune response. In lichen planus, it is believed that certain T cells become activated and infiltrate the skin. These T cells release chemical signals called cytokines, which contribute to inflammation and the destruction of healthy skin cells.
  2. Autoantibodies: In some cases of lichen planus, autoantibodies may be produced. Autoantibodies are known to be those antibodies that happen to target the body’s tissues. In lichen planus, these autoantibodies may bind to components of the skin cells, thereby triggering an immune response and causing inflammation.
  3. Damage to basal keratinocytes: The immune response in lichen planus can specifically target the basal layer of the epidermis, where the melanocytes and keratinocytes reside. The immune cells release inflammatory substances that damage the basal keratinocytes, thereby leading to the characteristic skin lesions seen in lichen planus.
  4. Genetic predisposition: There may be a genetic predisposition to developing lichen planus, as certain genes involved in immune regulation and cell signalling have been associated with the condition. However, more research is required to understand the genetic factors that could be responsible for the development of the skin condition.
  1. Stress:

Stress plays a crucial role in diminishing both the physical and mental well-being of any individual. Here also both emotional and physical stress is an accountable factor in deteriorating the condition of Lichen Planus. It is quite beneficial to manage stress by counting on relaxation techniques, seeking to support, and practising exercises. 

  1. Medications:

Certain medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), beta-blockers, and certain antibiotics, have been associated with triggering lichen planus in some individuals.

  1. Allergens:

Lichen Planus can happen due to allergies or due to overexposure to certain metals, dyes, or chemicals. Identifying and regulating the use of these allergens can help manage the condition.

Treatment options for Lichen Planus:

While as of now Lichen planus is a non-curable disease but there are several treatment options available that help to alleviate the symptoms of it and control inflammation. The major focus is on bringing in more comfort and improving oral health. Here are some skincare approaches.

  1. Topical corticosteroids: Corticosteroid creams or ointments are often prescribed to reduce inflammation and itching associated with lichen planus. These medications help alleviate symptoms and promote healing of the affected areas.
  2. Immunosuppressants: In more severe cases, oral or systemic immunosuppressant medications may be prescribed to suppress the immune response and control the inflammatory process.
  3. Oral medications: Oral antihistamines, retinoids, or other medications may be used to manage itching and reduce inflammation.

Skincare strategies for Lichen Planus:

In addition to medical treatment, it is imperative to follow a proper routine for the healthy condition of the skin. Incorporating a definitive skincare routine will not only improve skin health but also help alleviate the Lichen Planus symptoms. Here are some skin strategies that can help:

  1. Gentle Skincare routine:

A gentle skincare routine can do wonders, using a good quality mild cleanser, fragrance-free moisturizing products, gentle moisturizer, and toner can help keep the skin smooth and hydrated. It will aid reduce itchiness and irritation. Pat dry gently and avoid rubbing hardly.

  1. Sun Protection:

In general, also sun protection holds great importance. Using sunscreen with the right SPF can help keep skin healthy and protected. Protecting the skin from excessive sun exposure is crucial, as lichen planus lesions may be more susceptible to sunburn.

  1. Avoid Triggers:

It is important to understand what is making the skin condition grow bad. Hence identify the potential triggers such as dyes, medications, or allergens that could be a cause in elevating the symptoms of Lichen Planus. Regulating or avoiding the use of these triggers can be beneficial.

  1. Oral Hygiene for Oral Lichen Planus:

It is prominent to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing regularly at least twice a day with a toothbrush, using mild toothpaste. One should try and avoid using harsh mouthwashes that may exacerbate the condition.

Lichen planus can be a challenging condition to manage, but with proper diagnosis, understanding triggers, and implementing effective skincare strategies, individuals can find relief from symptoms and improve their overall skin health. It is essential to work closely with healthcare professionals to determine the most suitable treatment approach for each case. By incorporating appropriate skincare practices and making lifestyle adjustments, individuals with lichen planus can successfully navigate the condition and minimize its impact on their daily lives.