Lichen Sclerosus is an uncommon skin condition that creates patches of white skin that is thinner than normal. It can affect any part of the body, but it is commonly seen around the genital and anal area.
People with mild cases of Lichen Sclerosus may have no signs and symptoms aside from a visible shiny, whitish discoloration of the skin. Since this condition commonly affects the genital and anal area, they may not be noticed unless other symptoms occur. Symptoms may include:
- Itching (mild to severe)
- Pain and discomfort
- Painful intercourse
- Bleeding due to tear
- Ulcerations, blistering
There is no known cause of Lichen Sclerosus. However, an overactive immune system, hormonal imbalance, or previous trauma may contribute to its development. Lichen Sclerosus is not contagious, and won’t spread through physical contact or sexual intercourse.
People who have a higher risk of developing this condition include:
- Postmenopausal females (commonly affected area is the vulva).
- Uncircumcised males (affects the foreskin).
- Children who haven’t gone thru puberty.
In children, lichen sclerosus may resolve on its own after puberty.
Lichen Sclerosus can cause bruises, cuts, blisters and ulcerations which can lead to infections if not kept clean. Since the affected area is often in the genital and anal areas, infections can be hard to prevent and treat.
The most serous complication of lichen sclerosus it can develop into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell carcenoma, which resemble red lumps, ulcers or crusted areas.
Lichen sclerosus rarely gets better on its own and recurrence is common. Treatment involves reducing itching, improving the appearance of the affected area and reducing further scarring.
Topical conticosteroids are commonly used as an initial treatment for lichen sclerosus. Continuous monitoring should be observed and follow-up treatments and consultations should be done to prevent recurrence.
Surgical removal of foreskin in males is recommended for advanced cases or for those resistant to traditional/topical treatments.