Lichen Nitidus: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Have you heard of lichen nitidus? It’s a rare skin disease that can cause itching. It can also spread from person to person if you’re not careful.

In this article, we’ll talk about what lichen nitidus. We’ll also discuss its causes, treatments, and symptoms.

What is Lichen Nitidus?

The University of Rochester’s Medical center defines lichen nitidus as “chronic inflammatory disease characterized by shiny, flat-topped, usually flesh-colored micropapules no larger than the head of a pin. Lesions are localized in the early stages, found chiefly on the lower abdomen, penis, and inner surface of the thighs. Distribution may become generalized as the disease progresses.”

Chronic inflammatory disease characterized by shiny, flat-topped, usually flesh-colored micropapules

The Mayo Clinic goes into a bit more detail. According to them, lichen nitidus is a pretty rare skin condition. Not only that but usually develops in children and young adults. Most older adults do not develop lichen nitidus.

The reason it’s so important to recognize that you may be developing lichen nitidus is because it can cause a lot of discomfort and it’s infectious. That means you can spread it to friends, family members, and associates if you’re not careful, causing other people discomfort. This is why it’s important that you seek treatment once you start noticing the symptoms of lichen nitidus.

It’s very important to recognize that you may be developing lichen nitidus

But before we can talk about the symptoms and treatments, we have to talk about the causes of lichen nitidus.

Causes of Lichen Nitidus

Lichen nitidus is a chronic condition, which means that if you develop lichen nitidus, expect to have it for a while, or at least expect it to come back eventually. It’s also usually asymptomatic which means that it develops in patients with little-to-no-warning. Since lichen nitidus is so rare it’s hard to determine all of its causes.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, a property of the National Institutes of Health, the causes of lichen nitidus are hard to pin down but there have been three separate cases of lichen nitidus developing in patients who had cutaneous diseases. Cutaneous diseases are any that affect the skin, hair, nails, or is associated with related muscles and glands. The three diseases that have been associated with lichen nitidus in the past are lichen striatus, oral lichen planus, and psoriasis vulgaris.

Although there is no consensus on what causes lichen nitidus, one theory that some doctors and researchers hold to is the idea that the papules associated with lichen nitidus are caused by inflammation. Specifically inflammation to the body’s white blood cells or T lymphocytes.

Regardless of the exact cause of lichen nitidus, once you start noticing its symptoms, be sure to take action to manage them.

Symptoms of Lichen Nitidus

Lichen nitidus is characterized by a few specific symptoms. Most of the symptoms are related to bumps or papules on the skin. The Mayo Clinic wrote an article about these symptoms and gave some additional details to look for.

The symptoms of lichen nitidus include:

Size - Lichen nitidus bumps and papules can range in size from as small as a pinpoint to as large as a pinhead.

Shape - Lichen nitidus bumps and papules are both flat-topped and round.

Color - Lichen nitidus bumps and papules are normally the same color as one’s skin. People with lighter skin might notice that their bumps and papules are slightly pink in color. For people of color, they’ll notice that their bumps and papules are somewhat lighter than their normal skin tone. Remember though, it is possible however that the patient will notice no discoloration whatsoever.

Location - Lichen nitidus bumps and papules normally appear anywhere on the chest, abdomen, arms, and genitalia. This includes the penis for men. They can also appear on the palms, soles of the feet, and on fingernails although this is incredibly rare. It’s also possible that your lichen nitidus will clear up in one area and reappear on another area.

Itch - Lichen nitidus bumps and papules are known to itch. Sometimes they itch intensely, although that is rare. Lichen nitidus bumps and papules are likely to develop wherever there is consistent pressure on the skin. For example. It’s possible to develop a line of papules where the skin naturally and frequently folds up on itself. Also, it’s common for bumps and papules to appear where a patient constantly scratches their skin. If you have lichen nitidus, try to avoid excess pressure on your skin whenever possible,

If you start noticing a rash-like condition form or tiny bumps developing on your body, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Lichen Nitidus Treatment Options

Either your doctor or your dermatologist will be able to diagnose you with lichen nitidus. Usually, diagnosis requires a careful examination of the skin where your doctor will look for symptoms of lichen nitidus and other skin abnormalities. He or she may even need to use a magnifying glass.

Usually, diagnosis requires a careful examination of the skin

Because lichen nitidus is a chronic condition, it will come and go on its own with little to no warning. The National Center for Biotechnology states that, if left untreated, lichen nitidus will resolve itself spontaneously in a few years in most patients. According to the NCBI, usually, the aforementioned bumps and pustules are eventually replaced with “postinflammatory hyperpigmented macules” that tend to resolve on their own in a matter of months.

That being said, you can still manage the symptoms by seeking out specific treatments.

In a separate article from the Mayo Clinic, they list a series of other possible lichen nitidus treatment options.

These lichen nitidus treatment option include:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Retinoids
  • Topical ointments
  • Antihistamines
  • Phototherapy

Your doctor will know the best option for you and your specific case of lichen nitidus. He or she may recommend one treatment or the other or a combination of two or more together. Whatever your doctor recommends. Follow his or her instructions exactly. The point of treatment is to manage the uncomfortable symptoms of lichen nitidus until it can resolve itself.

Get A Handle On Your Lichen Nitidus

Lichen nitidus is an unsightly, and at times, and uncomfortable disease to deal with, but it will go away. While you wait for your lichen nitidus to clear up, talk with your doctor and let him or her help you find the best  way to manage your symptoms.

Hopefully now you feel better prepared to deal with the symptoms of lichen nitidus.