Background  Lichen planus (LP) is a disturbing pruritic cutaneous disease that may have an spontaneous resolution or exhibit a more chronic course during some weeks or months.

Objective  Our objective was to demonstrate that sulfasalazine is effective in the treatment of LP.

Methods  Twenty patients were diagnosed in our department with LP of the skin and/or mucosa between 1985 and 2001 on the basis of clinical and histologic findings.

Results  All patients were treated with sulfasalzine at initial doses of 1.5 g/day, increasing by 0.5 g/week to 3 g/day for 4–16 weeks. Some patients also received descendent doses for 2–12 months. Complete responses were observed in 13 patients and partial responses in seven patients. All patients reported an early resolution of the pruritus. No changes were detected in mucosal LP. Most of the patients tolerated the treatment well and only eight patients presented some minor side-effects.

Conclusion  Sulfasalazine is a successful therapeutic option for cutaneous LP, constituting an alternative to corticosteroids and retinoids.