Laugier-Hunziker Syndrome & Skin Pigmentation

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Laugier-Hunziker syndrome (LHS) is a condition in which there are usually dark pigmented patches on the lips and in the mouth. About half of the people with LHS will also find dark pigmentation (hyperpigmentation) in the fingernails.

What does Laugier-Hunziker syndrome look like?

Hyperpigmentation of the mouth is most commonly found inside the cheeks and on the lips, but can be found anywhere inside the mouth. Hyperpigmented areas are usually brown, black or grey and are smooth in texture. They are usually about 5mm wide or less, but can be as large as 1cm.

This hyperpigmentation can also be found on the nails and skin. When the pigmentation is found on the nails it is permanent. The hyperpigmentation is usually found as vertical streaks across the nail and can sometimes extend into the nail fold.

What causes Laugier-Hunziker syndrome?

The cause of LHS is unknown. It is found that melanin in the skin is thick and even. It has been noticed that there is usually a lack of melanocyte growth in LHS.

Who can get Laugier-Hunziker syndrome?

LHS is a rare disease, but it is thought that many people with the syndrome will not see a doctor about it. This means that it often goes unreported. There are more cases reported in France and Italy than in the UK or the US. Almost all cases have been in Europe.

LHS affects mainly white people. It was originally thought that LHS mainly affected women but it is now thought that it affects both men and women equally. Hyperpigmentation caused by LHS usually develops between the ages of 20 and 40 years, however it can develop as late as ages 60 to 80 years.

Is Laugier-Hunziker syndrome dangerous?

LHS does not cause death or any illness and does not cause any other problems.

There is no treatment for LHS but it should be checked that the hyperpigmentation found is due to LHS and not a more dangerous disease. It is possible to lessen the appearance of the hyperpigmentation by undergoing laser surgery or cryosurgery.

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