What is Lichen sclerosus
Lichen sclerosus is a skin disorder that can affect men, women, or children, but is most common in women. It usually occurs on the vulva (the outer genitalia or sex organ) in women, but sometimes develops on the head of the penis in men. Occasionally, lichen sclerosus is seen on other parts of the body, especially the upper body, breasts, and upper arms. Other names for lichen sclerosus include kraurosis vulvae and hypoplastic dystrophy. Doctors think a too active immune system and hormone problems may play a role in the cause of lichen sclerosus. It is also thought that people inherit the likelihood of getting the disease. Sometimes, lichen sclerosus appears on skin that has been damaged or scarred from some other previous injury. Early in the disease, small white spots appear on the skin. The spots are usually shiny and smooth. Later, the spots grow into bigger patches. The skin on the patches becomes thin and crinkled. Then the skin tears easily, and bright red or purple bruises are common. Sometimes, the skin becomes scarred. If the disease is a mild case, there may be no symptoms.
Lichen sclerosus (LS) affects the skin leading to scarring around the genital and anal areas. It can occur at any age but mainly occurs in women over the age of 50. It mainly affects the skin around the vagina, anus, and tip of the penis. Symptoms can include white lesions or plaques, pain during urination, itching, and pain during intercourse. Some people have no symptoms, while others may experience itchiness (sometimes severe), discomfort, or blistering. LS can last for years and can cause permanent scarring and damage if left untreated. The underlying cause of lichen sclerosus is not known, but it is thought to relate to an autoimmune process. Diagnosis is based on the symptoms and clinical exam. A skin biopsy may be done to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment is focused on managing the symptoms and stopping the progression of the disease. It may include topical steroids or other types of topical creams and/or surgery.
This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)
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