Leukoplakia is the medical term that refers to a wound in the form of a white patch. As a general rule, it appears on the tongue, cheek cheeks or the rest of the oral cavity.
However, it can also appear on the vaginal mucosa (although it is less frequent). Also, there are variants that have other colors, fissures, and characteristic rough touch.
Symptoms of leukoplakia
The most characteristic lesion is the whitish ulcer that presents variants in terms of its shape. It usually appears in the oral cavity and patients complain of discomfort that is intensified by certain factors such as heat or very spicy food.
Causes of leukoplakia
Leukoplakia can develop after a period of time in which that area has suffered prolonged irritation. On the other hand, there is no specific cause that triggers this disorder, but we can mention the factors that favor its development:
- Excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco.
- Poor placement of dental prostheses.
- Poor oral hygiene.
- Certain infectious pathologies. The Epstein-Barr virus, hairy leukoplakia cause a subtype. In it grow a thin hair on the entire area affected by the ulcer.
- Diseases that weaken the immune system. For example, patients who have HIV (in the early stages) or have recently received a bone marrow transplant. They also present hairy leukoplakia.
- Cancer in the oral cavity.
Diagnosis of leukoplakia
A physical examination is usually performed where leukoplakia can be seen. A scraping of the lesion or removal of part of it in a biopsy is also carried out to determine if the leukoplakia is caused by oral cancer.
The biological material is analyzed in Pathological Anatomy laboratories and depending on the result, one treatment or another will be initiated according to the origin of the lesion.
The appearance of cancer in the epithelial transition zones is common. That is, when there is a passage from the skin to the mucosa (as is the case of the lips, vagina or anus) it is more frequent that injuries occur. An ulcer does not involve malignancy in itself, but if it is not treated in the early stages, it can end up resulting in cancer.
For this reason, it is important to diagnose leukoplakia in the early stages of evolution so as not to give rise to complications that involve the patient’s life risk. Tumors that debonate with leukoplakia tend to be aggressive and difficult to treat.
Treatment of leukoplakia
The final goal of the treatment consists in the elimination of the lesion that it presents in the buccal or vaginal cavity. If the cause has been detected, the treatment will eliminate that factor. For example, stop smoking, do not drink alcohol or avoid roughness in the teeth or mouth devices (such as prosthetics).
Within a few weeks or months of taking this measure, the ulcer will be reduced and eliminated by itself gradually.
In the most serious cases, the medical team may recommend performing a surgical operation. For this, the patient will be anesthetized locally, and the entire affected region will be removed. In this type of surgical interventions, it is tried not to affect the aspect of the region to avoid repercussions at the aesthetic level.
Prevention of leukoplakia
We can cite a series of healthy habits or measures that we can adopt in order to avoid this alteration. Among them, we emphasize the very reduced or no consumption of tobacco and alcohol. It is also necessary to maintain proper oral hygiene together with a care of the teeth and the mouthparts.
On the other hand, this problem may arise without having any recognized cause. In this case, there would be no possible prevention since the development of leukoplakia would be random.
Likewise, a healthy diet adapted to us, along with moderate physical activity, serve as a natural prevention measure for a large class of diseases while maintaining an adequate state of health.
In any case, if you feel any of the characteristic symptoms mentioned, it is advisable to inform the corresponding medical team.