Lichen sclerosus is a rare, chronic skin condition that produces painful, itchy white patches on your skin, typically in the genital region. In some cases, symptoms first appear in other parts of the body.
While its causes aren't entirely clear, lichen sclerosus may be triggered by wounds or radiation therapy to the affected area, or by a hormone imbalance. It’s thought to be genetic, is not contagious, and may be an autoimmune disease.
The condition usually affects postmenopausal women, but can affect all men, women, and children. While rare, the disease is common enough that anyone with its symptoms should consult a doctor.
Lichen sclerosus is characterized by some or all of these symptoms, usually in your genital or anal area:
In women, lichen sclerosus often affects the vulva; in men, it’s present on the tip of the penis, especially with uncircumcised foreskin. However, it can appear in other areas of the body too.
Not all patients feel the itch or pain, so any discoloration of skin or change in texture should be checked out by Dr. Ohanian.
Symptoms for less severe cases, especially those not in the genital area or present in children, may disappear on their own without treatment.
For more severe cases, Dr. Ohanian usually starts with a biopsy of the affected tissue to confirm the diagnosis. She may also prescribe corticosteroid ointments as the first course of treatment. If these don’t calm irritation after a few months of daily use, surgical removal of the affected tissue may be necessary.
At the first sign of discolored and irritated skin, schedule an appointment online with Dr. Ohanian or call the offices of Bergen Aesthetics to discuss your treatment options.