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