Lichen planus is a medical condition which predominantly affects the skin and mucus membrane. However, sometimes it also affects the nails, hair, and genitals. This condition mainly afflicts middle aged individuals or people in their mid thirties and forties. It is seldom observed in elderly and children.
Skin lichen planus usually causes itching and hyper-pigmentation of skin and mucus membrane. Nail lichen planus most of the time is secondary to skin lesions. At least 10 percent of people having skin lichen planus may also suffer from nail lichen planus. Both fingernail and toenail can suffer from lichen planus.
Splitting of the nail plate, formation of longitudinal ridges and thinning are characteristic features of lichen planus. Nail lichen planus sometimes can cause nail dystrophy or permanent loss of nail. Therefore it is necessary to treat nail lichen planus in its early stage to prevent permanent nail loss.
What Causes Lichen Planus Of The Nails?
The exact cause of nail lichen planus is not known. However, it is believed to be triggered due to many factors. One such important factor seen among many individuals suffering from nail and skin lichen planus is stress, though emotional stress may not be directly related for its occurrence, many people suffering from this condition are known to suffer from significant stress.
Nail lichen planus is also associated with contact of certain chemicals. For example chemicals that are used to develop color photographs. Some cases of nail lichen planus are also linked to virus hepatitis C infection. There are certain medicines used for hypertension, diabetes, heart disease and malaria which are suspected to cause nail lichen planus.
Males and females are equally affected with this condition. Nail lichen panus is usually secondary to skin lichen.
Nail Lichen Planus Symptoms
Nail lichen planus in majority of cases affects people in their thirties and forties. Men and women are equally affected. At least 10 patients from 100 patients suffering from skin lichen are known to have nail lichen planus. Sometimes it may also develop in absence of cutaneous symptoms.
The characteristic symptom of nail lichen planus is thinning of nail bed, long ridges on the nail, splitting of nail. The nail looses it shin and sheen. It becomes wrinkled and dry. Sometimes there may be associated pain. Due to dystrophy it may grow inwards.
In severe cases the nail may be permanently lost. The nail becomes rough and dark. Nail lichen planus can be solitary lesion or many nails of fingers and toes can be affected. Sometimes it may produce itching sensation underneath the nail.
Homeopathic Treatment For Nail Lichen Planus
Nail lichen planus in its milder form usually remains asymptomatic. However, as the nails are deformed they appear ugly which may be the cause of embarrassment for the sufferer. Lichen planus on nail is not dangerous but its long course can cause damage to the matrix and disfigurement of nail.
Usually lichen on skin heals within two years even without treatment. However, for nails even if lichen heals on itself, the damage it has caused to nail bed remains permanently. Therefore it is necessary to treat the condition in its early stage to prevent damage to nail matrix. There are several corticosteroid ointments and antihistamine medications which may help to reduce pain and itching temporarily. However, their long term use may have various side effects.
Homeopathy is found effective in treating nail lichen planus. There are several medicines that may be useful in treating the conditions. Homeopathic medicines such as Kali bich, Jugl.c, Sul iod, Hyerricum, Ant. crud etc are useful in treating the condition. However, since homeopathy is based on individualization, the indicated drug for each person may vary.
A detailed history and analysis of various mental aspects of patient may be helpful in deriving a specific medicine for the affected person. Therefore it is necessary to consult a homeopath before taking any homeopathic medicine.