Lichen Sclerosus: What is it? Causes and Treatment

It’s likely that you have never heard of lichen sclerosus before. However, this skin condition is not uncommon. It is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that typically affects the genital region and can affect women of any age. Although it is more often found in postmenopausal women.  Serious disease can lead to pain, scarring, urinary retention, constipation, and if untreated, possibly squamous cell carcinoma. 

 

What are the symptoms? 

Mild disease may not cause symptoms at all. Although women may experience genital:  

·         Redness 

·         Itching that can be severe 

·         Pain  

·         Smooth or wrinkly white patches  

·         Ulcerations or fissures and bleeding 

·         Painful intercourse 

What causes lichen sclerosus? 

The actual cause is uncertain. There is evidence showing there may be an autoimmune cause. Genetics, hormonal imbalances, and previous injury to the skin are also possible causes. There does not appear to be any infectious cause and lichen sclerosus is not contagious. It cannot be spread through sexual contact.  

How is it diagnosed? 

Lichen sclerosus can usually be diagnosed during an exam by a healthcare provider. Sometimes a small biopsy of the affected area is required.  

How is it treated?  

The goal of treatment is to reduce pain and itching and decrease further skin damage. Most commonly, lichen sclerosus is treated with steroid ointments. Aside from prescription options, there are lifestyle changes that can be done at home to help.  

If you have symptoms similar to those associated with lichen sclerosus, please give us a call and we will be happy to help you. 

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