Link between Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and lichen planus.

Today I am reviewing an article about my FAVORITE subject! Autoimmune associations!

The article, titled: Possible link between Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and oral lichen planus: a novel association found, was published in May of this year in the journal Clinical Oral Investigations.

Why I like this article:
In addition to narcolepsy, I also struggle with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and lichen planus. (My lichen planus is predominantly on my ankles, however, and not in my mouth as it is for many people, including those covered in this article). The lichen planus appeared before I was formally diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, however, it is difficult to know when I developed Hashimoto’s, and it isn’t unreasonable to assume that I may have had the Hashimoto’s for quite some time prior to developing lichen planus.
What they found: 
The authors found that more people with oral lichen planus (OLP) had a higher incidence of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (HT) than those that did not. In fact, 14.3% of people with LP had Hashimoto’s (13% more than the general population, which has a 1% occurrence of HT). They also found that in 93.3% of the cases where Hashimoto’s and LP presented together, the Hashimoto’s thyroiditis came first, suggesting a causal role for circulating anti-thyroid antibody in lichen planus.
Though novel, the finding isn’t altogether surprising.  In fact, lichen planus is associated with many other autoimmune diseases, including Sjrogen’s syndrome and lupus, and is considered a common skin rash among autoimmune patients.
What is interesting about the association between Hashimoto’s and skin disorders such as lichen planus, however, is that keratinocytes (skin cells) have been shown to express receptors for thyroid hormones, thus potentially serving as an extra-thyroid site of organ specific autoimmune attack.  This is speculative, as of yet, but it will be interesting to see if these antigens are upregulated in lichen planus lesions of individuals with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.

11 thoughts on “Link between Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and lichen planus.

  1. I also have lichen planus…(not the oral kind) and hashimoto’s as well.
    Do you feel like your gluten free diet has helped with lichen planus? Mine is particularly bad as of late and I can’t imagine taking steroid treatment…sometimes I wonder if it could be related to gluten or processed foods.

    • Hi Margaux,

      I may write a post on this soon. Unfortunately, I have not noticed a difference in gluten free diet and my lichen planus. There are TSH receptors in the skin, and lichen planus has been linked to Hashimoto’s. I think that the autoimmune reaction that causes Hashimoto’s also attacks the skin because both the cells of the skin and the thyroid express some of the same things. So they body probably intends to attack the thyroid, and it also “accidentally” attacks the skin because it is wearing the same color uniform.
      It has also been shown that a gluten free diet doesn’t make Hashimoto’s go away or get better, although there is good evidence that untreated celiac disease or gluten intolerance may lead to thyroid disease/Hashimoto’s in the first place. I would suspect that a gluten free diet will not help Hashimoto’s or lichen planus directly, although I found that it did help many of the other autoimmune and gluten-intolerant like symptoms I was having. I have also found that it helps the fatigue associated with the Hashimotos.

  2. I have had HT for 40 years, my mother had it, as have my two daughters & one of my sons.(My grandchildren & great-grandchildren have not, so far, shown any signs.)

    6 years ago I had the first bout of oral LP, which has come and gone, over the years, with the only effective treatment being a steroid spray, used until the attack subsides.

    One of my daughters & my HT affected son, have LP. Is this another thread of evidence of a connection, I wonder.

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  4. My currently 8 year old daughter has had mildly elevated TSH (4.3-4.9) for the past 1.5 years. She very recently has been diagnosed with lichen sclerosus. There is some diagnosed autoimmune disease in grandparents and some undiagnosed autoimmune symptoms in mom. Not really sure how alarmed to be or what to do next. Any suggestions?

  5. I have yet to be diagnosed; as I have been trying to get in to see my doctor. However, I have experienced what I am believing to be Lichen Planus only on my ankles. I am also an undiagnosed Hyperthyroid sufferer and am still not too sure if the two are linked. I do understand that there are a lot of things that Hashimoto’s disease and Grave’s disease share; but am still not sure what to do or how to proceed when I speak to my doctor. Can you please shed some light on my issues?

    • I would encourage you to speak with your doctor and explain all of your symptoms – there are quick and easy test to assess thyroid health including whether you have an autoimmune thyroid condition. A proper diagnosis is important!

  6. Thanks for this article! To add to your anecdotal picture:

    My daughter and I have oral lichen planus as well as Hashimoto’s. For me the lichen planus was noted for decades and was pretty asymptomatic before I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s after having my thyroid removed due to its enlargement and family history. My daughter is queen of AI and only 24. Her first AI diagnosis was Celiac, though we suspect lymphocytic colitis must also be autoimmune and she got that diagnosis first. So it went LC, then celiac, then vitiligo, then lichen planus. My son has developed vitiligo as well and is likely either non-celiac gluten sensitive or has Celiac–still investigating. My brother has Hashi’s but no other known manifestations of AI. Neither of my parents showed up as having anything autoimmune though my father had peptic ulcers and died young (54) of medullary thyroid cancer.

    I think it would be a fabulous service if dentists would mention the connection between lichen planus and Hashimoto’s to their patients. Mine was fascinated by my lichen planus but had no other info. I’ll be taking him this article!

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  8. I Sandy April 3rd am commenting
    I was diagnosed with lichen plantus about 1year later got vertigo then shingles all autoimmune thinking about having my thyroid checked bc I got no answers on why I keep getting all of these conditions. In August of 2015 got DCIS breast cancer. Thank goodness I’m a survivor caught it in time.

  9. Hi,

    I’ve recently been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s after 20 odd years of feeling not quite right. I’ve had lichen planus on and off for that whole time. I am exploring best options (i am on levo with no sign of improvement) and am bombarded on the internet with people telling me to cut out gluten. I am not keen on such a change but am obviously prepared to try, however you mentioned ‘it has also been shown that a gluten free diet doesn’t make Hashimoto’s go away or get better.’ I’d be grateful to know what these studies are and how much science there is to back this up. It’s so hard to get reliable information and I’m a bit lost at the moment. thanks for your help

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