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April 1954


AMA Arch Derm Syphilol. 1954;69(4):435-437. doi:10.1001/archderm.1954.01540160037006

THE ORIGIN of the lichens is lost in dermatologic antiquity. The earliest books on skin diseases (e. g., those of Willan and of Bateman) contain chapters on this group. Through the years numerous investigators have described a wide variety of unrelated dermatoses by using the term lichen plus one or more qualifying descriptive adjectives. When Erasmus Wilson isolated lichen planus in 1868 he "separated this entity from a chaotic group," as Graham Little said in an address delivered in 1919 at the American Dermatological Association meeting.

After lichen planus (or Wilson's lichen, as it became known on the European continent) and its clinical forms became universally recognized as a distinct entity, attempts were made by authorities to limit the use of the term lichen to this particular disease. Fred Wise, for example, in a well-written article published in 1919, called "Neurodermatosis and the Pseudolichens," made an eloquent plea for this

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