What is the definition of Lichen Sclerosus?
Lichen sclerosus (LS) affects the skin leading to scarring around the genital and anal areas. It can occur at any age but mainly occurs in women over the age of 50. It mainly affects the skin around the vagina, anus, and tip of the penis. Symptoms can include white lesions or plaques, pain during urination, itching, and pain during intercourse. Some people have no symptoms, while others may experience itchiness (sometimes severe), discomfort, or blistering. LS can last for years and can cause permanent scarring and damage if left untreated. The underlying cause of lichen sclerosus is not known, but it is thought to relate to an autoimmune process. Diagnosis is based on the symptoms and clinical exam. A skin biopsy may be done to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment is focused on managing the symptoms and stopping the progression of the disease. It may include topical steroids or other types of topical creams and/or surgery.
What are the alternative names for Lichen Sclerosus?
- Lichen sclerosis
- Lichen sclerosis et atrophicus
- Lichen sclerosus et atrophicus
What are the causes for Lichen Sclerosus?
The cause of lichen sclerosus is not known. The condition may be due to a combination of genetic, hormonal, irritant and/or infectious factors.
What are the symptoms for Lichen Sclerosus?
The symptoms are the same in children and adults. Early in the disease, small, subtle white spots appear. These areas are usually slightly shiny and smooth. As time goes on, the spots develop into bigger patches, and the skin surface becomes thinned and crinkled. As a result, the skin tears easily, and bright red or purple discoloration from bleeding inside the skin is common.
Symptoms vary depending on the area affected. Patients experience different degrees of discomfort. When lichen sclerosus occurs on parts of the body other than the genital area, most often there are no symptoms other than itching. If the disease is severe, bleeding, tearing, and blistering caused by rubbing or bumping the skin can cause pain.
What are the current treatments for Lichen Sclerosus?
Treatment of lichen sclerosus is focused on managing the symptoms and keeping the disease from getting worse. Treatment options include long term use of strong topical steroid creams, immune system suppressant creams, retinoids, and other types of skin treatments like cryotherapy and laser treatments. Surgery may be an option in severe cases.
How is Lichen Sclerosus diagnosed?
Lichen sclerosus is diagnosed based on the symptoms and clinical examination. A skin biopsy may be done to help make the diagnosis.