What Is Lichenification?
Lichenification refers to the formation of white patches or scales on the surface of your skin. These are not new phenomena; they have been observed since ancient times. However, they were thought to be caused by various factors such as sun exposure, insect bites, and even certain drugs like cocaine.
The term “lichens” comes from the Greek word for “white.” Lichens form when dead skin cells adhere together under stress. They may appear white or grayish-brown in color. Some lichens look like tiny islands floating on the surface of your skin.
Others resemble large, black bumps that are located near your hairline and above your eyebrows. There are many different types of lichen, each with its own characteristics and symptoms.
In general, the more exposed to sunlight you get, the faster these patches grow. When you’re exposed to ultraviolet rays, some of these patches turn dark brown. Other types of lichen do not change color at all.
Lichenization can occur anywhere on your body, but it’s most common on your face and hands. Lichens are usually found on areas where there is a high amount of friction (such as around the nails) or irritation (such as around the mouth).
The most common types of lichen are:
1. Lichen Simplex
Also known as the diaper rash, this is a relatively harmless type of skin rash caused by irritation. The rash is red and bumpy in appearance and usually found on the lower abdomen or inner thighs of infants. It is often mistaken for a yeast infection by mothers, which is why it often goes untreated in infants and children.
2. Keratosis Pilaris
Keratosis pilaris is a relatively benign condition in which the skin produces too much keratin, resulting in small bumps or “goosebumps” on the surface of the skin.
This condition is also known as lichen simplex. It is a type of eczema that causes a burning or stinging sensation.
4. Seborrheic Dermatitis
Seborrheic dermatitis is a condition in which skin cells grow too fast and clog the pores, creating an itchy rash. It is most common in people with oily skin. The most common areas where you find this condition are the scalp, along the hairline, eyebrows, behind the ears, and underneath the chin.
Also called “medal measles,” tinea versicolor is a condition in which the skin produces too many pigment cells. It is not caused by the measles virus or the varicella zoster virus, despite the name. It most commonly occurs on the trunk and extremities, and may cause itching.
Now that you know what lichen is, let us discuss some natural ways to treat your specific type of lichen.
Sources & references used in this article:
Treatment of lichenified atopic eczema with tacrolimus ointment by H Granlund, A Remitz, H Kyllonen… – Acta Dermato …, 2001 – researchgate.net
Topical tacrolimus for the treatment of lichen simplex chronicus by R Aschoff, G Wozel – Journal of dermatological treatment, 2007 – Taylor & Francis
Otitis externa: a practical guide to treatment and prevention by RW Sander – American family physician, 2001 – aafp.org
Artificial lichenification produced by a scratching machine by RW Goldblum, WN Piper – Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 1954 – core.ac.uk