How are the oral mucosal lesions of lichen planus characterized?

Updated: Sep 15, 2020
  • Author: Jaisri R Thoppay, DDS, MBA, MS; Chief Editor: Jeff Burgess, DDS, MSD  more...
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Oral mucosal lesions are variable and present as white striations (Wickham striae), white papules, white plaques, erythema (mucosal atrophy), erosions (shallow ulcers), or blisters. The lesions predominantly affect the buccal mucosa, tongue, and gingivae, although other oral sites are occasionally involved. The lesions are usually bilateral but may be unilateral.

The lesions may appear as a mixture of clinical subtypes. For example, white streaks and gray streaks may form a linear or reticular pattern on an erythematous background. Alternatively, a central area of shallow ulceration (erosion) may have a yellowish surface (fibrinous exudate) surrounded by an area of erythema.

In most patients, telltale white striations or papules are evident on the buccal mucosa or on the lateral margin of the tongue, either alone or in combination with other lesions.

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