Deriving from the Greek word λειχήν for “tree moss” and the Latin word planus for “planar,” lichen planus is a relatively uncommon and heterogeneous cutaneous disorder that typically develops in middle-aged adults. Despite the significant clinical burden associated with the disorder, little well-conducted molecular research has been undertaken, possibly because of heterogeneity impeding consistent and confident phenotyping. The multiple variants of lichenoid disease bear overlapping clinical and pathologic features despite manifesting as distinct clinical disorders. The first article in this 2-part continuing medical education series provides a comprehensive overview of the clinical and pathologic characteristics of cutaneous lichenoid dermatoses and links these manifestations to recent advances in our understanding of the underlying pathobiology of such diseases.
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