Learn About Leukoplakia

What is the definition of Leukoplakia?

Leukoplakia are patches on the tongue, in the mouth, or on the inside of the cheek.

Save information for later
Sign Up
What are the alternative names for Leukoplakia?

Hairy leukoplakia; Smoker's keratosis

What are the causes of Leukoplakia?

Leukoplakia affects the mucous membranes of the mouth. The exact cause is not known. It may be due to irritation such as:

  • Rough teeth
  • Rough places on dentures, fillings, and crowns
  • Smoking or other tobacco use (smoker's keratosis), especially pipes
  • Holding chewing tobacco or snuff in the mouth for a long period of time
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol

The disorder is more common in older adults.

A type of leukoplakia of the mouth, called oral hairy leukoplakia, is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. It is seen mostly in people with HIV/AIDS. It may be one of the first signs of HIV infection. Oral hairy leukoplakia can also appear in other people whose immune system is not working well, such as after a bone marrow transplant.

What are the symptoms of Leukoplakia?

Patches in the mouth usually develop on the tongue (sides of the tongue with oral hairy leukoplakia) and on the insides of the cheeks.

Leukoplakia patches are:

  • Most often white or gray
  • Uneven in shape
  • Fuzzy (oral hairy leukoplakia)
  • Slightly raised, with a hard surface
  • Unable to be scraped off
  • Painful when the mouth patches come into contact with acidic or spicy food
Not sure about your diagnosis?
Check Your Symptoms
What are the current treatments for Leukoplakia?

The goal of treatment is to get rid of the leukoplakia patch. Removing the source of irritation may cause the patch to disappear.

  • Treat dental causes such as rough teeth, irregular denture surface, or fillings as soon as possible.
  • Stop smoking or using other tobacco products.
  • Do not drink alcohol.

If removing the source of the irritation does not work, your health care provider may suggest applying medicine to the patch or using surgery to remove it.

For oral hairy leukoplakia, taking antiviral medicine usually causes the patch to disappear. Your provider may also suggest applying medicine to the patch.

Who are the top Leukoplakia Local Doctors?
Elite
Highly rated in
11
conditions

King's College London

Oral And Craniofacial Sciences 
London, ENG, GB 

Saman Warnakulasuriya is in London, United Kingdom. Warnakulasuriya is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Leukoplakia. They are also highly rated in 11 other conditions, according to our data. Their top areas of expertise are Leukoplakia, Erythroplakia, Oral Submucous Fibrosis, and Lichen Planus.

Elite
Highly rated in
5
conditions

Oral Oncology

Amsterdam, NL 

Isaac Van Der Waal-Van Der Lans is in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Van Der Waal-Van Der Lans is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Leukoplakia. He is also highly rated in 5 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Leukoplakia, Erythroplakia, Lichen Planus, and Oral Cancer.

 
 
 
 
Learn about our expert tiers
Learn more
Elite
Highly rated in
7
conditions

University Of Valencia

Department Of Stomatology And Maxillofacial Surgery 
Valencia, VC, ES 

Jose Bagan is in Valencia, Spain. Bagan is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Leukoplakia. They are also highly rated in 7 other conditions, according to our data. Their top areas of expertise are Leukoplakia, Osteonecrosis, Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Squamous Cell Skin Carcinoma.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Leukoplakia?

Leukoplakia is usually harmless. Patches in the mouth often clear up in a few weeks or months after the source of irritation is removed.

In some cases, the patches may be an early sign of cancer.

When should I contact a medical professional for Leukoplakia?

Contact your provider for an appointment if you have any patches that look like leukoplakia or hairy leukoplakia.

How do I prevent Leukoplakia?

Stop smoking and do not use other tobacco products. Do not drink alcohol, or reduce the number of drinks you have that contain alcohol. Have rough teeth treated and dental appliances repaired right away.

What are the latest Leukoplakia Clinical Trials?
M4OC-Prevent: Metformin for Oral Cancer Prevention
Match to trials
Find the right clinical trials for you in under a minute
Get started
Vitamin A Status in Patients With Vocal Fold Leukoplakia
What are the Latest Advances for Leukoplakia?
Treatment of oral leukoplakia with CO2 laser (10,600 nm): analysis of 37 cases.
Early verrucous cell carcinoma of the esophagus: a case report and endoscopic and histologic features.
Tired of the same old research?
Check Latest Advances
Extramammary Paget's Disease of the Vulva: Report of Two Cases.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : September 01, 2021
Published By : Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Associate Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Associate in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Dinulos JGH. Premalignant and malignant nonmelanoma skin tumors. In: Dinulos JGH, ed. Habif's Clinical Dermatology. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 21.

James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM. Disorders of the mucous membranes. In: James WD, Elston DM, Treat JR, Rosenbach MA, Neuhaus IM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of the Skin. 13th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 34.

Sciubba JJ. Oral mucosal lesions. In: Flint PW, Francis HW, Haughey BH, et al, eds. Cummings Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2021:chap 87.