July 01, 2021

Lichen sclerosus

Easing the itch of this chronic disorder

You were hesitant to discuss the itch "down there," but it just wouldn't stop. An exam by your doctor revealed the presence of thin, pale patches of skin around your genital area — signs of a condition known as lichen sclerosus (LIE-kun skluh-ROW-sus).

Lichen sclerosus is an autoimmune skin condition that's not very common — although it's likely that some people don't tell their doctors about it. It's characterized by patches of white, almost translucent skin, and red or blotchy, wrinkled areas of skin. The condition typically develops in areas of friction, particularly the genital and perineal region. People with severe forms may experience sexual dysfunction or develop scar tissue that increases their risk of skin cancer.

There is no cure for lichen sclerosus. While the majority of women will find relief with topical medications, long-term treatment is the only way to prevent significant complications.

Lichen sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus is characterized by patches of white, almost translucent skin. Bruising or tearing of the skin may also occur. It commonly develops in the vulvar area in women.


A variety of skin symptoms

Common signs and symptoms include changes to the appearance of your skin as well as burning and itching. Others include bruising or tearing of the skin around the vulva or urethra, constipation, and painful sexual intercourse. However, the condition is not contagious and cannot be spread through sexual contact.

In addition to the genital area, the...