Lichen Sclerosus - Treatment

What types of treatment, surgery, or medication did you receive for lichen sclerosus?

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How is it treated?

If you have patches on the arms or upper body, they usually don't need treatment. The patches go away over time.

Lichen sclerosus of the genital skin should be treated. Even if it isn't painful or itchy, the patches can scar. This can cause problems with urination or sex. There is also a very small chance that skin cancer may develop in the patches.

Surgery is normally a good option for men. Circumcision (removing the foreskin on the penis) is the most widely used therapy for men with lichen sclerosus. The disease usually does not come back. Surgery is normally not a good option for women. When the lichen sclerosus patches are removed from the genitals of women and girls, they usually come back.

Treatment also includes using very strong cortisone cream or ointment on the skin. You put these creams on the patches every day for several weeks. This stops the itching. Then you use the cream or ointment two times a week for a long time to keep the disease from coming back. Treatment does not fix the scarring that may have already occurred.

You need regular followup by a doctor because using these creams and ointments for a long time can cause:

  • Thinning and redness of the skin
  • Stretch marks where the cream is applied
  • Genital yeast infections.

Sometimes, you don't get better when using the cortisone creams. Some things that can keep symptoms from clearing up are:

  • Low estrogen levels
  • Infection
  • Allergy to the medication.

When creams and ointments don't work, your doctor may suggest:

  • Retinoids, or vitamin A-like drugs
  • Tacrolimus ointment
  • Ultraviolet light treatments (not used on skin of the genitals).

If you need medicine, ask your doctor:

  • How does the medicine work?
  • What are its side effects?
  • Why is it the best treatment for my lichen sclerosus?

If a young girl gets lichen sclerosis, she may not require lifelong treatment. Lichen sclerosus sometimes goes away at puberty. Scarring and changes in skin color may remain.

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