What is Lichen Planopilaris? Causes, Symptoms & Treatments


What is lichen planopilaris? What does lichen planopilaris look like? Can hair regrow after lichen planopilaris? 

If you find yourself asking these questions, you’re not alone. Lichen Planopilaris (LPP) is a condition that affects the hair follicles, causing inflammation, scarring, and ultimately, hair loss. It’s a type of scarring alopecia, meaning that once the hair follicles are damaged and scarred, hair regrowth becomes challenging.

I’m Emma Wright, a seasoned hair transplant and restoration content specialist with over a decade of experience. Over the years, I’ve provided valuable insights and tips to countless readers, and today, I’m here to share expert advice on how to get rid of lichen planopilaris.

Lichen planopilaris can be frustrating, especially when you don’t know how to get rid of it. Interestingly, lichen planopilaris can sometimes present with one-sided hair loss, where the hair loss is predominantly localized to one area of the scalp.

This asymmetrical pattern of hair loss is distressing and may prompt individuals to seek answers and solutions for their condition. So, what is lichen planopilaris? And what is the best treatment for lichen planopilaris?

Let’s find out.

What is Lichen Planopilaris?

Lichen planopilaris (LPP) is a type of scarring hair loss, also known as cicatricial alopecia, characterized by inflammation and destruction of hair follicles. It’s considered an autoimmune condition, where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles, leading to inflammation, scarring alopecia, and ultimately hair loss.

The exact cause of lichen planopilaris is not fully understood, but it’s believed to result from a combination of genetic predisposition, environmental triggers, and an abnormal immune response. Certain factors such as stress, hormonal changes, medications, and infections may also play a role in triggering or exacerbating the condition.

What is Lichen Planopilaris?

Unlike some other forms of hair loss, e.g. winter hair loss or shock loss after hair transplant, where the hair follicles remain intact, lichen planopilaris causes irreversible damage and scarring to the hair follicles, making hair regrowth difficult or impossible in the affected areas.

Let’s take a closer look at the causes of lichen planopilaris.

What Causes Lichen Planopilaris of the Scalp?

LPP is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic predisposition, autoimmune factors, and environmental triggers. While the exact cause is not fully understood, several factors may contribute to the development of LPP:

  1. Autoimmune Reaction: LPP is considered an autoimmune condition, where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. This immune response leads to inflammation and destruction of the hair follicles, resulting in scarring and permanent hair loss.
  2. Genetic Predisposition: There appears to be a genetic component to LPP, as it tends to run in families. Certain genetic factors may increase the likelihood of developing LPP or make individuals more susceptible to autoimmune reactions targeting the hair follicles.
  3. Environmental Triggers: While genetics play a significant role, environmental factors may also trigger or exacerbate LPP. These triggers can include stress, hormonal changes, medications, infections, and exposure to certain chemicals or allergens. These factors can disrupt the immune system’s balance and contribute to the onset or worsening of LPP symptoms.
  4. Inflammatory Processes: Inflammation is a hallmark feature of LPP, and chronic inflammation of the hair follicles can lead to scarring and irreversible damage. The exact mechanisms underlying the inflammatory processes in LPP are complex and may involve interactions between immune cells, cytokines, and other signaling molecules.

Lichen Planopilaris Symptoms

So, what does LPP look like? Lichen planopilaris can present with various symptoms, which may vary from person to person.

