Causes Of Lichen Aureus: Symptoms, Diagnosis And Treatment

Lichen aureus is a rare skin condition of unknown etiology. It is a chronic skin disease first described by Martin in 1958. The disease is characterized by golden yellow pigmented patches particularly occurring on legs. It can sometime spread to trunk and forearm. This type of skin patches more often develop in children and young people, although it can occur at any age. Sometimes the patches may be itchy and discomforting to the patient. The lesions evolve slowly and persist for many years.

Lichen aureus is difficult to treat and progresses over a period of time.

Local application of steroid cream can alleviate the symptoms; however they may recur after few days or months. Lichen aureus is a benign skin disease but because of its ugly appearance people suffering from it are often emotionally disturbed.

What Causes Lichen Aureus?

The etiology of lichen aureus is not very well understood. One of the reasons is it is a rare disease hence much research yet needs to be done. Some researchers believe the condition is immune related. It is not an infectious disease and does not spread by direct contact from an affected person to another person.

The lesions of lichen aureus are observed predominantly on legs. Risk factors may include varicose veins and traumatic injury in lower leg. This skin condition is mainly observed in young individuals and children but rarely in older adults. It occurs both in males and females with slight predilection towards males.

Symptoms Of Lichen Aureus

The symptoms of lichen aureus are as follows:

  • Lichen aureus presents as golden yellow or brown to purple patches on skin.
  • The lesions occur unilaterally on one side of the body.
  • They are well circumscribed area.
  • They are localized golden yellow or brown colored lesions. They remain confined to one particular area of skin.
  • Mostly the patches are present in lower leg. But sometimes they may appear on trunk and forearm.
  • Lichen aureus patches are not itchy. Rarely may they cause mild itching and discomfort to the patient.
  • The rust colored macules and papules of this chronic disease vary in size. Sometimes there are small pigmentations or petichea observed in the lesion.

Diagnosis And Treatment For Lichen Aureus

Lichen aureus is diagnosed by following means:

  • Physical examination and medical history.
  • Detailed physical examination with the help of a magnified glass. The procedure is called dermoscopy.
  • Biopsy of the skin lesion: A small skin biopsy is performed and the material is sent to the laboratory for histopathological examination. The biopsy material is examined under microscope. The pathologist concludes after examining the slide whether the features are those of lichen aureus.

Lichen aureus is a slow and progressive chronic disease. It may take many months to develop. The lesions may subside for time being after treatment but they come back after a period of time. Lichen aureus as such is a benign skin condition. Since there are no other symptoms in majority of cases the lesions may be left untreated.

However, applying steroid ointments and creams may be helpful to reduce the patches. But it is temporary as the golden brown patches may reappear. Exposure to ultraviolet may be beneficial according to some dermatologists. Since the patches are chronic some patients may have cosmetic concern. Due to this they feel stressed and depressed. In such case reassurance may be beneficial.

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