Lichen Planus is a chronic, non-infectious, inflammatory condition of the skin and mucous membranes. It is an autoimmune disease in which the immune system cannot differentiate between its own cells and foreign cells, hence it mistakenly starts attacking its own normal cells.
Role Of Homeopathy In Lichen Planus
Homeopathy helps in treating all types of Lichen Planus in a very effective manner. Since homeopathic medicines are completely natural, they correct the disordered immune system without suppressing it, in a harmless way. While working on the immune system, they also help in treating the skin lesions of LP and the pigmentation associated with it. Lichen Planus is a complex disorder and should not be mistaken as mere hyperpigmentation.
Conventional method: The conventional system of medicine does not have much to offer in cases of LP. In order to control the immune-mediated responses, immuno suppressants like corticosteroids are prescribed, orally or topically. It is suppression of the problem, rather than a solution. As soon as these steroids are discontinued, the improvement stops and one finds oneself back at square one.
Top Natural Homeopathic Remedies for Lichen Planus
The main medicines to treat Lichen Planus are Sulphur, Arsenicum Album, Merc Sol, Sulph Iod, Kali Iod and Anthrakokali.
1. Sulphur – Best Remedy For Cutaneous Lichen Planus
Sulphur is the most efficient and widely used natural medicine to treat various kinds of skin disorders especially in cutaneous lichen planus, when the eruptions tend to increase rapidly and have already worsened due to local application of other ointments. Patients having cutaneous LP with papules and extreme skin dryness, who have unhealthy skin, respond very well to Sulphur. Extreme itching in the eruptions is best treated by this remedy. Scratching is marked and provides some relief from itching. In such cases, a burning sensation may follow scratching. The itching generally worsens toward night and when getting warm in bed.
When and How to use Sulphur?
Sulphur helps in taking care of the dry patches and relieves itching in cases of LP. It acts in all potencies, from lowest to highest but in cases of LP, it should always be given in 30C or less to begin with.
Note The use of Sulphur should always be done under the supervision of a physician.
2. Arsenicum Album – For Eruptions That Are Scaly And Itchy
Arsenicum Album proves to be very efficient in classic cases of Lichen Planus, with blue eruptions, that are dry, rough and scaly in appearance. Scaling is intense in such cases. The eruptions can be extremely dry, causing a lot of itching, forcing the sufferer to scratch constantly. The more one scratches, the worse it gets, especially at night. The medicine Arsenicum Album is also indicated in the later stages when the plaques have resolved leaving the underlying skin hard. It is also helpful in cases of LP of the scalp when there are thick scabs on the scalp.
When and How to use Arsenicum Album?
Arsenicum Album is used to treat active eruptions when scaling and itching is marked. It is also used when the skin has hardened after the eruptions subside. It is usually indicated in higher potencies, 200C or more, with infrequent repetitions.
3. Sulphur Iod – Top Treatment For Lichen Planus Of Face, Arms
Sulphur Iod is considered the best natural medicine for Lichen Planus when the face and arms are covered with papular eruptions, with constant itching. When indicated, the arms are covered with an itchy rash. Sulphur Iod helps treat cases of obstinate LP.
When and How to use Sulph Iod?
Sulph Iod is given when the face and arms are affected with LP. It is used in ‘x’ potencies in such cases, 3x is a good enough potency to begin with.
Note Sulph Iod is a different remedy and should not be mistaken as Sulphur.
4. Merc Sol – One Of The Best Remedies For Mucosal Lichen Planus
Merc Sol is one of the top natural remedies for Mucosal Lichen Planus, especially oral Lichen Planus. Merc Sol is an ideal remedy when the main complaint of the patient is irregular ulcers inside the cheeks. The edges are not well defined. The cheeks give a very unhealthy and dirty appearance. In addition to these ulcers, there is increased saliva and bad odour emanates from the mouth.
When and How to use Merc Sol?
Merc Sol is given in cases of Oral LP when there is intense ulceration along with burning in the mouth. Being a strong remedy, it is preferred in low potencies like 30C.
5. Kali Iodatum – For Lichen Planus Of Legs
Kali Iodatum helps cases of LP when there are purple patches present on the body, especially legs. These eruptions are generally dry and papular. In such patients, itching increases mainly at night or from heat, even from the heat of bedcovers.
When and How to use Kali Iod?
Kali Iod is used when LP mainly affects legs but is not necessarily limited to it. Kali Iod is used in ‘x’ potencies, or sometimes in the tincture form too.
6. Anthrakokali – For Lichen Planus With Eruptions On Hand, Feet
Anthrakokali is a very rare natural medicine that can help a number of Lichen Planus patients. Being rare does not mean that this natural remedy has a less powerful effect than other well-known medicines. Anthrakokali shows its effect when papular eruptions are prominently present on hands and feet. The papules may also cover scrotum in males. There is intense itching in the papular eruptions. This medicine also gives good results in the Lichen Planus cases where the dominant site is skin over the tibia (the bone in the front part of a leg).
