What is Lichen Sclerosus?
Lichen Sclerosus is a rare skin condition that usually appears on your genital or anal areas. The condition can also affect your breasts, upper arms, and torso.
Lichen sclerosus mostly affects adult women after menopause, however, other people can get it too.
The actual cause of lichen sclerosus is yet to be known by doctors. Some possible causes they suspect include:
- old skin injury
- immune system
Some people may not have any symptoms at all. Possible symptoms of lichen scelerosus include:
- Small white patches on skin that may be smooth and white
- Skin may tear easily causing large bruises
- Scarring, blistering or bleeding of skin
Diagnosing Lichen Sclerosus
A physical exam may be performed by your doctor to check how your skin looks. A biopsy may be performed by taking a small sample of your skin and sending it to a lab to be viewed under a microscope. This will confirm or rule out the diagnosis.
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Complications of lichen sclerosus are rare, but if they do occur, they can affect the genitals. A person may develop a type of skin cancer called squamous cell cancer.
Women who have it are also at slightly higher risk for vulvar cancer. Some women may have chronic pain in the vulva or a narrowing of the vaginal opening, leading to painful sexual intercourse.
Lichen sclerosus has no cure, though there are treatments that can help.
Ensure you treat lichen sclerous if you have it on your genitals, even if you don’t have symptoms. Untreated lichen sclerosus can lead to sexual or urination problems.
A steroid cream may be recommended by your doctor to apply on the affected area. This can stop the itching. But it may take longer for the skin to return to a more normal appearance.
Your doctor may prescribe retinoids, ultraviolet light therapy, or tacrolimus ointment, if the cortisone cream is not effective.
In rare cases, if a woman has severe vaginal scarring, surgery may be required to remove the patches on the genital area.
In men, circumcision is performed to treat lichen sclerosus by removing the foreskin of the penis.
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