When choosing a leukoplakia treatment, you need to consider several factors. It is important to look at what is causing the problem. Leukoplakia lesions typically develop in the mouth due to some ongoing irritation, though they can sometimes also form on a woman's genitalia for no apparent reason. Once the irritant is removed, the sore will often clear on its own, but if it does not, a doctor may need to remove it surgically. In cases of hairy leukoplakia, a variation of the condition where the lesion is fuzzy and thrush-like, treatment is usually with medication.
The main components of most leukoplakia treatment are identifying the irritant that has caused a lesion to form in the mouth and removing it. One of the most common causes of leukoplakia is tobacco use, which irritates the tissues in the mouth; if you smoke or chew tobacco, quitting can help clear sores in your mouth. Rough areas on your teeth or dental work that scrape against the inside of your mouth may also be to blame and should be corrected by a dentist. Alcohol should also be avoided, as ongoing exposure to it can also aggravate your mouth and lead to leukoplakia. Once the source of the irritation is gone, the condition often goes away spontaneously.
If you have a mouth lesion that does not clear up by itself, you may need to consider surgery as part of your leukoplakia treatment. This may be the best option for you, particularly if the lesion is tested and shows signs of becoming cancerous, which happens in a small percentage of cases. Generally, your doctor will give you local anesthesia and then remove the leukoplakia with a laser, scalpel, or a cold probe which freezes it. The same techniques can be used for women with the genital form as well.
Hairy leukoplakia treatment is somewhat different as the source of the lesion is different. These painless, fuzzy, white or gray sores are caused by the Epstein-Barr virus. This type of leukoplakia is often a problem for patients with HIV, and may even be an early sign that a patient has it. You may choose to wait and see if the problem resolves itself, or your doctor may prescribe medication to help it clear. This can include systemic antiviral drugs like valacyclovir and famciclovir, or topical medications like podophyllum resin solution and tretinoin.