Here are some common symptoms associated with Lichen Planopilaris:

  1. Hair Loss: Progressive hair loss is the primary symptom of LPP. The hair loss typically starts slowly and may initially be subtle, but over time, it can become more noticeable and may lead to bald patches on the scalp. In advanced stages, hair loss may be extensive, affecting large areas of the scalp.
  2. Scalp Itching: Many individuals with LPP experience itching and burning sensations on the scalp. This itching can range from mild to severe and may be persistent or intermittent. Scratching the scalp excessively can exacerbate inflammation and discomfort.
  3. Scalp Redness: Inflammation of the hair follicles can cause the scalp to appear red or inflamed in affected areas. The redness may be localized or more widespread, depending on the extent of inflammation and the stage of the condition.
  4. Scalp Scaling: Some individuals with LPP may notice flaking or scaling of the scalp skin, particularly in areas where hair loss is occurring. This scaling can contribute to itching and discomfort and may be accompanied by inflammation and redness.
  5. Scalp Discoloration: Over time, the affected areas of the scalp may develop a bluish-gray discoloration, indicating scarring and damage to the scalp tissue. This discoloration may be more pronounced in advanced stages of LPP and can be a sign of irreversible damage to the hair follicles.
  6. Tenderness or Pain: In some cases, individuals with LPP may experience tenderness or pain in the affected areas of the scalp. This discomfort may be due to inflammation of the hair follicles or associated with other scalp conditions.

how to get rid of Lichen Planopilaris

It’s important to note that not everyone with Lichen Planopilaris will experience all of these symptoms, and the severity of symptoms can vary widely among individuals. Additionally, LPP can affect other areas of the body besides the scalp, such as the eyebrows, eyelashes, and other hair-bearing areas.

If you suspect you have LPP or are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s essential to consult with a dermatologist or healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment. Early intervention can help slow down the progression of the condition and minimize permanent hair loss.

How to Get Rid of Lichen Planopilaris

What is the best treatment for lichen planopilaris?

Getting rid of LPP completely may not be possible since it’s a chronic condition, but treatments can help manage symptoms, slow down hair loss, and sometimes promote hair regrowth.

Here are some strategies used to address LPP:

  1. Topical Corticosteroids: These are often the first line of treatment and can help reduce inflammation and itching. They come in various forms like creams, ointments, or solutions and are applied directly to the affected scalp areas.
  2. Injected Corticosteroids: Intralesional corticosteroid injections can be administered directly into the affected scalp areas to reduce inflammation and promote hair regrowth. This treatment is typically performed by a dermatologist.
  3. Topical Immunotherapy: Substances like diphencyprone (DPCP) or squaric acid dibutyl ester (SADBE) are applied to the scalp to provoke an allergic reaction, which helps modulate the immune response and halt hair loss.
  4. Oral Medications: In more severe cases, oral corticosteroids or other immunosuppressive drugs may be prescribed to suppress the immune response and reduce inflammation.
  5. Phototherapy: Light therapy, such as excimer laser or narrow-band ultraviolet B (UVB) therapy, can help reduce inflammation and promote hair regrowth.
  6. Hair Transplantation: In cases where scarring is localized, hair transplantation may be an option to restore hair growth in affected areas. However, it’s essential to stabilize the condition before considering transplantation.
  7. Supportive Therapies: Using gentle hair care products, avoiding tight hairstyles that can further damage the scalp, and managing stress can help support overall scalp health and improve symptoms.

To be honest, the prospect of regrowing hair after lichen planopilaris can be daunting, but it’s not impossible. Treatment strategies focus on reducing inflammation, halting further hair loss, and potentially promoting hair regrowth.

Finding a Lasting Solution

While lichen planopilaris presents a significant challenge due to its chronic nature and potential for irreversible hair loss, there are hair loss treatment options available to manage symptoms and potentially promote hair regrowth.

However, for those seeking a more permanent solution to hair loss, especially in cases where scarring has occurred, hair transplantation can be a viable option. Turkey has emerged as a leading destination for hair transplantation, offering high-quality procedures at affordable prices.

If you’re considering the best hair transplant in Turkey but are unsure about which hair transplant clinic to choose, reading our hair transplant clinic reviews can provide valuable insights into the experiences of other patients. This will help you make an informed decision about your hair restoration journey.

Remember, taking the first step towards addressing hair loss can be empowering. Whether exploring conservative treatments or considering hair transplantation, prioritizing your hair health is essential.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for guidance and support on your path to reclaiming your confidence and vitality.