Lichen sclerosus is a skin problem that causes thin, wrinkled white patches that are itchy and painful. If the skin tears, bright
red or purple spots may appear.
Doctors don't know the exact cause
of this problem. But genetics,
autoimmune diseases, and changes in
hormone levels may be part of the reason. It is not
caused by an infection and is not contagious.
can get lichen sclerosus, but women who have gone through
menopause are more likely to get it.
This skin problem can affect any part of the body. But in most cases,
it occurs on the skin of the
anus (the opening where stool leaves the body), the
vulva (the area around the
vagina), and the tip of the penis in men who haven't been circumcised.
If these skin patches are on
the anus, vulva, or penis, they may need to be treated. If these areas are not
treated, the skin can thicken and scar. This can cause the openings to the
vagina and anus to become narrow and the foreskin over the penis to tighten and
shrink. If this happens, going to the bathroom and having sex can be painful.
In most cases, skin patches on any other part of the body go away on their own
Lichen sclerosus can be treated with strong,
medicated creams or with a prescription medicine. In most cases, surgery to remove the foreskin is the recommended
treatment for men who have this condition on the tip of the penis.
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Carla J. Herman, MD, MPH - Geriatric Medicine
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