Use of oral zinc in lichen planus of the mouth and vulva

Lichenoid conditions that affect the vulva may respond well to oral zinc therapy. There is evidence that those with oral and vulvar/vaginal lichenoid conditions are lower in zinc than those without.

Why zinc?

Zinc is essential for epithelial cell growth, skin healing and immune function, with anti-inflammatory effects, while being a co-factor for many enzymatic reactions.

Deficiency results in the induction of the cytotoxic activity of T-helper cells, which appears to be linked with some lichenoid conditions.

What the research tells us about zinc and lichen planus

Some of the research into lichenoid conditions is in regard to oral conditions such as oral lichen planus. The tissue of the mouth and vagina/vulva are closely aligned, and lichenoid conditions can impact both areas. This comparable tissue type allows us to make use of research in both vulvar and oral lichenoid conditions.

We know people with some lichenoid conditions have low zinc

In one study​1​ on oral lichen planus (OLP), 22 people with non-erosive OLP and 44 people without any lichenoid conditions were assessed for serum zinc levels.

The mean serum zinc levels in the erosive and non-erosive LP groups were 8.3 and 11.15 respectively, while the control group serum zinc was 15.74 umol/L. This disparity in zinc status was statistically significant, demonstrating decreased serum zinc levels in people with erosive oral lichen planus.

From a functional medicine standpoint (not reported in the study, this is the view of My Vagina) both the erosive and non-erosive groups of OLP patients were zinc deficient as a group.

Optimal zinc levels

Lab reference ranges tend to around 11-22 umol/L (72-144 μg/dL), with optimal levels being 16-17 umol/L (105-111 μg/dL).

Zinc therapy helps lichen planus – significantly

A case series​2​ of three patients with oral lichen planus who all experienced significant improvements after oral zinc treatment.

The first patient was prescribed a week of 0.1 per cent triamcinolone acetonide (steroidal) oral paste and eight weeks of twice daily oral 50mg zinc acetate. On the visual analogue scale (VAS), initially, the patient was 10/10.

Over the course of eight weeks, the lesions gradually decreased to 1/10, with a 90 per cent decrease in the size of the lesions. At the follow-up appointment after two months post-treatment, the burning sensation had completely disappeared with complete clearance of the lesions.

The second patient had a 10/10 burning sensation on VAS, with a similar treatment regime as the first patient, with an 80 per cent decrease in the size of the lesion (global index scale) in the eight weeks of treatment.

The third OLP patient was a VAS 10/10 at the start of treatment, which dropped to 4/10 at the second visit. The patient stopped treatment before the third visit, and the VAS jumped back up to 8/10. Once treatment resumed, at the eight-week mark, the lesion was decreased by 90 per cent.


  1. 1.
    Gholizadeh N, Mehdipour M, Najafi S, Bahramian A, Garjani S, Khoeini P. Evaluation of the serum zinc level in erosive and non-erosive oral lichen planus. J Dent (Shiraz). 2014;15(2):52-56.
  2. 2.
    Chaitanya N, Chintada S, Kandi P, Kanikella S, Kammari A, Waghamare R. Zinc Therapy in Treatment of Symptomatic Oral Lichen Planus. Indian Dermatol Online J. Published online 2019:174. doi:10.4103/idoj.idoj_230_18

Original price was: USD $9.95.Current price is: USD $0.00. ex GST/VAT/TAX
Original price was: USD $9.99.Current price is: USD $0.00. ex GST/VAT/TAX
Jessica Lloyd - Vulvovaginal Specialist Naturopathic Practitioner, BHSc(N)

Jessica is a degree-qualified naturopath (BHSc) specialising in vulvovaginal health and disease, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Jessica is the owner and lead naturopath of My Vagina, and is a member of the:

  • International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD)
  • International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health (ISSWSH)
  • National Vulvodynia Association (NVA) Australia
  • New Zealand Vulvovaginal Society (ANZVS)
  • Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)