Systemic and topical corticosteroid treatment of oral lichen planus: a comparative study with long-term follow-up

J Oral Pathol Med. 2003 Jul;32(6):323-9. doi: 10.1034/j.1600-0714.2003.00173.x.


Background: Topical corticosteroids are the mainstay treatment for oral lichen planus (OLP), but some authors suggest that systemic corticosteroid therapy is the only way to control acute presentation of OLP.

Methods: Forty-nine patients with histologically proven atrophic-erosive OLP were divided into two groups matched for age and sex. The test group (26 patients) was treated systemically with prednisone (50 mg/day), and afterwards with clobetasol ointment in an adhesive medium plus antimicotics, whereas the control group (23 patients) was only treated topically with clobetasol plus antimycotics.

Results: Complete remission of signs was obtained in 68.2% of the test group and 69.6% of the control group, respectively (P = 0.94). Similar results were obtained for symptoms. Follow-up showed no significant differences between the two groups. One-third of the patients of the test group versus none in the control group experienced systemic side-effects (P = 0.003).

Conclusions: The most suitable corticosteroid therapy in the management of OLP is the topical therapy, which is easier and more cost-effective than the systemic therapy followed by topical therapy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Administration, Topical
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Clobetasol / administration & dosage*
  • Clobetasol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Humans
  • Lichen Planus, Oral / drug therapy*
  • Lichen Planus, Oral / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prednisone / administration & dosage*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Clobetasol
  • Prednisone