Lichen Sclerosus is a rare skin condition. It is characterized by patches of white skin which is thinner than usual. It can occur in any part of the body. However, it most commonly occurs in the skin of the vagina's vulva, in the foreskin of the penis, and on the skin around the anus. Anybody is susceptible to it. However, this disorder is most common among postmenopausal women. When this occurs in the arms or upper body, the disorder usually goes away without treatment. If needed, you may have some cosmetic treatment to normalize the appearance of your skin. If the patches appear on the genitals, you'll need medical treatment. Scientists have yet to determine what causes the disease. They do know that it is not contagious. This means that it doesn't spread through physical contact, not even sexual intercourse. They have only offered theories on what are the factors to its development. One theory states that there has been some prior damage to that area of the skin. Others say it is due to some hormone imbalance or even perhaps an overactive immune system.
White spots appearing on the skin is an early indication of the disease. Such spots are smooth and shiny, and they eventually will grow into larger patches. Much later, the skin becomes thinner, crinkled and can easily tear. As a result, bright red or purple bruises will commonly appear. At times, expect some skin scarring. This is for more severe cases. If the disease is mild, there may not be any symptoms at all. Patches that occur on the arms and upper body usually may not need any treatment. The patches will eventually just disappear.
In its initial stage, you'll notice white spots appearing on your skin. These will later develop into white patches where the skin becomes thin and crinkled. Itching usually follows, the severity of which can range from mild to severe. In severe cases, the skin can crack and develop sores. This can cause further itching, discomfort, and pain. The thinning of the skin in the affected areas will make that part prone to easy bruising an tearing. Much worse, it could lead to bleeding, blistering and ulcerated lesions.
The disease can occur in any part of the body. But it does have a propensity for the skin around the genitals and the anus. These parts are the most affected and in many cases may need medical treatment. Having sex or using the bathroom can sometimes be an excruciating experience. Women who have the disease may experience pain when engaging in sexual intercourse. This is due to the tightening of the vagina. Doctors may prescribe vaginal dilators or numbing cream to ease the pain.
Since doctors are not sure where and how the disease comes about. So there is no permanent cure that they can prescribe. The best they can offer is relief from pain and discomfort brought about by the disease. There is good news about this disease. If it occurs in any part of the body aside from your genital or anal areas, just wait for it to disappear or go away. No treatment is actually needed.
Why worry too much when treatment of such condition is just a matter of waiting off the disease. Meantime, make yourself comfortable by applying a moisturizer to the areas with lichen sclerosus. Avoid scented bath products as well as detergents which can cause skin irritations. Practice your self-control by not scratching or rubbing affected areas. Finally, use loose fitting clothes and underwear with natural fibers. All these will relieve some pain and discomfort and will minimize its effects on your body. Here are some suggestions that may further offer relief. Instead of soap, use a moisturizing cream when cleaning your genital and anal areas. For women's genital skin, avoid using bubble baths, scented soaps, detergents, and perfumes.
Applying a strong topical steroid is the most common treatment for Lichen Sclerosus. Steroids are well known for reducing inflammation. But you will need your doctor's consent when using steroids. Use the prescribed steroid cream or ointment regularly as instructed by your doctor. In usual cases after two weeks, the irritations caused by the patches will gradually ease off. But the skin itself will take may take the whole three months to recover fully. The earlier you treat the disease, the faster the skin will heal and go back to normal. In more severe cases, your skin may have already changed so much. The application of a topical steroid treatment might not reverse the changes. After the regular initial treatment, continue applying the ointment or cream. Do this for about one or two weeks to keep the symptoms away.
You can also use very strong cortisone creams or ointments. Cortisones are anti-inflammatory and anti-allergy agents. Apply the cream every day for a number of weeks. The strength of this ointment will surely stop the itching. Continuously use the cream for a week to make sure the disease won't return. The treatment, by the way, will not fix scarring on the skin that may have occurred earlier.
If ointments still cannot solve your problems, your doctor may prescribe a different treatment. Immune-modulating medications would be effective. The doctor can also administer exposure to ultra-violet rays for non-genital areas. In the past, patients use topical sex hormones to treat the disease. However, recent studies have shown that such medications do nothing against the disease.
It would not be much of a problem if the disease occurs on any part of your body other than the genital and anal areas. But if they occur in the prohibited zones, the doctor will recommend treatments. Such treatment can help ease itchiness, improve skin's appearance, and decrease further scarring. The most popular treatments are corticosteroid ointments or creams applied daily. After some length of time, you may just have to use the medication about twice a week to prevent its recurrence. There will be some monitoring work by your doctor, making sure that no side effects happen. Prolonged use of the cream can result to further thinning of the skin.
The best option for males to avoid Lichen Sclerosus is through surgery. The operation is a common undertaking for many males. Circumcision or removing the foreskin of the penis is the most widely used treatment. Surprisingly, most men are not even aware of this. When circumcised, the disease will not return. In rare cases, doctors may perform other surgeries on men. These improve the scarring and narrowing of the urethra which is caused by the disease. For females, surgery is not recommended. This is because the disease's patches usually come back even after removal. The disease recurs in the genitals even after surgery. One adverse effect in women is the narrowing of their vaginal entrance. However, there is an operation that can widen the opening of the vagina. This will give relief to women, especially when engaging in sex.
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