A localized patch of abnormal thickening and whitening on the tongue, the lining of the mouth, the lips, or the genital area. Affected areas may be yellowish white and leathery. The lesions may be precancerous. By the time pain is present, there is usually an advanced lesion.

Leukoplakia may result from chronic irritation in the mouth caused by tobacco, highly seasoned food, alcoholic drinks, excessive heat, trauma, jagged teeth, or dentures. The first step in treatment is to remove the cause of the irritation. Good oral hygiene must be established.

Early, thin leukoplakia that fails to respond to conservative measures should be removed completely after a biopsy has been performed. Larger lesions may require more than one operation for surgical removal. Regular reexamination of treated areas is advisable in case there is a serious recurrence.

Leukoplakia can also occur in the vulvar or vaginal area in women or on the penis in men.

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