Home :: Skin Disorders :: Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus Picuture - Symptoms and Treatment

Lichen sclerosus (“like in sklerosus” as per pronounciation dictionaries.) is a skin disorder which is manifest as an inflammatory condition of the skin, the prolonged affliction becoming chronic. It affects men women and children but it is more common in women. The outer sex organ and the anal areas are often affected by the disease.

Predominantly it is the postmenopausal stage which seems to make women susceptible to Lichen sclerosus. In the case of men it develops on the penis head. In some instances it appears on the upper body, breast, and upper arms.

Symptoms of the Lichen sclerosus:

Small white spots, whose presence is so subtle that it may even escape notice, appear on the body at the early stage. These are the early symptoms; the Lichen sclerosus patch is shiny and smooth. As time passes, these spots grow bigger and become patches; the skin surface gets thinner and thinner, and pulled in, looking crinkled. The skin thus becomes delicate and tears easily; It is also common for the skin to bleed inwardly, in which circumstances, the patches look bright red or purple. Discoloration is an aspect of this stage.

In the instances where it occurs on the anal areas, a total disfiguration of the anal area occurs. It is men who are uncircumcised who commonly get afflicted by this. When Lichen Sclerosus occurs in places of the body other than the genital areas, the only symptom is itching.

Extreme itching results when Lichen Planus occurs on Uvula. The itching could even spoil sleep. Painful sores result. Sexual and cycling activity involving pressure or friction on the area, become impossible. It is advisable to avoid wearing tight clothing, and tampons.

It is important to note here that, there is a similarity in the conditions of the anal areas where Lichen sclerosus is manifest, and in the inflammatory conditions of the aftermaths of sexual abuse, in the case of children. Hence, in children, the lichen sclerosis affliction of the anus may be confused as sexual abuse.

Cause for Lichen sclerosus

The exact causes for the Lichen sclerosus are not definitely known. Sometimes it has been discovered that an overactive immune system triggers antigens that result in Lichen sclerosus. Some may have a genetic tendency towards this disease. Hormone levels which are abnormally high may also cause this. Skins which have already been scarred or damaged are susceptible to this disease. Lichen sclerosus however, is not contagious.

Diagnosing the Lichen sclerosus

The Skin is an indicator. Biopsy tests at early stages are necessary for early detection of this disease. A slice of the afflicted skin has to be tested in the Laboratory for obtaining confirmation of the presence of Lichen sclerosus.'

Click to see larger picture

Typical lichen sclerosus histology demonstrating homogenized edematous papillary (upper) dermis and effaced epidermis

(The picture and caption taken from the web, explanative of the Sclerosus condition.)

Treatment for Lichen sclerosus

In non-genital areas, the treatment is not that important as the disease is mild and may even be cured in course of time, depending on the good health conditions of the patient.

When it hits the genital areas in men, circumcision is the most effective cure.

Ultra potent topical corticosteroid (strong cortisone cream or ointments) are curative. But the treatment for Lichen sclerosus needs prolonged use of the application. The scars it leaves may be irreversible. Some complications occur due to prolonged treatment.

Prolonged use of cartico steroid causes its own effects on the skin. The skin turns red or a thinning of the skin results.

Lichen sclerosus usually is seen to disappear with puberty, whenever it had afflicted young girls very early on. Thus, it may not be required at all to treat the Lichen sclerosus spots in girls. Prolonged use of the steroids seems to create hormonal disturbances that result in masculine traits like low pitched voice or appearance of coarse facial hairs.

The Lichen sclerosus does not cause skin cancer.

When the Lichen sclerosus sets in, Dermatologists and gynecologists must be approached. Urologists and primary health care providers also treat this disease.

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