Lichen sclerosis is a skin disorder that is more common in women but it can also affect men and children. Lichen sclerosis usually occurs on the genitals but in some cases it can occur on the other parts of the body. When it affects females it generally involves the vulva and the parts around anus. Lichen sclerosis affects men who are not circumcised. This condition involves only the skin and never spreads inside the vagina or anus to cause more complications.
The most common symptoms are tiny white spots on the genitals. The spots can be very itchy, especially at night, and they grow bigger in time. In some cases they may attach to each other. The surface of the skin affected by Lichen sclerosis can become very thin and it can be easily teared, damaged or get infected. Sometimes the affected skin can be painful to touch. It is recommended not to have sex (although Lichen sclerosis is not contagious), wear tight clothes or ride a bike while having the white spots. In some cases a patient can experience pain while urinating and passing stool. Men can have painful erections. Women can have narrowed vaginal opening. Lichen sclerosis can be undetected for months or even years because the symptoms do not occur.
The main cause for Lichen sclerosis is unknown. One probable cause is an autoimmune disorder when the immune system attacks the body. In this case it is probably connected with the other autoimmune disease such as thyroid gland disorder. Some scientists believe that this condition can be hereditary. Sometimes Lichen sclerosis can be a consequence of bacterial inflammation or abnormal hormone levels.
In order to diagnose the condition, the doctor can just examine the skin or do a biopsy. In very rare cases Lichen sclerosis will develop into a cancer. The doctor will also perform a blood test in order to check if the thyroid gland functions properly and to examine hormone levels.Lichen sclerosis is treated with the creams and the balms. The most common treatment is topical steroid ointment which is useful for relieving the inflammation. This ointment is usually applied for several months. The white spots will disappear in a couple of weeks but treatment should be continued because it takes more time for the skin to heal. It is advised to use liquid balms for cleaning the genitals instead of regular soap. If you are sexually active it is good to use lubricants. If the vaginal opening is narrowed, the doctor may suggest a vaginal dilator which is put inside the vagina in order to stretch it.