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Lichen Sclerosus

What Is Lichen Sclerosus?

Lichen sclerosus (LIKE-in skler-O-sus) is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder that can affect men, women, or children, but is most common in women. It usually affects the vulva (the outer genitalia or sex organ) and the anal area. While lichen sclerosus appears predominantly in postmenopausal women, this skin condition is also known to develop on the head of the penis in men. Occasionally, lichen sclerosus is seen on other parts of the body, especially the upper body, breasts, and upper arms.

The symptoms are the same in children and adults. Early in the disease, small, subtle white spots appear. These areas are usually slightly shiny and smooth. As time goes on, the spots develop into bigger patches, and the skin surface becomes thinned and crinkled. As a result, the skin tears easily, and bright red or purple discoloration from bleeding inside the skin is common. More severe cases of lichen sclerosus produce scarring that may cause the inner lips of the vulva to shrink and disappear, the clitoris to become covered with scar tissue, and the opening of the vagina to narrow.

Lichen sclerosus of the penis occurs almost exclusively in uncircumcised men (those who have not had the foreskin removed). Affected foreskin can scar, tighten, and shrink over the head of the penis. Skin on other areas of the body affected by lichen sclerosus usually does not develop scarring.

How Common Is It?

Although definitive data are not available, lichen sclerosus is considered a rare disorder that can develop in people of all ages. It usually appears in postmenopausal women and primarily affects the vulva. It is uncommon for women who have vulvar lichen sclerosus to have the disease on other skin surfaces. The disease is much less common in childhood. In boys, it is a major cause of tightening of the foreskin, which requires circumcision. Otherwise, it is very uncommon in men.

What Are the Symptoms?

Symptoms vary depending on the area affected. Patients experience different degrees of discomfort. When lichen sclerosus occurs on parts of the body other than the genital area, most often there are no symptoms, other than itching. If the disease is severe, bleeding, tearing, and blistering caused by rubbing or bumping the skin can cause pain.

Very mild lichen sclerosus of the genital area often causes no symptoms at all. If the disease worsens, itching is the most common symptom. Rarely, lichen sclerosus of the vulva may cause extreme itching that interferes with sleep and daily activities. Rubbing or scratching to relieve the itching can create painful sores and bruising, so that many women must avoid sexual intercourse, tight clothing, tampons, riding bicycles, and other common activities that involve pressure or friction. Urination can be accompanied by burning or pain, and bleeding can occur, especially during intercourse. When lichen sclerosus develops around the anus, the discomfort can lead to constipation that is difficult to relieve. This is particularly common in children. It is important to note that the signs of lichen sclerosus in children may sometimes be confused with those of sexual abuse.

Most men with genital lichen sclerosus have not been circumcised. They sometimes experience difficulty pulling back the foreskin and have decreased sensation at the tip of the penis. Occasionally, erections are painful, and the urethra (the tube through which urine flows) can become narrow or obstructed.

What Causes Lichen Sclerosus?

The cause is unknown, although an overactive immune system may play a role. Some people may have a genetic tendency toward the disease, and studies suggest that abnormal hormone levels may also play a role. Lichen sclerosus has also been shown to appear at sites of previous injury or trauma where the skin has already experienced scarring or damage.

Is It Contagious?

No, lichen sclerosus is not contagious.

How Is It Diagnosed?

Doctors can diagnose an advanced case by looking at the skin. However, early or mild disease often requires a biopsy (removal and examination of a small sample of affected skin). Because other diseases of the genitalia can look like lichen sclerosus, a biopsy is advised whenever the appearance of the skin is not typical of lichen sclerosus.

In homoeopathy we have a very good medicine but you have to place your complain in our following format

1. Age
2. Sex
3. country
4. climate
5. current complain-from how many days-
6. current medicine you are taking
7. sign & Symptom of disease
8. Slight back history
9. family back ground
10. qualification of patient
11. Nature of working
12. desire and aversion of food
13. Mind-behavior, anger, irritability, hurry, impatientÂ…and so.. on and how you are peculiar from other person, public speaking or not , you can describe all the detail about behaviour,love and affection. If any secret thing can not want to discus at forum then you can share your talk directly to email by clicking on doctor. For a good prescription mental detail is must be.
14. Aggravation & Ameliration
Dr. Deoshlok Sharma
  deoshlok on 2005-12-21
This is just a forum. Assume posts are not from medical professionals.
I'm looking for help or remedy for a problem....
1. Age -50
2. Sex -male
3. country -canada
4. climate -cold and damp
5. current complain-from how many days -lichen sclerosus I believe I've had it for at least 4 years
6. current medicine you are taking -none
7. sign & Symptom of disease - i believe penis skin is thin because it is sensitive and get's abrasions easily from partner's pubic hair. foreskin has been tearing on intercourse. I put polysporin on it and it helps heal. the foreskin is a little puffy. urine flow is 30% restricted. ejaculation also restricted and the feeling of the pleasure of release is greatly deminished. semen just dribbles out. penis is less sensitive to pleasure. low libido and decreased sexual "performance". sometimes during intercourse I lose the erection.
8. Slight back history
9. family back ground
10. qualification of patient -college graduate
11. Nature of working -sitting down 7 hours a day in front of a computer.
12. desire and aversion of food -aversion to chocolate, caffeine and M.S.G. (monosodium glutinate) -no great desire for any particular food
13. I am an easy going person. I do get anxious about things like the future and finances and family well being. feel guilty if not spending enough time with children. get nervous and forget my thoughts if public speaking. my heart seems a little closed to romanitc love. I procrastinate. am a dreamer. don't get angry easily but hold on to anger.
Physically, my muscle tone is going away. I'm slim but getting flabbier. stomach is bloated and gassy. vision and hearing getting worse. knees weak. lose breath going up stairs....
14. Aggravation & Amelirat -nothing

thanks for any help.
bosk0691 8 years ago

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