Oral Lichen Planus Medication

Updated: Oct 02, 2017
  • Author: Jaisri R Thoppay, DDS, MBA, MS; Chief Editor: Jeff Burgess, DDS, MSD  more...
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Medication Summary

Topical corticosteroids are the mainstay of medical treatment of oral lichen planus (OLP), although rarely, corticosteroids may be administered intralesionally for a focal lesion or systemically for diffuse recalcitrant lesions. Some topical corticosteroid therapies may predispose the patient to oral pseudomembranous candidosis. However, this condition is rarely if ever symptomatic, and it generally does not complicate healing of the erosions related to oral lichen planus. Topical antimycotics (eg, nystatin, amphotericin) may be prescribed when an infection is present.

Erosive oral lichen planus that is recalcitrant to topical corticosteroids may respond to topical tacrolimus. [46, 47] Other potential therapies for recalcitrant oral lichen planus include cyclosporin, [48] hydroxychloroquine, [49] azathioprine, [50] dexamethasone elixir, mycophenolate, [51] dapsone, [47] systemic corticosteroids, and topical and systemic retinoids. [48] Oral lichen planus has been treated successfully with thalidomide, [15, 16] but this is considered experimental and associated with significant potential adverse effects; only clinicians trained thoroughly by the manufacturer can prescribe this agent.

Close monitoring of patients is essential when these medications are prescribed. Only practitioners completely familiar with the use of immunosuppressive drugs should attempt such treatment.




Class Summary

These agents are used to treat painful, erythematous, or erosive oral lichen planus lesions.

Betamethasone (Celestone, Soluspan)

Betamethasone decreases inflammation by suppressing the migration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes and reversing increased capillary permeability. It affects the production of lymphokines and has an inhibitory effect on the Langerhans cells.

Fluocinolone (Synalar, Synalar-HP, Fluonid)

Fluocinolone is of medium potency. Use 0.01% or 0.025% cream, gel, or ointment with or without Orabase. It inhibits cell proliferation and is immunosuppressive, antiproliferative, and anti-inflammatory.

Clobetasol (Cormax, Olux, Temovate)

Clobetasol is of high potency. Use 0.05% ointment, gel, or cream with or without Orabase. It is a class I superpotent topical steroid. It suppresses mitosis and increases the synthesis of proteins that decrease inflammation and cause vasoconstriction. Ointment is recommended for intraoral use. Most pharmacists mix 15 g of clobetasol with 15 g of Orabase; this mixture should be indicated on the prescription.

Beclomethasone, inhaled (Qvar)

Beclomethasone is a corticosteroid inhalant typically used to treat asthma. Use a metered dose inhaler with 50 mcg per puff. Direct inhaler to sites of greatest erythema or erosion.

Triamcinolone (Amcort, Aristocort, Aristospan)

Triamcinolone is of medium potency. Use 0.1% triamcinolone acetonide in 1% carboxy cellulose for dental paste. Alternately, use 0.1% cream in Orabase or alone as a cream, ointment, or suspension for intralesional administration.

Prednisolone (Delta-Cortef, Prednisol TBA injection)

Prednisolone is for systemic therapy. It decreases inflammation by suppressing the migration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes and by reducing capillary permeability.



Class Summary

These agents are used for painful, erythematous, or erosive oral lichen planus that is recalcitrant to topical corticosteroids.

Azathioprine (Imuran)

Azathioprine antagonizes purine metabolism. It inhibits the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and proteins. Azathioprine may decrease the proliferation of immune cells, resulting in lower autoimmune activity.