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With leukoplakia (loo-koh-PLAY-key-uh), thickened, white patches form on your gums, the insides of your cheeks, the bottom of your mouth and, sometimes, your tongue. These patches can't be scraped off.

Doctors don't know what causes leukoplakia but consider tobacco — whether smoked, dipped or chewed — to be the main culprit in its development.

Leukoplakia usually isn't dangerous, but it can sometimes be serious. Although most leukoplakia patches are noncancerous (benign), some show early signs of cancer. Many cancers on the floor of the mouth — beneath the tongue — occur next to areas of leukoplakia. For that reason, it's best to see your dentist if you have unusual, persistent changes in your mouth.

Lewy body dementia, the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer's disease, causes a progressive decline in mental abilities.

It may also cause visual hallucinations, which generally take the form of objects, people or animals that aren't there. This can lead to unusual behavior such as having conversations with deceased loved ones.

Another indicator of Lewy body dementia may be significant fluctuations in alertness and attention, which may include daytime drowsiness or periods of staring into space. And, like Parkinson's disease, Lewy body dementia can result in rigid muscles, slowed movement and tremors.

In Lewy body dementia, protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, develop in nerve cells in regions of your brain involved in thinking, memory and movement (motor control).

Lice are tiny, wingless, parasitic insects that feed on your blood. Lice are easily spread — especially by schoolchildren — through close personal contact and by sharing belongings.

Several types of lice exist:

  • Head lice. These lice develop on your scalp. They're easiest to see at the nape of your neck and over your ears.
  • Body lice. These lice live in clothing and on bedding and move on to your skin to feed. Body lice most often affect people — such as homeless or transient individuals — who aren't able to bathe or launder clothing regularly.
  • Pubic lice. Commonly called crabs, these lice occur on the skin and hair of your pubic area and, less frequently, on coarse body hair, such as chest hair, eyebrows or eyelashes.

You or your child can have good personal hygiene habits and still get lice. Unless treated properly, this condition can become a recurring problem.

Lichen nitidus (LIE-kun ni-TIE-dus) is a rare skin condition that usually appears as tiny, skin-colored, glistening bumps on the surface of your skin. Lichen nitidus results from abnormal inflammatory activity in skin cells, but the cause of inflammation is unknown.

Although lichen nitidus may affect anyone, it typically develops in children and young adults. Lichen nitidus rarely causes discomfort and usually clears up on its own without treatment.

Lichen nitidus doesn't increase your risk of skin cancer, and it isn't an infectious disease that can spread to other people.

Lichen planus (LIE-kun PLAY-nus) is an inflammatory condition that can affect your skin and mucous membranes.

On the skin, lichen planus usually appears as purplish, often itchy, flat-topped bumps. In your mouth, vagina and other areas covered by a mucous membrane, lichen planus forms lacy white patches, sometimes with painful sores.

Lichen planus occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks cells of the skin or mucous membranes. The reason for this abnormal immune response is unknown. You can't catch lichen planus or give it to another person. Most people can manage typical, mild cases of lichen planus at home, without prescribed medical treatment. If the condition causes pain or significant itching, you may need medication to suppress your immune system.

Lichen sclerosus (LIE-kun skluh-ROW-sus) is an uncommon condition that creates patchy, white skin that's thinner than normal. Lichen sclerosus may affect skin on any part of your body, but most often involves skin of the vulva, foreskin of the penis or skin around the anus.

Anyone can get lichen sclerosus, but postmenopausal women are at highest risk. Left untreated, lichen sclerosus may lead to other complications.

You may not need treatment because sometimes lichen sclerosus improves on its own. If you do need treatment, your doctor can suggest options to return a more normal appearance to your skin and decrease the tendency for scarring.

Limited scleroderma, or CREST syndrome, is one subtype of scleroderma — a condition that literally means "hardened skin."

The skin changes associated with limited scleroderma typically occur only in the lower arms and legs and sometimes the face and throat. Limited scleroderma can also affect your digestive tract.

The problems caused by limited scleroderma may be minor. Sometimes, however, the disease affects the lungs or heart, with potentially serious results. Limited scleroderma has no known cure, and treatments focus on managing symptoms and preventing serious complications.

A lipoma is a slow-growing, fatty lump that's most often situated between your skin and the underlying muscle layer. A lipoma, which feels doughy and usually isn't tender, moves readily with slight finger pressure. Lipomas are usually detected in middle age. Some people have more than one lipoma.

A lipoma isn't cancer and usually is harmless. Treatment generally isn't necessary, but if the lipoma bothers you, is painful or is growing, you may want to have it removed.

Listeria infection is a foodborne bacterial illness that can be very serious for pregnant women and people with impaired immune systems. Listeria infection is most commonly contracted by eating improperly processed deli meats and unpasteurized milk products.

Healthy people rarely become ill from listeria infection, but the disease can be fatal to unborn babies and newborns. People who have weakened immune systems also are at higher risk of life-threatening complications. Prompt antibiotic treatment can help curb the effects of listeria infection.

Listeria bacteria can survive refrigeration and even freezing. That's why people who are at higher risk of serious infections should avoid eating the types of food most likely to contain listeria bacteria.

Liver cancer is cancer that begins in the cells of your liver. Your liver is a football-sized organ that sits in the upper right portion of your abdomen, beneath your diaphragm and above your stomach.

The most common form of liver cancer is hepatocellular carcinoma, which begins in the main type of liver cell (hepatocyte). Other types of cells in the liver can develop cancer, but these are much less common.

Not all cancers that affect the liver are considered liver cancer. Cancer that begins in another area of the body — such as the colon, lung or breast — and then spreads to the liver is called metastatic cancer rather than liver cancer. And this type of cancer is named after the organ in which it began — such as metastatic colon cancer to describe cancer that begins in the colon and spreads to the liver.