Leukoplakia

Leukoplakia is a precancerous lesion that develops on the tongue or the inside of the cheek as a response to chronic irritation. Occasionally, leukoplakia patches develop on the female external genitalia.
Leukoplakia is primarily a disorder of the mucous membranes of the mouth. It is caused by irritation. Lesions usually develop on the tongue, but they may also appear on the insides of the cheek.
 
Irritation may result from rough teeth or rough places on dentures, fillings, and crowns. It may also result from smoking or other tobacco use (smoker’s keratosis). Persons who smoke pipes are at high risk for developing this condition, as are those who hold chewing tobacco or snuff in the mouth for a long period of time.
 
Leukoplakia patches may develop on the female external genital area, but the cause is unknown.
 
Like other mouth ulcers, leukoplakia may become cancerous.
 
The disorder is most common in the elderly.
 
«Hairy» leukoplakia of the mouth is an unusual form of leukoplakia that is seen mostly in HIV-positive people. It may be one of the first signs of HIV infection. It can also appear in others when their immune systems are not working well, such as after a bone marrow transplant. It may be caused by the Epstein-Barr virus.
 
White patches usually appear on the tongue and sometimes on other places in the mouth. The condition may look like thrush, a type of candida infection that is also associated with HIV and AIDS in adults.
The primary symptom of leukoplakia is a skin lesion with the following characteristics:
 
Location
Usually on the tongue
May be on the inside of the cheeks
In females, occasionally on the genitals
Color
Usually white or gray
May be red (called erythroplakia)
Texture
Thick
Slightly raised
Hardened surface
The symptoms of hairy leukoplakia are painless, fuzzy, white patches on the tongue.
The typical white patch of leukoplakia develops slowly, over weeks to months. The lesion may eventually become rough in texture, and may become sensitive to touch, heat, spicy foods, or other irritation.
 
A biopsy of the lesion confirms the diagnosis. An examination of the biopsy specimen may find changes that indicate oral cancer.

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