Lichen Sclerosis is a chronic skin condition that mainly affects people with vaginas. It can cause discomfort, pain, and irritation in the genital area. For some, it can even make penetration, clitoral, & vulval pleasure almost impossible. Despite 1:30 vagina owners suffering with it at some point in their life; Lichen Sclerosis is not often talked about which can lead to embarrassment, shame, and isolation.
In this article, we will discuss Lichen Sclerosis, its symptoms, causes, treatment options, and long-term effects. It is important to note that this condition is not contagious, and it is not caused by poor hygiene or sexually transmitted infections.
What is Lichen Sclerosis?
Lichen Sclerosis is an autoimmune condition that affects the skin around the vulva, clitoris, and anus. It is characterized by white, patchy skin that may appear thin, wrinkled, or crinkly. The skin may also be itchy, painful, or bleed when irritated.
Lichen Sclerosis can occur at any age, but it is most common in people who are postmenopausal, have a family history of the condition, or who have an autoimmune disorder like lupus & psoriasis. It is estimated that 1 in 30 people with vaginas will develop Lichen Sclerosis at some point in their lives.
Symptoms & Cause of Lichen Sclerosis
The symptoms of Lichen Sclerosis can vary from person to person, but the most common ones include:
White, patchy skin around the vulva, clitoris, or anus
Itching, burning, or soreness in the genital area
Painful sex or discomfort during sexual activity
Difficulty urinating or frequent urination
Bleeding or tearing of the skin during sex
Fissures or cracks in the skin around the vulva
What Causes Lichen Sclerosis?
The exact cause of Lichen Sclerosis is unknown, but it is believed to be an autoimmune disorder. This means that the body's immune system attacks its own tissues, including the skin around the genital area. Hormonal imbalances, genetic factors, and environmental triggers may also play a role in the development of the condition.
What Makes Lichen Sclerosis Worse or Better?
There are several factors that can make Lichen Sclerosis worse or better. Some of the things that can worsen the condition include:
Irritation or rubbing of the skin around the genital area
Tight clothing or underwear
Scratching or rubbing the affected skin
Stress or anxiety
Yeast infections or bacterial vaginosis
On the other hand, there are several things that can help to manage the symptoms of Lichen Sclerosis. These include:
Wearing loose-fitting clothing made from breathable fabrics
Using mild, fragrance-free soaps and detergents like The Butters.
Avoiding perfumed products, including lotions, powders, and tampons
Using a lubricant during sex to reduce friction
Applying a prescribed topical cream or ointment to the affected area
Can Lichen Sclerosis be Cured?
There is currently no cure for Lichen Sclerosis, but the symptoms can be managed with proper treatment. Mild cases of the condition may not require treatment, but more severe cases may need medication, surgery, or a combination of both.
The most common treatment for Lichen Sclerosis is a topical corticosteroid cream or ointment. This medication helps to reduce inflammation, itching, and other symptoms. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove scar tissue or correct deformities.
How Does Lichen Sclerosis Progress?
Lichen Sclerosis is a chronic condition that can progress slowly over time. It may cause scarring, shrinkage, or deformities of the genital area if left untreated. In rare cases, Lichen Sclerosis may lead to skin cancer in the affected area. It is important to get regular check-ups with a healthcare provider and seek treatment for any symptoms of the condition to prevent complications.
What are the Long-Term Effects of Lichen Sclerosis?
Lichen Sclerosis can have several long-term effects on the body and mental health of people with vaginas. The symptoms of the condition can cause discomfort, pain, and embarrassment, which can impact sexual function, self-esteem, and quality of life. Additionally, the scarring and deformities that may result from the condition can cause complications during childbirth and sexual activity.
It is important for people with Lichen Sclerosis to seek support from healthcare providers, therapists, and support groups. Supportive treatments and self-care practices, such as mindfulness and stress reduction techniques, can help to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.
Lichen Sclerosis is a chronic condition that affects the skin around the vulva, clitoris, and anus. It can cause discomfort, pain, and embarrassment for people with vaginas. The condition is not contagious, and it is not caused by poor hygiene or sexually transmitted infections.
The symptoms of Lichen Sclerosis can be managed with proper treatment, including topical creams, ointments, and surgery in more severe cases. It is important for people with the condition to seek support from healthcare providers, therapists, and support groups to manage the symptoms and improve quality of life.
It is crucial to break the silence around Lichen Sclerosis and create more awareness about the condition. By educating ourselves and others, we can reduce the stigma and isolation that people with Lichen Sclerosis may experience and help them access the care and support they need.
More info on Lichen Sclerosis available here: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/16564-lichen-sclerosus