Genital skin disorders
What is lichen sclerosus?
Lichen sclerosus (LS) is a skin disorder of unknown origin. This malady affects the skin and mucous membrane of the genitals of both sexes.
Who can be affected by lichen sclerosus?
It can occur at any age. This illness is 6-10 times more common in women than in men. Its adult type usually appears in men between 40-50 years of age, while in women it is common after the menopause. Most of the affected people are Caucasian; this illness is rare in Asians or Black people.
What causes it? Is it connected to other illnesses?
Its cause is unknown. Development of the symptoms have some relation to the immune system, as can be seen from the abundance of white blood cells in the histological sample taken from the skin symptom. It is commonly related to auto immune disease. There are auto antibodies in the blood of 40% of the patients, primarily against the cells of the thyroid.
What are the symptoms?
Its clinical symptoms are typical. Reddish then porcelain white spots develop on the genitals, often with an inflamed ring on the sides. In this stage, the most common symptom is itchiness. Fungal and bacterial infections can easily develop on the affected areas. Lichen Sclerosus itself is not contagious.
How can it be diagnosed?
A dermatologist can identify the disease by the symptoms. It is possible that histological examination is required, which means that a small piece of skin is cut out from the symptom, and analyzed under a microscope. After the diagnosis of the illness, the dermatologist advises further examinations to rule out other maladies and infections that might hinder the healing process. (such as HPV)
What are the prospects?
The illness may disappear at any age without any treatment. With the use of local anti-inflammatory treatment, and by healing other infections, the symptoms can be significantly reduced.
If phimosis develops, circumcision is advised, after which the disease itself usually ceases, too. Regular check-ups with a dermatologist are required, because a cancerous tumor might develop on the affected skin in 5% of cases. To notice this in time, it is important to visit a dermatologist once a year.