Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms

Hairy Leukoplakia Overview

What is hairy leukoplakia?
A person with hairy leukoplakia has a whitish, irregular coating on the sides of the tongue or lining of the mouth. By itself this condition is not contagious, but is most commonly associated with AIDS. Hairy leukoplakia has been linked to the Epstein-Barr virus in those with a poorly functioning immune system. Testing for HIV infection is important when confronted with this finding.

What are the symptoms of hairy leukoplakia?
The painless, oral lesions may appear smooth or flat, and are most often "hairy" or feathery in appearance.

How does the doctor treat hairy leukoplakia?
Treatment for hairy leukoplakia usually includes the oral antiviral medication, acyclovir. Other options include valacyclovir and famciclovir.

Continue to Hairy Leukoplakia Symptoms

Last Updated: Feb 8, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Hairy Leukoplakia References
  1. Walling DM, Flaitz CM, Hosein FG, Montes-Walters M, Nichols CM. Effect of Epstein-Barr virus replication on Langerhans cells in pathogenesis of oral hairy leukoplakia. J Infect Dis. 2004 May 1;189(9):1656-63. Epub 2004 Apr 13. [15116302]
  2. Walling DM, Flaitz CM, Nichols CM. Epstein-Barr virus replication in oral hairy leukoplakia: response, persistence, and resistance to treatment with valacyclovir. J Infect Dis. 2003 Sep 15;188(6):883-90. Epub 2003 Sep 3. [12964120]
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