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Keywords:

  • aloe vera;
  • lichen planus;
  • oral cavity;
  • randomized controlled trial

Summary

Background  Oral lichen planus (OLP) is a chronic inflammatory disease that can be painful especially in the atrophic and erosive forms. Several therapies have been tried, with varying results. There is one case report in which aloe vera (AV) was used successfully in the treatment of lichen planus.

Objectives  To compare the efficacy of AV and placebo in the topical management of OLP.

Methods  A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was designed. Fifty-four patients were randomized into two groups to receive AV gel or placebo for 8 weeks.

Results  Fifty-four consecutive patients (34 women and 20 men) participated in the study. We found erosive and ulcerative lesions in 83% and 17%, respectively. The most common site of OLP was the lower lip. Twenty-two of 27 patients treated with AV (81%) had a good response after 8 weeks of treatment, while one of 27 placebo-treated patients (4%) had a similar response (< 0·001). Furthermore, two patients treated with AV (7%) had a complete clinical remission. Burning pain completely disappeared in nine patients treated with AV (33%) and in one treated with placebo (4%) (= 0·005). Symptomatology improved by at least 50% (good response) in 17 patients treated with AV (63%) and in two treated with placebo (7%) (< 0·001). No serious side-effects were found in both groups.

Conclusions  AV gel is statistically significantly more effective than placebo in inducing clinical and symptomatological improvement of OLP. Therefore, AV gel can be considered a safe alternative treatment for patients with OLP.