Leukoplakia is a condition characterized by the formation of thickened, white patches on gums, insides of cheeks and bottom of months which can’t be scraped off. Most of these are non cancerous but it can lead to the formation of potential cancers beside the white patch area. Hairy leukoplakia which is sometimes called oral hairy leukoplakia is a type of leukoplakia that affects people of weaken immunity.
Leukoplakia appears as:
- Whitish or greyish patches that can’t be scraped away
- Texture can be irregular or flat
- Area will be hardened
- Speckled leukoplakia or erythroplakia can appear which are raised red lesions showing precancerous stage.
Actual cause of this condition is still not known however, chronic irritation from tobacco , smoking are mainly responsible. Other causes of chronic irritation are jagged, broken or sharp teeth rubbing on tongue surfaces, broken or ill-fitting dentures and long-term alcohol use.
Major complications is:
- Increase risk of oral cancer
- Hairy leukoplakia indicate HIV/AIDS
Diagnosis of this condition depends upon detailed medical history and complete general physical examination of the patient. Examination of patches, attempts to scrap the patches are also done. Other tests include:
- Oral brush biopsy
- Excisional biopsy
Following treatment options can be considered:
- Regular routine checkups are crucial
- Removal of leukoplakia patches by cryoprobe.
- Antiviral medications are prescribed to suppress the Epstein-Barr virus.