Lichen sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus (LIE-kun skluh-ROW-sus) is an uncommon condition that creates patchy, white skin that's thinner than normal. Lichen sclerosus may affect skin on any part of your body, but most often involves skin of the vulva, foreskin of the penis or skin around the anus.

Anyone can get lichen sclerosus, but postmenopausal women are at highest risk. Left untreated, lichen sclerosus may lead to other complications.

You may not need treatment because sometimes lichen sclerosus improves on its own. If you do need treatment, your doctor can suggest options to return a more normal appearance to your skin and decrease the tendency for scarring.

Symptoms Causes Complications

Lichen sclerosus can affect the skin on any part of your body. Sometimes, no symptoms are present.

When they do occur, lichen sclerosus symptoms may include:

  • Itching (pruritus), which can be severe
  • Discomfort, which is generally greater if lichen sclerosus appears on or around your genital or anal areas
  • Smooth white spots on your skin that may grow into blotchy, wrinkled patches
  • Easy bruising or tearing
  • In severe cases, bleeding, blistering or ulcerated lesions
  • Painful intercourse

When to see a doctor

See your doctor if you have signs and symptoms common to lichen sclerosus. Effective treatments are available to help manage your discomfort and prevent complications.

If you've already been diagnosed with lichen sclerosus, see your doctor every six to 12 months to be checked for any skin changes or treatment side effects.

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