Lichen planus

Lichen planus is a rash that can affect different parts of your body, including the inside of your mouth. See a GP if you think you might have it.

Check if it's lichen planus

The main symptoms of lichen planus include:

You may only have 1 of these symptoms.

Lichen planus on your skin can be very itchy, but not always.

Lichen planus on the inside of the wrist of a person with white skin.
Lichen planus often appears as purple-red blotches on the inside of your wrist.
Lichen planus on the inside of the arm of a person with black skin.
Lichen planus can appear as a rash on the inside of your arm.
White patches of lichen planus in the mouth of someone with white skin.
White patches in your mouth may be a symptom of lichen planus.
If you're not sure it's lichen planus
Conditions similar to lichen planus
Symptoms Possible cause

Red, flaky, crusty patches, often on elbows or knees


Raised, red, scaly patches on the body

Pityriasis rosea

Itching and white patches on the vulva

Lichen sclerosus

Ring-like red patch anywhere on the body


Itchy, dry, cracked, sore and red skin


Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • you think you have lichen planus

Treatments for lichen planus

Lichen planus on your skin usually gets better on its own in about 9 to 18 months.

Creams and ointments from a GP can help control the rash and ease itching.

If creams and ointments do not work, or you have severe lichen planus, steroid tablets or treatment with a special kind of light (light therapy) can help.

Lichen planus in your mouth can last for several years. Mouthwashes and sprays from a GP can help ease symptoms like burning or sore gums.

You cannot catch lichen planus and it does not usually come back once it's cleared up.

How to ease lichen planus at home

There are things you can do to help ease lichen planus symptoms at home. These will depend on which area of your body is affected.

Lichen planus on the skin

If you have lichen planus on your skin:

Lichen planus on the genitals

If you have lichen planus on your genitals:

Lichen planus in the mouth

If you have lichen planus in your mouth:

Page last reviewed: 2 August 2023
Next review due: 2 August 2026