Despite its exotic-sounding name, lichen planus is actually a common skin condition that can occur on one or several parts of the body. Anyone can develop this condition, which typically shows up as shiny, reddish-purple bumps, says the American Academy of Dermatology. It may also itch and cause pain, especially if it develops on the genitals. The exact causes are unknown, although it may be an autoimmune condition. Though vitamins are not a cure for the condition, some vitamins may help reduce the risk of a lichen planus outbreak and treat symptoms of the condition. Talk with your doctor before using any supplements to treat lichen planus.
Take a vitamin A supplement. MayoClinic.com states that retinoids, synthetic forms of vitamin A, may be used topically or taken orally to help treat lichen planus. This vitamin also helps skin stay healthy and boosts the immune system. Do not take oral retinoids or use topical retinoids for lichen planus if you are pregnant, as these can cause birth defects, says MayoClinic.com.
Take an omega-3 fatty acid vitamin supplement. Lichen planus involves skin inflammation, and omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation. Follow the directions on the package regarding dosing or talk with your doctor about an appropriate dose. Do not take omega-3 fatty acid supplements if you have bleeding problems or take blood-thinning medications.
Consume a zinc supplement. Zinc helps the immune system fight off bacteria and viruses, says the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Although the exact cause of lichen planus is not known, the lesions that develop are caused by inflammation from white blood cells called T-lymphocytes that are usually activated near the site of disease, says MayoClinic.com. Some diseases may be a trigger for lichen planus, and a strong immune system may help.
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Take a vitamin C supplement. Not only does vitamin C help strengthen your immune system, but it is also important in promoting healthy skin. The University of Maryland Medical Center suggests taking C supplements several times daily, with meals, to reduce the risk of stomach upset. Talk with your doctor about an appropriate dose of vitamin C.
Cool compresses and over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams can help treat the itching and inflammation associated with lichen planus, says MayoClinic.com. Ask your doctor if perhaps an allergen has triggered the condition; she may be able to run allergy tests.
Do not use vitamins as the only treatment for lichen planus. Vitamins may help boost your immune system and help your body fight an outbreak of the condition, but your doctor may need to prescribe treatments like corticosteroids, topical retinoids or other drugs. Before using any vitamins to treat your condition, consult your doctor to make sure they will not interact with any other medications you are taking and to determine the appropriate dosage.
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin A (Retinol); Dr. Steven Ehrlich; 2009
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids; Dr. Steven Ehrlich; 2009
- National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements: Zinc
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid); Dr. Steven Ehrlich; 2009
Jaime Herndon has been writing for health websites since 2009 and has guest-blogged on SheKnows. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and women's studies, she earned a Master of Science in clinical health psychology and a Master of Public Health in maternal-child health. Her interests include oncology, women's health and exercise science.