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.

Topical treatment for lichen sclerosus

The symptoms of lichen sclerosus are most often treated with ointments or creams that are applied directly to the affected area. This is called a topical application. Topical treatments for lichen sclerosus include:

  • Corticosteroids such as clobetasol propionate (Clobex, Cormax)
  • Immune-modulating creams such as pimecrolimus (Elidel) and tacrolimus (Protopic)

Nontopical treatment for lichen sclerosus

Nontopical treatments for lichen sclerosus include:

  • Steroids given by injection such as triamcinolone (Aristocort)
  • Surgery to reopen a narrowed vagina

Treatment for resistant lichen sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus may be related to a bacterial infection that needs to be treated. Antibiotic medications that are effective in the treatment of a bacterial infection that is causing the resistant lichen sclerosus include:

  • Cephalexin (Keflex, Keftab)
  • Erythromycin (E-mycin, E.E.S.)

Lichen sclerosus may cause vulvodynia, or chronic pain in the vulva. Medications that are effective in the treatment of vulvodynia-related lichen sclerosus include:

  • Amitriptyline (Elavil, Endep)
  • Desipramine (Norpramin)

What you can do to improve your lichen sclerosus

In addition to following your health care provider's instructions and taking all medications as prescribed, you can speed up your recovery by:

  • 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 are the potential complications of lichen sclerosus?

Lichen sclerosus is a chronic skin condition affecting the genital area that cannot be cured but can be controlled. Lichen sclerosus of the genital skin should be treated promptly as it may cause problems with urination or sexual intercourse. There is also a very small chance that the skin affected by lichen sclerosus will develop skin cancer. Lichen sclerosus can be treated with topical ointments or creams and the symptoms should clear up in a few weeks. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of lichen sclerosus include:

  • Dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse)
  • Dysuria (difficulty urinating)
  • Embarrassment
  • Small increased risk of skin cancer
INTRODUCTION

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 sclero... Read more about lichen sclerosusintroduction

SYMPTOMS

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.... Read more about lichen sclerosussymptoms

CAUSES

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.... Read more about lichen sclerosuscauses

Medical Reviewer: All content has been reviewed by board-certified physicians under the direction of Rich Klasco, M.D., FACEP. Last Annual Review Date: May 2, 2011 Copyright: © Copyright 2011 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails


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