Lichen sclerosis is a condition which causes a dermatitis on the skin. It can manifest on the genitals or other areas of skin. Lichen sclerosis is more common in women, but it is seen in both genders. The most common presentation of lichen sclerosis is the formation of white plaque-like lesions on the skin.
The cause of lichen sclerosis is not well understood. It is far more common in women, but men can be effected as well. Current theories point to it being an autoimmune disorder – which would partially explain why is is more common in women, as women are more frequently effected by autoimmune disorders. Women who are going through menopause are more likely to be effected by lichen sclerosis, but younger women are certainly not exempt from this problem. There is also some evidence that lichen sclerosis could be caused by bacterial or viral infections.
Lichen sclerosis is most commonly seen on the external genitalia of a woman or man. It can also be found around the anus. It typically presents as a series of white, elevated lesions. These lesions are typically flat, and can be shiny. Some people will experience a fair amount of itching, although this is not present in every person who is effected.
Lichen sclerosis can cause the skin around the genitals to become thinner than normal. This can cause sexual intercourse and defecation to be painful or uncomfortable in some people. Again, this does not happen in everyone who is effected, but it is a fairly common symptom.
Diagnosing lichen sclerosis can be problematic. It is often confused with thrush, which is an infection with a fungus. The treatment for thrush is different from that of lichen sclerosis however.
Once it has been properly diagnosed, it is important to treat lichen sclerosis aggressively. The most common treatment for lichen sclerosis is a topical steroid. Treatment can take quite a long time as this condition can persist for many months before it resolves completely. Lichen sclerosis has been associated with an increased risk for developing skin cancer. For this reason alone, the disorder must be carefully monitored by a doctor until it has completely resolved.
In some cases a doctor may choose to attempt removal of the lesions with a laser or a scalpel. These treatment options are not very common, especially compared to the use of topical steroids. They are typically second-line treatments.
If you have questions about the symptoms and treatments of lichen sclerosis, have a talk with your doctor. This disorder is not a medical emergency, but it should be followed and treated carefully in order to limit the risk of long-term complications.