DEAR DR. GOTT: I have lichen planus with white spots in my mouth and blisters on my legs. This has been occuring on and off for two or three years. Is there any cure for this autoimmune disease?
DEAR READER: The exact cause for this annoying condition is unknown, but it is thought to be related to allergies from exposure to antibiotics, other medications, hepatitis C, iodides, diuretics, chemical substances such as compounds in gold rings or bracelets, and more.
Mild symptoms may not require any treatment. More complex cases generally respond to antihistamines, topical or oral corticosteroids, ointments or creams, lidocaine mouthwashes and medications to suppress the immune system. Lichen planus may respond to treatment over time but may also wax and wane for years. Be sure to see your physician or dentist for regular exams, since long-standing mouth ulcers can develop into oral cancer.