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August 1961

The Variations and Course of Lichen Planus

Author Affiliations


Fellow in Dermatology, Mayo Foundation (Dr. Altman); Section of Dermatology (Dr. Perry); Mayo Clinic and Mayo Foundation.

Arch Dermatol. 1961;84(2):179-191. doi:10.1001/archderm.1961.01580140005001

Little information is available concerning the clinical course of lichen planus and its variations. Most of the previous statistical studies date back to the American Dermatologic Association symposium on lichen planus in 1919. These reports,1-4 however, say little about the course of the disease other than noting its great variability.

In 1955 Tompkins5 reported a follow-up study of 41 patients with lichen planus. He classified the disease into localized, disseminate, and generalized types, depending on the extent of involvement. In the generalized and disseminate cases the tendency was for a more acute onset and spread of the lesions, and usually for a short duration, which averaged 8 months. The localized forms tended toward chronicity and minimal dissemination with an average duration of 3 years and 10 months. Recurrence of lichen planus was noted in 12% of patients after complete clearing had occurred. Another 19% of patients had hypertrophic

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