Lichen sclerosus is a long-term inflammatory skin condition. It creates patches of shiny white skin that are thinner than normal. The condition can affect any part of your body, but it most commonly affects the skin in the genital and anal regions. Lichen sclerosus can occur at any age but is most common in postmenopausal women. Treatment for lichen sclerosus typically involves the use of topical steroids, but in severe cases, oral steroids may be necessary. There is no cure for lichen sclerosus, but with treatment, the symptoms can be controlled.
What are the symptoms of lichen sclerosus?
The most common symptom of lichen sclerosus is the development of thin, white patches of skin. These patches are often itchy and can bleed easily.
Other symptoms include:
- Painful intercourse
- Difficulty urinating
- Discomfort during bowel movements
- Tearing or cracking of the skin
What causes lichen sclerosus?
The cause of lichen sclerosus is unknown. However, it is believed to be an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body's immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissue, causing inflammation and the development of the characteristic white patches. It is also thought to be related to hormone imbalances. It is also possible that lichen sclerosus is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Lichen sclerosus is not contagious and cannot be passed from person to person.
How is lichen sclerosus treated?
The goal of treatment for lichen sclerosus is to reduce inflammation and relieve symptoms. The most common treatment is the use of topical corticosteroids. These are potent anti-inflammatory medications that are applied directly to the affected area. Topical steroids can be used in the form of creams, ointments, or lotions. In severe cases, oral steroids may be necessary.
In addition to medical treatment, self-care measures can help to relieve symptoms and prevent the condition from progressing. These measures include:
- Avoiding irritants: Avoiding potential irritants, such as perfumed soaps, douches, and vaginal deodorants, can help to prevent further irritation of the affected area.
- Using gentle cleansing products: Choose mild, unscented cleansers and avoid scrubbing or using harsh soaps on the affected skin.
- Avoiding tight-fitting clothing: Wearing loose-fitting clothing can help to prevent further irritation of the affected skin.
- Using a lubricant during intercourse: Using a water-based lubricant during intercourse can help to reduce pain and discomfort.
Are there any complications associated with lichen sclerosus?
If left untreated, lichen sclerosus can lead to the development of scar tissue. This can cause the affected area to shrink and become narrower. In severe cases, lichen sclerosus can cause the skin to fuse together, which can make urination and bowel movements difficult or impossible. Lichen sclerosus can also increase the risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer. However, this is rare.
Lichen sclerosus is a long-term inflammatory skin condition that can affect any part of your body but is most common in postmenopausal women. The most common symptom is the development of thin, white patches of skin. Treatment for lichen sclerosus typically involves the use of topical steroids, but in severe cases, oral steroids may be necessary. There is no cure for lichen sclerosus, but with treatment, the symptoms can be controlled. Self-care measures, such as avoiding potential irritants and using gentle cleansing products, can also help to relieve symptoms and prevent the condition from progressing. With treatment, the symptoms of lichen sclerosus can be controlled