Lichen Nitidus

Lichen nitidus is an uncommon skin disease, and we don't know what causes it. White or skin-colored bumps appear on body parts such as your stomach, chest, or the backs of your hands.


What is lichen nitidus?

Lichen nitidus is an uncommon skin disorder that causes small, shiny papules (bumps) to form on the skin’s surface. These bumps are usually skin-colored or white. They can develop on any part of the body.

Lichen nitidus usually develops in children and young adults, but it can also affect mature adults. It is not contagious.

Most cases need don't require treatment. Lichen nitidus often goes away on its own.


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How common is lichen nitidus?

Lichen nitidus is rare, so conclusions vary. Some sources indicate that it seems to affect males more often than females, and African Americans more often than Caucasians. It also seems to affect the young more often than the old. Other sources indicate that ethnicity and sex do not matter.

What are the risk factors for lichen nitidus?

People at higher risk for lichen nitidus include children and young adults.


Symptoms and Causes

What causes lichen nitidus?

Doctors don't know what causes lichen nitidus. At one point, it was thought that the condition was a type of lichen planus.

What are the signs and symptoms of lichen nitidus?

The bumps associated with lichen nitidus can appear anywhere on the body. They can form in groups or be randomly spaced. In some cases, they appear along the line of a scratch.

The most common areas for skin bumps to appear are:

  • Abdomen.
  • Backs of the hands.
  • Buttocks.
  • Chest.
  • Forearms.
  • Penis.

In many cases of lichen nitidus, there are no symptoms. When they occur, signs and symptoms may include:

  • Extreme itching.
  • Nail changes including pits and ridges.
  • Grey or white papules inside the mouth.


Diagnosis and Tests

How is lichen nitidus diagnosed?

A doctor diagnoses lichen nitidus by examining the appearance and location of the skin bumps.

To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor or your child’s doctor may use a test called a biopsy. During this test, a doctor removes a small sample of skin tissue to study it under a microscope.

Management and Treatment

How is lichen nitidus managed or treated?

Most cases of lichen nitidus do not require treatment.

In some cases, doctors manage symptoms with drugs called corticosteroids, which lessen swelling. Some doctors treat lichen nitidus with phototherapy (a procedure that delivers ultraviolet light into your skin).

What complications are associated with lichen nitidus?

Lichen nitidus may cause people to worry about their appearance. But it does not cause any medical complications.


Can you prevent lichen nitidus?

You cannot prevent lichen nitidus.

Outlook / Prognosis

What is the prognosis (outlook) for people with lichen nitidus?

Most cases of lichen nitidus last for several months to one year. It usually does not cause any long-term scarring or changes to the color of the skin.

Living With

When should you call the doctor if you have skin bumps?

Contact your doctor if your child develops skin bumps or a rash without a known cause such as allergies or poison ivy.

What questions should you ask your doctor about lichen nitidus?

If you have lichen nitidus, you may want to ask your doctor:

  • How serious is this condition?
  • What does treatment involve?
  • How long will the bumps last?

When can you go back to your regular activities if you have lichen nitidus?

Most people with lichen nitidus do not have to change their activities while the bumps are present. The condition rarely causes symptoms and is not contagious.

Medically Reviewed

Last reviewed on 10/10/2019.

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