4 Things Parents Need To Know About Lichen Spinulosus

Posted on: 3 January 2016

Lichen spinulosus is a rare skin condition that tends to affect children and young adults. Here are four things parents need to know about this skin condition.

What are the signs of lichen spinulosus?

If your child develops lichen spinulosus, papules will suddenly appear on their skin. These papules are usually between one and three millimeters in diameter, and are either flat or conical. Each papule has a pointed spine in its center.

The papules tend to group together into large plaques. These plaques spread quickly and can affect large areas of your child's skin. Each plaque is between two and five centimeters in diameter. The plaques tend to be found on the neck, arms, abdomen, hips, buttocks, or knees.

These papules and plaques may be asymptomatic, but some children find them itchy.

What causes it?

Unfortunately, doctors still don't know what causes lichen spinulosus. Factors like infection, chemicals, drugs, and trauma have been considered as possible causes. The skin condition has also been linked to both HIV infection and Crohn's disease. There is also some evidence that there may be a genetic component to this disease. More research needs to be done to identify the causes of this disease.

Is it a serious problem?

Lichen spinulosus isn't a serious health problem, but that doesn't mean that it's harmless. If the plaques develop in very visible areas, like your child's neck, they may feel self-conscious about their appearance and may be teased at school. In cases where the plaques are itchy, children may be distressed by the itchy sensation. Secondary infections are also a concern if they itch enough to break the skin.

Can it be treated?

It's possible for lichen spinulosus to go away by itself, but this can take several years. If the lesions are located in hard-to-see places, your child may not mind waiting to see what happens, but if they're very visible and causing cosmetic problems, they can be treated.

Many treatments are available for these lesions. Your child may be prescribed creams that contain salicylic acid, lactic acid, or urea. These creams, like other keratolytic agents, work by thinning the skin on the lesion and in the surrounding areas. This causes the lesion to loosen and fall off.

If the lesions are itchy, additional treatments may be required to ease the itch. Steroid creams may be applied to the lesions in these cases.

If you think your child has lichen spinulosus, take them to a dermatologist, like those at Dermatology Associates, right away.