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(Hairy Leukoplakia; Smoker’s Keratosis)
- Pipe or cigarette smoking
- Chewing tobacco or snuff
- Rough teeth
- Rough places on dentures, fillings, or crowns
- Tobacco use, especially smokeless tobacco
- Long-time alcohol use
- Having a weakened immune system such as from HIV
Lesions on the tongue or gums, inside of the cheeks, or on the vulva
- White, gray, or red in color
- Thick, slightly raised, or hardened on the surface
- Sensitivity to touch, heat, or spicy foods
- Pain or other signs of infection
- Hairy leukoplakia is painless, with a fuzzy, white appearance
|Oral Thrush—Resembles Leukoplakia|
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- Removing the irritant—Quitting smoking or correcting dental problems often takes care of the problem.
- Removing patches—If the problem persists, or if signs of cancer are present, your dentist or doctor may need to remove patches of leukoplakia.
- Taking medication—For hairy leukoplakia, the doctor may prescribe antiviral medications, or a solution to apply to the skin.
- If you smoke, talk to your doctor about how you can successfully quit.
- Avoid or limit your use of alcohol.
- See a dentist regularly, especially if you have rough places in your mouth.
Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association http://www.mouthhealthy.org
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research http://www.nidcr.nih.gov
Canadian Dental Association http://www.cda-adc.ca
Canadian Dental Hygienists Association http://www.cdha.ca
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 13, 2014. Accessed August 14, 2014.
Hairy leukoplakia. DermNet NZ website. Available at: http://dermnetnz.org/site-age-specific/hairy-leukoplakia.html. Updated December 29, 2013. Accessed August 14, 2014.
Oral hairy leukoplakia. AETC National Resource Center website. Available at: http://aidsetc.org/guide/oral-hairy-leukoplakia. Published April 2014. Accessed August 14, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 08/2014
- Update Date: 09/30/2013