Lichen sclerosus

 
 

Overview

A recurrent uncommon condition characterized by patches of white skin that appear thinner than usual, particularly around the genitals and anus. Sometimes, the condition does not warrant additional treatment, but extended care is often needed to manage symptoms.

While the exact cause of this condition is unknown, some believe that a dysfunctional autoimmune system or a hormonal imbalance may be relevant factors in its development. Both male and female adults and children can be affected; for children, the signs and symptoms may improve once they reach puberty. The condition is not contagious and cannot be spread through sexual intercourse despite typically affecting the genitals.

Common Symptoms

People with this condition may experience redness, severe itching, discomfort/pain, smooth white skin patches, blotchy, wrinkled skin patches, tearing/bleeding, painful sex, and severe bleeding, blisters, or ulcerated sores. They may also experience no symptoms.

Coexisting Diseases and Conditions

Squamous cell carcinoma of the affected area, lichen simplex, psoriasis, erosive lichen planus, vitiligo, morphea, thyroid disease, pernicious anemia, and alopecia areata.

Risk Factors

The incidence of lichen sclerosus tends to be higher in females, particularly after menopause, even though anyone can develop the condition. It has also been known to affect the foreskin in uncircumcised males. Specific areas of the skin that have been previously damaged are also at an increased risk for developing lichen sclerosus. Lastly, having a family history of the condition or other autoimmune diseases can put you at an increased risk of contracting the condition.

Sources

  1. Article Sources
    1. Gómez-Frieiro, M., & Laynez-Herrero, E. (2019). Use of Er:YAG laser in the treatment of vulvar lichen sclerosus. International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, 5(5), 340–344. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijwd.2019.05.007

    2. Kirtschig, G., Becker, K., Günthert, A., Jasaitiene, D., Cooper, S., Chi, C.-C., Kreuter, A., Rall, K. K., Aberer, W., Riechardt, S., Casabona, F., Powell, J., Brackenbury, F., Erdmann, R., Lazzeri, M., Barbagli, G., & Wojnarowska, F. (2015). Evidence-based (S3) Guideline on (anogenital) Lichen sclerosus. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, 29(10), e1–e43. https://doi.org/10.1111/jdv.13136

    3. Lichen Sclerosus. (n.d.). NORD (National Organization for Rare Disorders). Retrieved from https://rarediseases.org/rare-diseases/lichen-sclerosus/

    4. Lichen sclerosus—Symptoms and causes. (n.d.). Mayo Clinic. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lichen-sclerosus/symptoms-causes/syc-20374448

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