Lichen Plans like keratosis

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Main PageBenign lesionsLichen Plans like keratosis
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 Author(s): N. N.
Description This chapter describes the dermoscopy of lichen planus like keratosis
Author(s) N. N.
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Status update March 25, 2023
Status by Ralph P. Braun


Lichen planus-like keratosis (LPLK), also known as lichenoid keratosis, is one of the common benign neoplasms of the skin. It is believed to be either a seborrheic keratosis or a solar lentigo that is undergoing regression. [1] [2].

Clinical and histologic appearance

Lichen planus-like keratosis is a great masquerader. The clinical appearance depends on its stage of evolution. Lesions can be solitary or in some cases multiple.

Early stage

The histologic features of early stage of LPLK include hypergranulosis, epidermal hyperplasia, a few necrotic keratinocytes and a superficial, bandlike lichenoid infiltrate. Clinically these lesions appear as pink macules or papules and may be difficult to distinguish from basal cell carcinoma or squamous cell carcinoma.

Intermediate stage

Histologically intermediate stage LPLK is characterized by melanophages, inflammatory cells and fibrosis, with features consistent with either a lentigo or a seborrheic keratosis. In some cases, clinically, the lesion may be difficult to distinguish from melanoma (melanoma on sun-damaged skin, lentiginous melanoma, lentigo maligna melanoma).

Late stage

Late stage LPLK is characterized histologically by papillary fibrosis, telangiectasias, and melanophages. The lesions have a more blue-gray to black clinical appearance and may be difficult to distinguish from melanoma.

Dermatoscopic criteria

Also dermoscopic findings depend on the stage of the lesion.

Early stage LPLK

Lichen planus-like keratosis in its early stage is characterized by polymorphous vessels: dotted vessels and short thin vessels that are either linear, slightly curved or serpentine in appearance. The lesions may appear structureless, pink-white with an orange or yellow hue, colors that are not bright nor saturated, borders that are scalloped and a scale. Shiny white structures (SWS, or crystalline structures) are commonly seen with LPLK, that appear as white strands or blotches. Rosettes can also be seen with LPLKs that coincide with actinically damaged skin.

Here are two examples of early stage LPLKs:

Early stage lplk 2.jpg
Early stage LPLK.jpg

Intermediate stage LPLK

Lichen planus-like keratosis in the intermediate phase is characterized by two patterns. The first pattern depicts the dermoscopic features of a solar lentigo (fine lines parallel; straight, slightly curved, long or short, with sharply demarcated and scalloped borders) with the addition of regression structures: focal gray dots/granules.

INTERMEDIATE lplk sl.jpg

The second pattern portrays the features of a seborrheic keratosis (borders sharply demarcated, milia-like cysts, comedo-like openings, fissures, ridges, looped vessels and fine vessels surrounded by a halo) with the addition of regression structures: focal gray dots/granules.

Intermediate LPLK SK.jpg

Late stage LPLK

Lichen planus-like keratosis in the late phase is characterized by scattered clumps of pigment with diffuse gray dots/granules or gray dots/granules that form what is known as a diffuse granular pattern, and borders that are often scalloped or have a moth-eaten appearance.

Late stage LPLK3.jpg

Differential diagnosis

Clinical differential diagnoses include [3]:

  • basal cell carcinoma
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • neavus
  • melanoma
  • seborrehic keratosis
  • lentigo
  • actinic keratosis

Dermoscopic features that were found to distinguish LPLKs from other lesions include: overall organized dermoscopic structures, scale, orange color, coarse +/- fine granules and peppering as the only feature present. LPLKs were less likely to have moth-eaten borders and irregular dots compared to the other lesions [3].

  1. Laur et al.: Lichen planus-like keratosis. A clinicohistopathologic correlation. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 1981;4:329-36. PMID: 7217401.
  2. Goldenhersh et al.: Documented evolution of a solar lentigo into a solitary lichen planus-like keratosis. J. Cutan. Pathol. 1986;13:308-11. PMID: 3771875.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Liopyris et al.: Clinical and dermoscopic features associated with lichen planus-like keratoses that undergo skin biopsy: A single-center, observational study. Australas. J. Dermatol. 2018;. PMID: 30450536. DOI.
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