What is lichen striatus?

Lichen striatum is a relatively rare skin disorder that primarily affects children. The rash associated with this skin condition is not itchy or bothersome to the affected person, although the bumps eventually coalesce to create long bands of scaly patches on the skin. The arms and legs are the most commonly affected areas, although the rash can appear anywhere on the body. For reasons that are not clearly understood, girls get lichen striatus more often than boys. Any questions or concerns about lichen striatum in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

The development of an unexplained skin rash on the arms or legs is usually the first noticeable symptom of lichen striatus. Small raised bumps that are usually pink or flesh-colored and do not itch are characteristic of this skin disorder. Within a few days or weeks of these bumps appearing, the papules begin to coalesce, creating long bands of affected skin that become crusty or scaly. In most cases, there is no itching or discomfort associated with lichen striatum, although mild to moderate itching can sometimes be experienced. In those with darker skin, the lesions associated with the disorder often appear white or lighter in color than the rest of the skin.

The exact cause of lichen striatum is unknown, although cases of siblings affected with the disorder have been reported. Some research suggests there may be a viral cause, although this theory has not been conclusively proven. This type of skin disorder is not contagious and does not pose any threat to the general health of the patient.

Treatment for lichen striatum is not usually necessary, as the condition usually resolves on its own after a period of time. The lesions may take several weeks to several years to fade, and the skin may temporarily darken as part of the healing process. In some cases, topical steroid creams may be used to speed the healing process, although steroid injections introduced directly into the lesions may be more helpful. This condition is notoriously resistant to treatment in many cases, so letting it run its course is often a better option, especially when there are no negative side effects. A doctor can help the patient decide if treatment is recommended on an individual basis.

Go up