Lichen sclerosus is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that most commonly affects the vulva, groin, and perianal region of postmenopausal women. The estimated prevalence ranges from 1 in 30 elderly women to 1 in 1, patients referred to a dermatologist. Because these patients may initially present at the onset of symptoms to a wide variety of practices such as primary care, dermatology, gynecology, urology, pediatrics, or even the emergency department, it is important for practitioners to understand how to properly diagnose and treat those with this disease.
Vulvar lichen sclerosus VLS is a chronic inflammatory dermatosis characterized by ivory-white plaques or patches with glistening surface commonly affecting the vulva and anus. Common symptoms are irritation, soreness, dyspareunia, dysuria, and urinary or fecal incontinence. Anogenital lichen sclerosus LS is characterized by porcelain-white atrophic plaques, which may become confluent extending around the vulval and perianal skin in a figure of eight configuration.
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Study record managers: refer to the Data Element Definitions if submitting registration or results information. Lichen sclerosus LS is a skin condition of the external genitals vulva of women. LS causes vulvar itching, pain, and burning.
Lichen sclerosus LS is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease of unknown cause, commonly appearing as whitish patches on the genitals, which can affect any body part of any person but has a strong preference for the genitals penis, vulva and is also known as balanitis xerotica obliterans BXO when it affects the penis. Lichen sclerosus is not contagious. There is a well-documented increase of skin cancer risk in LS, potentially improvable with treatment.
Other areas of the body are also occasionally affected, including the upper arms, back, breasts and shoulders. LS is most common in women who have been through the menopause, although men and children are also sometimes affected. It's not clear what causes LS, but it's thought to be related to overactivity of the immune system.
If you're struggling to find what you need, call our Support line on 7 days a week, 8am-8pm. Vulval lichen sclerosus LS and lichen planus LP are conditions that affect the skin of the vulva. For a small number of women, LS or LP can develop into a type of skin cancer called squamous cell cancer.