Leukoplakia are patches on the tongue, in the mouth, or on the inside of the cheek.
Hairy leukoplakia; Smoker's keratosis
Leukoplakia affects the mucous membranes of the mouth. The exact cause is not known. It may be due to irritation such as:
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.
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:
The goal of treatment is to get rid of the leukoplakia patch. Removing the source of irritation may cause the patch to disappear.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Contact your provider for an appointment if you have any patches that look like leukoplakia or hairy 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.
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.
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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.
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