What causes lichen sclerosus?
It is not known what causes lichen sclerosus. Some health care providers believe that lichen sclerosus is caused by an overactive immune system or a hormonal imbalance. Genetic or inherited factors may play a role in its development. Lichen sclerosus is not contagious. Lichen sclerosus may appear on skin that is damaged or scarred from a previous injury. In women, lichen sclerosus occurs most commonly after menopause.
What are the risk factors for lichen sclerosus?
A number of factors increase the risk of developing lichen sclerosus. Not all people with risk factors will get lichen sclerosus. Risk factors for lichen sclerosus include:
- Hormonal imbalance
- Overactive immune system
Reducing your risk of lichen sclerosus
Some of the symptoms of lichen sclerosus such as an itching feeling may clear up on their own or after treatment with a topical ointment or cream. If your symptoms persist or recur even after treatment, you can reduce your risk of disease progression by following up with your health care provider.
You may be able to lower your risk of lichen sclerosus or its symptoms by:
- Applying petroleum jelly to the affected area to alleviate dryness
- Avoiding long-term use of topical ointments or creams that can thin the skin
- Avoiding scratching the area
- Consulting with your health care provider if symptoms persist after treatment
- Using a vaginal lubricant during intercourse to reduce friction
- Washing the genital area gently with plain water or with a nonsoap cleanser
What is lichen sclerosus?
Lichen sclerosus is a benign and progressive skin disease that most often affects the genital area. This chronic skin condition cannot be cured but can be controlled. Lichen sclerosus is marked by itching and pain in the genital area. The skin near the opening of the vagina, called the perineum, becomes thin and inflamed. This skin disorder is common in women after menopause. Lichen sclerosus i... Read more about lichen sclerosusintroduction
What are the symptoms of lichen sclerosus?
If you have a mild case of lichen sclerosus, you may not experience any symptoms. If do not have any symptoms, your health care provider will have to diagnose lichen sclerosus during your gynecologic exam. Symptomatic lichen sclerosus may cause an itching feeling, pain during urination, or pain during intercourse. You may also experience bleeding and blisters in the perineal area.
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How is lichen sclerosus treated?
Lichen sclerosus is a chronic disease for which there is no cure. However, with proper treatment and follow-up, lichen sclerosus can be effectively controlled.
Treatment begins with seeking medical care from your health care provider. A small sample of the affected skin may be removed and sent to a lab for analysis. This procedure is called a biopsy.