Lichen Sclerosus
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What Is Lichen Sclerosus?

A skin condition which results in the inflammation and long term itching in the skin, usually in the genital and the anal areas, is called as Lichen Sclerosus. It is an uncommon disease resulting in white patches on the skin, causing scarring on and around the genital areas. Lichen Sclerosus is also called by the name of LSA or BXO, when it is reported in men, while it is called LS, when reported in women.

Lichen sclerosus is usually seen in women, around or after their menopause, though girls may contract it too. In males, the disease asserts itself by thickening of the skin in a whitish layer in the foreskin and cannot be removed easily. In one research, it was seen that most men with penile LS were uncircumcised. This, kind of condition, since long, has been termed as Balanitis Xerotica Obliterans (BXO).

Symptoms of Lichen Sclerosus

Many people do not have any symptoms at all in cases of lichen sclerosus. However, those who do, the most common features seen are – inflammation, agonizing itching for a long time. In women, this disease usually affects the vulva and the areas around it. The skin becomes white in such cases and thickens. This results in scarring and consequently shrinking of the vulva and tightening of vagina.

Such a condition makes the sexual intercourse extremely difficult and painful. The similar condition is experienced around the anus, when the bowel opening becomes constricted and might result in little tears, which might become painfully sore. Such areas are often seen to project blisters and sores while also being prone to further infections and thrush. In men, it is the tip of penis which is affected. It too forms a firm, white layer and the urethral opening narrows, making the passing of urine very painful.

Lichen sclerosus may be formed on other body parts also. In non-genital body parts, porcelain-white spots may be seen. These spots will have visible plugs inside the orifices of the hair follicles and sweat glands. This condition may also lead to the thinning of the skin.

What Causes Lichen Sclerosus

Despite the disease being dates as far back to 1887, the exact causes for lichen sclerosus are not known. However, there are many prevailing theories suggesting the causes. Some researchers say that lichen sclerosus has a direct relation with the auto-immune conditions, like thyroid disease. Few other factors such as infections and genetic pre-disposal have also been proposed to, but nothing is known for certain.

At this point, however, I should make it clear that lichen sclerosus is non-infectious in nature, cannot be transmitted by any sexual activity and is not caused by poor hygiene.

Who's Affected By Lichen Sclerosus?

Almost one in every three hundred people is affected by lichen sclerosus. Majority of them are women and out of this women over fifty are in a higher percentage. Men are not as common to be detected with this disease, while in children, it is very occasionally seen.

Diagnosis of Lichen Sclerosus

Many people are unaware of the disease for a long time. While many other go on suffering with the intermittent itching and the pain related to the condition. Many times, lichen sclerosus can be mis-diagnosed as eczema, condyloma or thrush.

In case, one notices any of the prominent symptoms mentioned above in this article, make it a point to consult a doctor and get examined. The doctor can easily diagnose the disease by performing a biopsy under local anesthesia.

Treatment for Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus can be a long-lasting disease; however, there have been instances where spontaneous cure ensues on its own account, usually in case of young girls.

The treatment administered to the patients suffering from this disease consists of the application of potent steroids, which prevents scarring while also relieving the patients off itching. Moisturizing creams, anesthetic creams and gels are also used to soothe the skin. Antibiotics and anti-fungal treatments are also required in cases of infection or a thrush. Other options that can be used are cryotherapy and laser therapy. At times, this disease might lead to the development of cancer patches. Thus, regular consultation of the physician is very important.

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#1 - Charles Runels - 07/08/2014 - 03:53
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