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What Is Lichen Nitidus And What Causes It?

An abnormal inflammatory activity in the cells of the skin can cause a rare skin disease known as lichen nitidus. This appears as small, glistening bumps on the skin's surface. These bumps are skin coloured. Read on to know more about this rare disease, its symptoms and treatment.

What Is Lichen Nitidus?

This is a chronic inflammatory disease which appears as shiny, flesh-coloured (sometimes reddish brown) discrete papules. Against a dark skin, these appear hypopigmented. This disease mostly affects children and young adults.

The bumps caused on the skin are painless but can get very itchy at times. Dermatologists sometimes refer to this skin disease as mini lichen planus. Most of the time, this disease clears up on its own. This is not an infectious disease.


What Are The Causes Of Lichen Nitidus?

The exact cause of this disease is not known. This is not a contagious condition. Papules appear as a response to inflammation that is controlled by white blood cells. These are called T lymphocytes. The ideal responsibility of these cells is to heal diseases or injuries. However, T-lymphocytes appear to be activated in case of lichen nitidus.


Symptoms Of Lichen Nitidus

It is basically identified by the clusters of small, glistening bumps or papules. The symptoms of this disease are based on the characteristics of these tiny bumps.

• They are flat-topped and round in shape.

• The size of the bumps can range from pinpoint to a pinhead size.

• In some cases, these bumps can begin to itch intensely.

• They usually appear in line where there is a crease or constant pressure on the skin. These bumps can be found on the folds of the skin - such as inside the wrist or elbow.

• These bumps are skin coloured. People with fair skin might find these bumps to appear pinkish. People with dark skin might find these bumps to be slightly lighter than their normal skin colour.

• These bumps can be found to be located on the abdomen, chest, genital areas, arms, etc. They rarely occur on the soles of the feet or fingernails.

• Sometimes these bumps' appearance clears up from one site but appears on another site of the body.


Does Lichen Nitidus Go Away?

Most of the time, this disease heals on its own without the requirement of any specific treatment. This disease is self-limited and asymptomatic. However, if the itching gets severe or this disease begins to interfere with your daily life activities, you might want to visit a dermatologist.

This disease is harmless otherwise and does not cause any long-term skin problems. Nevertheless, a person might feel embarrassed due to the visibility of these bumps.

This disease can be linked to other diseases such as:


• Eczema:

This is an inflammatory skin condition. This disease is also known as atopic dermatitis. Characteristics of this disease are dry rashes that are itchy. The rashes usually appear on the face, behind the knees, on the hands/feet and inside the elbow.


• Tuberculosis:

This is an infectious disease that affects the lungs.


• Lichen planus:

This is an inflammatory condition. It is characterized by the appearance of purple or red coloured flat-topped bumps that are itchy in nature. These appear as bumps on the skin or as white, lacy patches on the mucous membranes of the mouth.


• Crohn’s disease:

This disease refers to the inflammation of the digestive system's lining. This disease causes severe diarrhoea, malnutrition and abdominal pain.


• Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis:

This is an inflammatory disease that causes swelling and stiffness in the joints along with persistent pain.


How Is Lichen Nitidus Treated?

Although this disease does not require any specific treatment and heals on its own, you might want to see a doctor if rashes like tiny bumps appear on your skin for no particular reason. These could be due to an allergic reaction. A prompt diagnosis would help prevent future complications.

If this disease is accompanied by pus oozing out of the bumps or high fever, then it could hint at something serious and would require immediate medical attention.

A doctor can easily diagnose this illness by closely looking at the bumps using a magnifying glass. At times, thorough examination might involve taking a small tissue (process of biopsy) and then looking at it under a microscope.

In case the bumps get so severe that it stops you from performing any activity, then your doctor could try glucocorticoids. Oral glucocorticoids may be tried if the disease is symptomatic and extensive in nature.

If the appearance of the bumps gets worse with humidity or sunlight, then air conditioning or just cool air can help relieve the discomfort and swelling.

Phototherapy can clear up lichen nitidus. Medications that in general help with this condition are antihistamines, a topical drug called tacrolimus, a synthetic version of vitamin A (retinoid), etc.

Read more about: hand disease
Story first published: Friday, September 28, 2018, 13:25 [IST]
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