Although lichen sclerosis is not a common condition, it is one that can cause a great deal of emotional, physical, and sexual pain.
In some cases, women may be unable to comfortably engage in sexual activity, have difficulty sleeping, or limit fluid consumption to avoid burning with urination.
If you would like to learn more about this little-known skin disease, continue reading for lichen sclerosis symptoms, risk factors, and treatment.
What Is Lichen Sclerosis?
Lichen sclerosis is an inflammatory skin disorder that can affect any skin surface, but typically occurs on the vulva and sometimes the penis.
The condition is often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed as a yeast infection by patients and providers. As a result, women do not receive the appropriate treatment and continue to endure symptoms.
What Are the Symptoms of Lichen Sclerosis?
Individuals with lichen sclerosis typically experience smooth white patches on vulvar skin, intense itching, tearing of the skin, discomfort or pain, which intensify with urination and defecation, and blisters or ulcerated sores.
What Causes Lichen Sclerosis?
Researchers have yet to determine a definitive cause for lichen sclerosis. However, some evidence suggests that it is autoimmune in nature.
Who Is at Risk for Lichen Sclerosis?
While lichen sclerosis can affect women of any age, it is more likely to occur before puberty or after menopause.
It is also important to note that the condition is not contagious, sexually transmitted, or life-threatening. It can however result in severe discomfort, harm intimate relationships, and significantly reduce quality of life.
How to Treat Lichen Sclerosis?
Once lichen sclerosis is properly diagnosed, it is best treated with clobetasol (Temovate), which is a powerful corticosteroid ointment.
Initially, patients will need to apply the ointment several times as day. Treatment frequency gradually decreases as symptoms improve.
Learn More About Lichen Sclerosis
If you are experiencing symptoms similar to those of lichen sclerosis, please call our office today to schedule a consultation with board-certified gynecologist Dr. Melinda Hall.