Lichen Sclerosus: Causes & Treatments
Lichen sclerosus is an uncommon condition that results in discoloration, white patches, and thinning of the skin. It occurs most frequently on the genitals, but can show up on any part of the body.
For those affected by lichen sclerosus, the disorder can be long-term and cause discomfort and scarring if not properly managed.
So, why do some patients experience this condition, and how do they alleviate their symptoms? Here’s what you need to know about the causes and treatment of lichen sclerosus.
Symptoms of Lichen Sclerosus
In addition to white patches and thinning skin, patients with lichen sclerosus may experience itching, cracking, sores, and pain with intercourse and urination when the genitals are involved.
Who’s at Risk for Lichen Sclerosus?
Post-menopausal women between the ages of 40 -60 have the highest risk for lichen sclerosus.
While uncircumcised men have a greater chance of getting lichen sclerosus on their foreskin, male patients are six times less likely to be affected by the skin condition than their female counterparts.
Additionally, children have the lowest risk for lichen sclerosus, and pre-pubescent girls are most prone within this group.
What Causes Lichen Sclerosus?
The exact cause of lichen sclerosus has not been identified. However, contributing factors may include: Family history of the disorder, hormonal imbalance, overactive immune system, and prior damage from another skin condition.
Despite its prevalence on the genitals, lichen sclerosus is not contagious or caused by sexual contact.
Lichen Sclerosus Treatment and Management
While there is not a cure for lichen sclerosus, early diagnosis can result in effective treatment and management of symptoms. Topical corticosteroids applied directly to the affected area are often the first course of action, as they reduce inflammation and itching.
In more severe instances, doctors may recommend surgical excision of scar tissue around the vagina to alleviate pain and discomfort. Circumcision may also be advised for men that have thinning and tightening of their foreskin.