CONSENSUS DEVELOPMENT CONFERENCE
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Update on oral lichen planus: etiopathogenesis and management.

Lichen planus (LP) is a relatively common disorder of the stratified squamous epithelia, which is, in many ways, an enigma. This paper is the consensus outcome of a workshop held in Switzerland in 1995, involving a selection of clinicians and scientists with an interest in the condition and its management. The oral (OLP) eruptions usually have a distinct clinical morphology and characteristic distribution, but OLP may also present a confusing array of patterns and forms, and other disorders may clinically simulate OLP. Lesions may affect other mucosae and/or skin. Lichen planus is probably of multifactorial origin, sometimes induced by drugs or dental materials, often idiopathic, and with an immunopathogenesis involving T-cells in particular. The etiopathogenesis appears to be complex, with interactions between and among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors, but much has now been clarified about the mechanisms involved, and interesting new associations, such as with liver disease, have emerged. The management of lichen planus is still not totally satisfactory, and there is as yet no definitive treatment, but there have been advances in the control of the condition. There is no curative treatment available; immunomodulation, however, can control the condition. Based on the observed increased risk of malignant development, OLP patients should be offered regular follow-up examination from two to four times annually and asked to report any changes in their lesions and/or symptoms. Follow-up may be particularly important in patients with atrophic/ulcerative/erosive affections of the tongue, the gingiva, or the buccal mucosa. Much more research is required into the genetic and environmental aspects of lichen planus, into the premalignant potential, and into the possible associations with chronic liver, and other disorders. More clinical studies are required into the possible efficacy of immunomodulatory drugs such as pentoxifylline and thalidomide.

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