Lichen sclerosus is an inflammation of the skin of unknown cause which produces a change in the texture of affected areas. It may occur anywhere on the body, but most commonly affects the skin of the vulva and anus.
It is often seen before puberty or at the time of the menopause, but can appear at any age. The main symptom is itch. The affected skin looks white and in long-standing disease there may be shrinkage of the labia (lips) and narrowing of the vaginal entrance.
Young boys and older men can have similar skin changes, although it is much less common in males. It is not infectious and is thought to be an autoimmune condition.
It is helpful to stop using all soaps and bubble baths and to use a soap substitute.
The most successful treatment is a strong steroid ointment for example, Dermovate (clobetasol propionate 0.05%) which is used once a day at first. A 30g tube will last six months and is quite safe. You will need one to two (30g) tubes of Dermovate ointment over a years’ time.
Once your condition is controlled an annual check-up is recommended with your own doctor. Rarely a skin cancer can develop on long-standing chronic inflammation.
The National Lichen Sclerosus Support Group (NLSSG),
PO Box 5830, Lyme Regis, Dorset DT7 3ZU.
Visit the lichen sclerosus website.
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust would like your feedback. If you wish to share your experience about your care and treatment or on behalf of a patient, please contact The Patient Experience Department who will advise you on how best to do this.
This service is based at The James Cook University Hospital but also covers the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, our community hospitals and community health services.