Nonneoplastic disorders
Lichen planus

Author: Monika Roychowdhury, M.D. (see Authors page)

Revised: 3 October 2017, last major update March 2013

Copyright: (c) 2002-2017,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Vulva lichen planus [title]

Cite this page: Roychowdhury, M. Lichen planus. website. Accessed October 20th, 2018.
Definition / general
  • Also known as Wickham striae, an inflammatory autoimmune disorder involving keratinized and mucosal surfaces
  • Symptoms: white, lacy, reticular lesion, itching, burning, postcoital bleeding, dyspareunia and pain (University of Michigan: Vulva - Lichen Planus [Accessed 3 October 2017])
  • Itching causes hyperkeratosis
  • Chronic, recurring, relapsing, involves the vagina in up to 70% of patients (can result in friable hemorrhagic tissue causing yellowish discharge)
  • Rarely have oral lesions (resulting in vulvovaginal - gingival syndrome)
  • Due to low risk of squamous cell carcinoma, examine patients regularly, biopsy persistent lesions
  • Overall rare, incidence peaks between ages 30 - 60
Clinical features
Clinical images

Images hosted on other servers:

Glassy, reticulated, white papules and plaques

Extensive erosion and ulceration

Microscopic (histologic) description
  • Lymphocytic infiltrate (without plasma cells) with lichenoid pattern involving superficial dermis and extending into basilar and parabasilar epithelium
  • Liquefaction necrosis and colloid bodies may be present within basal epithelial cells
  • Epithelium may have prominent acanthosis with prominent granular layer and hyperkeratosis
  • In older lesions, acanthosis may be absent and epithelium may be thinned with loss of rete ridges
  • Ulceration and bullae may occur in severe lesions
  • In nonkeratinized epithelium of vestibule, inflammatory infiltrate may contain plasma cells; hyperkeratosis and prominent granular layer are usually absent
Microscopic (histologic) images

Images hosted on other servers:

Dense, band-like dermal inflammation

Oral lichen planus

Differential diagnosis