Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus (LS) causes patchy and itchy skin. It often affects the area around the genitals.

What Is Lichen Sclerosus (LS)?

Lichen sclerosus is a condition that can make the skin discolored, thin, irritated, itchy and patchy. It usually affects the area outside the vagina (vulva) or anus, and rarely any other body parts. Your doctor or health care provider can diagnose LS with a vulva exam. In some cases, they may need to do a small skin biopsy to rule out other skin conditions. LS is a chronic condition (does not go away) – but with treatment the symptoms improve. Sometimes LS symptoms come and go – this is called an LS flare.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Lichen Sclerosus?

Lichen sclerosus can appear in different ways.

  • Constipation or pain when peeing (urinating) or pooping
  • Skin symptoms include:
    • Itching
    • Irritation
    • Pain
    • Bleeding
    • Thin skin
    • Color change (lighter than normal)
    • Bruises
    • Cracks or cuts (fissures)
    • Erosions
    • Change from the vulva down to the space between the vagina and anus (perineum) and around the anus

Lichen sclerosus symptoms may come and go. These are called LS flares.

What Causes Lichen Sclerosus?

The cause of LS is unknown. LS may be an autoimmune condition. Irritants to the skin may cause a flare of symptoms.

How Is Lichen Sclerosus Treated?

The length of treatment is different for all patients. You’ll need follow up visits/exams to make sure treatment is working. There are 2 treatment goals: improve symptoms and prevent life-long skin damage or scarring.

  • Your doctor or health care provider will likely order a steroid ointment to apply to skin when it changes.
  • Soaks in a tub of warm water (sitz bath) to keep the vulva clean and to help with pain.
  • Avoid anything that irritates your skin.