When and How to use Anthrakokali?
Anthrakokali is given for dry eruptions on hands or feet. It is used in a trituration form, mainly 6x potency.
What Causes LP?
Lichen Planus is a cell-mediated immune response of unknown origin. It may accompany other diseases of altered immunity, such as ulcerative colitis, alopecia areata, vitiligo, dermatomyositis, morphea, lichen sclerosis, myasthenia gravis, etc. Although the cause of Lichen Planus is usually unknown, some possible causes include:
1. Genetic predisposition
2. Physical and emotional stress
3. Injury to skin: Lichen Planus often appears where the skin has been scratched or after surgery (Kobner phenomenon)
4. Localized skin diseases, such as Herpes Zoster
5. Systemic viral infection, such as Hepatitis C
6. Certain medicines, including some drugs used to treat high BP, diabetes, heart disease and malaria; gold, quinine, quinidine, and others can cause a lichenoid rash.
7. Contact allergy, such as metal fillings in oral lichen planus (rare) and color photographic developers
Types & Symptoms of Lichen Planus:
The symptoms of Lichen Planus depend on the parts affected. The main types along with the symptoms are:
1. Cutaneous Lichen Planus:
The term cutaneous means ‘skin’. This is the classical type of Lichen Planus, when the skin, nails or hair get affected. The symptoms can range from zero to intense itching, along with the following:
1. Flat-topped, purple-coloured, shining papules(hard elevation without fluid) on the skin, sometimes with white, lacy lines.
2. The main sites are the inner forearm, wrist, legs, ankles, and face.
3. It can be of the size of head of a pin to a centimeter.
4. The papules may appear in rings or in a line. The lesions are typically bilateral and symmetrical, meaning they are similarly placed on both sides of the body.
5. Plaques resolve after a few months to leave a greyish-brown rash that can take a year or more to fade away.
6. The nails, when affected can either become thin, brittle or ridged OR dark, thick, or raised. They can sometimes shed off or stop growing.
7. On the scalp, red patches can form around clusters of hair and can also lead to irreversible hair loss.
2. Mucosal Lichen Planus:
When the innermost mucus secreting layer of the body gets affected, it is termed as Mucosal Lichen Planus. The main areas to get affected are the mucosa of the mouth (Oral LP) and genitals. These parts can be affected individually or together at the same time. When the mucosa gets affected, the presenting symptoms based on the location are:
A. Oral LP:
1. Mild Oral LP does not cause a lot of burning or discomfort
2. A whitish pattern on the gums, tongue or teeth
3. Red or white patches in the mouth
4. Painful red gums that may bleed
5. Burning in the mouth, causing difficulty in eating or drinking
B. LP in males, affecting penis:
1. Purple or white ring-shaped patches around the penis, generally non-itchy.
2. Formation of flat-topped papules on the penis that are a little shiny
C. LP in females, affecting the vagina and vulva:
1. The vulva (external genitals) can be white, red or pale in color.
2. There can be a lot of burning and soreness in the affected areas.
3. Sticky yellow or white vaginal discharge, which can also be bloodstained
4. Painful sexual intercourse, when the vagina gets affected.
5. Narrowing of the opening of vagina due to scar tissue formation
3. Lichen Planus Pigmentosus (LPP)
1. Lichen Planus Pigmentosus is a rare form of Lichen Planus.
2. Mainly found on the areas exposed to the Sun, like forehead, neck, and temples
3. Present as brown or gray patches on the skin
4. It can also develop on areas where the skin touches or rubs together, for example: groin
5. LPP can be triggered by viral infections, UV light or local applications on skin
Management Of LP
Some dos and don’ts that are generally advised to those affected with LP are:
1. Vitamin D supplementation in the deficient: Studies have shown a strong relationship between Vitamin D deficiency and autoimmune disorders. So it is advised to get your Vitamin D levels checked and appropriate supplements to be taken if there is a deficiency. To be noted that Vitamin D supplements should not be taken without getting the blood values checked so as to prevent its toxicity.
2. Use of moisturizing lotions to tackle dryness
3. Sunscreen lotions to be used every 2-3 hours to prevent further pigmentation and triggers.
4. Applying cold compression for burning of skin
5. In cases of Oral LP, smoking to be avoided. Consuming highly spicy or acidic food can also worsen the symptoms so should be avoided.
6. Avoid any specific triggering factors, if known.
The cause of LP is unknown. But since it is an autoimmune disease, what is happening is a T-cell-mediated response at the basal (deepest) layer of the skin. The body mistakenly invites cytokines (that usually control the growth and activity of the cells), which are responsible for cellular death at the deepest layer of the skin. This further results in disruption of melanin (skin pigment) production, hence the purple pigmentation and further thickening of the skin takes place.