Lichen sclerosus is an uncommon condition that creates patchy, white skin that is normally thinner than unaffected skin and any part of your body is susceptible to it.
Lichen sclerosus may affect the skin on any body part, but most often involves the skin of the vulva, foreskin or the skin around the anus. Anyone is at a risk of getting lichen sclerosus but women in post menopause stand the highest risk.
If left untreated, this condition may lead to other complications. Sometimes though, lichen sclerosus may improve on its own. In such a case, one needs no treatment; the doctor may suggest options to return to a more normal appearance to the skin and decrease the tendency of scarring.
Lichen sclerosus signs and symptoms
As earlier stated, lichen sclerosus can affect the skin on any part of the body. It comes with mild to severe itching, painful intercourse, discomfort if it appears around the genital and anal areas, easy bruising or tearing, smooth white spots on one’s skin that may grow into blotchy, wrinkled patches and in severe cases, it causes blistering and bleeding.
When to seek medical attention for Lichen sclerosus
Should one notice any of the above signs and symptoms, he should see a doctor immediately to receive effective treatments to manage the discomfort and prevent complications. After lichen sclerosus has been diagnosed, the victim should visit a doctor every six to twelve months to be checked on any skin changes or to treat any side effects.
Lichen sclerosus causes
The precise cause of this infection is not known though it may be related to a lack of hormones in the affected area of skin, or to an overactive immune system. Any prior damage to a particular site on the skin may increase the chances of another infection at the same location. Although lichen sclerosus may involve skin around the genitals, it is not contagious thus never spreads through sexual intercourse.
Besides postmenopausal women, it occurs in men and children, although seldom. In women, it involves the vulva whereas in boys and men, uncircumcised males are most at risk since the disease mostly targets the foreskin. In children though, the signs and symptoms may improve at puberty.
Constant lichen sclerosus in one location may somewhat increase the risk of skin cancer although this fact has not yet been proved. Follow-up examinations thus become necessary every six to twelve months for a victim.
Lichen sclerosus treatment
Sexual intercourse may be extremely painful for women due to itching and scarring that may narrow their vaginal opening. Blistering also creates sensitive skin to the point that any pressure on the area becomes agonizing. In uncircumcised males however, it may not cause similar complications since it tightens and thins the foreskin causing erection problems and pains during urination. If the genitals aren’t affected, one may not need treatment as the condition often gets better on its own.
Men are advised to get circumcised as the removal of the foreskin reduces the risk of infection. To women, surgery in the genital area isn’t recommended since lichen sclerosus may reoccur after the surgery.