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What is Lichen sclerosis?

Lichen sclerosis is a chronic skin condition that causes white, itchy patches and/or pain on the skin. It is more common before puberty and after menopause but can occur at any age. Oftentimes genital symptoms associated with menopause-vulvar (the area around the opening to the vagina) dryness, itching and painful intercourse are actually caused by lichen sclerosis. It is important to treat lichen sclerosis as it can cause scarring to the affected tissue and in up to 5% of women vulvar cancer1. The underlying cause of lichen sclerosis is unknown.

How is Lichen sclerosis diagnosed?

Lichen sclerosis is diagnosed by taking a small sample of skin called a biopsy from the area with symptoms. The tissue is then sent to a lab where a specialized doctor (a pathologist) looks at it under the microscope. A tissue biopsy is a simple office procedure.

What are the symptoms of Lichen sclerosis?

Itching of the vulva and/or around the anus, discomfort or dull pain of the vulva, pain during sex or urination, skin changes to the genital area (white, wrinkled skin or cracked skin).

How is Lichen sclerosis treated?

A potent topical steroid cream is the most common treatment for lichen sclerosis. Most women respond well but will need to steroid use indefinitely to prevent the return of symptoms. Once stable, annual gynecologic exams are recommended to ensure no progression of disease.

Some women continue to have symptoms despite their use of a steroid cream. Recent studies have shown that a simple office treatment with a carbon dioxzide laser can improve symptoms. Dr. Hanna is now offering this simple 5-minute office treatment to women who are suffering from lichen sclerosis.

1. Neil SM, Lewis SM, Tatnall FM, Cox NH: British Association of Dermatologists. British Association of Dermatologists’ guidelines for the management of lichen sclerosus 2010. Br J Dermatol. 2010;163(4):672-682

The content is meant for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Please seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Barbra S. Hanna, DO, FACOG, NCMP
1604 North Main Street  •  Wheaton, Illinois 60187  •  630-260-1818