Treatment

Leukoplakia treatment is most successful when a lesion is found and treated early, when it's small. Regular checkups are important, as is routinely inspecting your mouth for areas that don't look normal.

For most people, removing the source of irritation ― such as stopping tobacco or alcohol ― clears the condition.

When this isn't effective or if the lesions show early signs of cancer, the treatment plan may involve:

  • Removal of leukoplakia patches. Patches may be removed using a scalpel, a laser or an extremely cold probe that freezes and destroys cancer cells (cryoprobe).
  • Follow-up visits to check the area. Once you've had leukoplakia, recurrences are common.

Treating hairy leukoplakia

Usually, you don't need treatment for hairy leukoplakia. The condition often causes no symptoms and isn't likely to lead to mouth cancer.

If your doctor recommends treatment, it may include:

  • Medication. You may take a pill that affects your whole system (systemic medication), such as antiviral medications. These medications can suppress the Epstein-Barr virus, the cause of hairy leukoplakia. Topical treatment may also be used.
  • Follow-up visits. Once you stop treatment, the white patches of hairy leukoplakia may return. Your doctor may recommend regular follow-up visits to monitor changes to your mouth or ongoing therapy to prevent leukoplakia patches from returning.
May 17, 2017
References
  1. Leukoplakia. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/6897/leukoplakia. Accessed April 10, 2017.
  2. Goldstein BG, et al. Oral lesions. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 10, 2017.
  3. Sullivan JL. Clinical manifestations and treatment of Epstein-Barr virus infection. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed April 10, 2017.
  4. Lodi G, et al. Interventions for treating oral leukoplakia to prevent oral cancer (Review). Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews. http://ovidsp.tx.ovid.com/sp-3.24.1b/ovidweb.cgi?&S=OEPBFPAAJJDDEBDJNCHKEEOBALIJAA00&Link+Set=S.sh.19%7c4%7csl_50. Accessed April 10, 2017.
  5. Kayalvizhi EB, et al. Oral leukoplakia: A review and its update. Journal of Medicine, Radiology, Pathology and Surgery. 2016;2:18.
  6. Saxena A, et al. Leukoplakia: The verrucous varieties. International Journal of Stomatology and Occlusion Medicine. 2016;8:S10.
  7. Detecting oral cancer: A guide for health care professionals. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/OralCancer/DetectingOralCancer.htm#. Accessed April 12, 2017.
  8. Salinas TJ (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 18, 2017.