Lichen sclerosus is a long-term condition that affects the skin creating patchy thinner skin. It is most common in the genital and anal areas however it may also appear on the breasts, upper body and upper arms. While anyone can develop the condition, postmenopausal women are at the highest risk. Usually it doesn’t require any treatment as it improves on its own after some time. However if left untreated for too long, the condition may lead to complications.
The condition can affect the skin at any part of the body and may not even have any sign or symptoms. Usually during the initial phase small shiny and smooth white spots appear on the skin. Other common symptoms of lichen sclerosus may include Itching, wrinkled patches, easy bruising, and bleeding or blistering in severe cases.
Doctors don’t know the exact cause of the lichen sclerosus disease yet. Some doctors believe that the condition is caused by lack of sex hormones or an overactive immune system. Skin damages have also been associated to an increased risk for lichen sclerosus at the location.
Despite being more common around genitals the disease is not contagious and doesn’t spread through intercourse. It is rarest in children but most common in postmenopausal women. In women, the disease mostly affects the vulva. Among men, uncircumcised males are most at risk as the disease usually affects the foreskin.
Doctors can simply look at the symptoms of severe lichen sclerosus and diagnose the disease. To confirm the observation, doctors usually take a small piece of the skin patch to observe it under microscope.
While the disease may improve on its own, lichen sclerosus of genital skin should be treated even if there are no significant symptoms. Otherwise it may cause discomfort during urination or sex. Circumcision is a common treatment for men with lichen sclerosus. However surgery is not recommended for women. Treatment may also include using some ointments on the skin for several weeks to stop the itching. However even after treatment the disease may leave scars on the affected skin.
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