What is Lichen Sclerosus?
Lichen sclerosis is a skin disorder that causes small areas of skin to become thin and discolored so that white patches develop. The skin can crack and become sore, which can cause pain, itching, and discomfort.
These feelings may be distressing. Lichen sclerosis can affect the skin on the arms, back, breasts, and other parts of the body, but it is usually the skin around the genitals and anus that is most often affected. Having lichen sclerosis in these areas can sometimes lead to pain during sex or when going to the bathroom. The condition mostly affects adult women after menopause. But other people can get it, too. Although there’s no cure, there are treatments to manage your symptoms.
Causes of Lichen Sclerosus?
Lichen sclerosis is a rare disease. When it does occur, it mostly affects women who have been through menopause aged between 40 and 60 years.
It is unclear exactly how many women develop the condition. Researchers think that the number could be anywhere between 1 in 300 to 1 in 1,000 women.
Men are six times less likely to develop the condition than women.
Children are the least likely to be affected by lichen sclerosus. When it occurs in children, it is usually in girls who have not yet reached puberty.
The exact causes of lichen sclerosus are not known, but doctors think there are different reasons why some people develop the disease.
Possible causes and risk factors include the following:
- Hormone imbalances
- Immune system problems, such as an overactive thyroid gland
- A family history of the disease
- Previous damage to the skin because of other skin conditions
- Lichen sclerosis is not contagious and cannot be spread from one person to another, even through intimate contact, such as sexual intercourse.
Symptoms of Lichen Sclerosus
People with mild lichen sclerosus may have no signs or symptoms.
Signs and symptoms usually affect the skin of the genital and anal areas, but may also affect the skin of the upper body, upper arms, and breasts. They may include:
- Itching (pruritus), which can be severe
- Discomfort or pain
- Smooth white patches on your skin
- Blotchy, wrinkled patches
- Tearing or bleeding
- In severe cases, bleeding, blistering or ulcerated sores
- Painful sex
Treatment of Lichen Sclerosus
There is no cure for Lichen Sclerosus, however, some traditional treatments are there to manage your symptoms, but these traditional treatments have also not shown many long term benefits. However, stem cell treatment is showing promising results. Stem cell treatment joined the list of therapies fairly recently and is promising to be most effective among all the modalities. This new alternative can be performed on all patients without causing harm to the body or genitalia and may be fast becoming the treatment of choice for most patients with significant, symptomatic disease. Stem cells have both anti-inflammatory and immune-modulatory effects that help promote healing of the affected tissues. They induce and promote healing and modify immunity, allowing many patients to achieve unheard of recovery.