Lichen Sclerosus Treatment in Charlotte, NC
Lichen sclerosus is a somewhat rare skin condition that causes chronic inflammation of the skin on or around the external genitalia. This disorder can appear in other areas of the body, though it most commonly affects tissues of the genitals and anus and can lead to sexual dysfunction if left untreated. Dr. Tapscott is a board-certified urologist with fellowship training at the Cleveland Clinic. Dr. Tapscott has extensive experience diagnosing and treating patients for lichen sclerosus.
What Are the Causes and Risks of Lichen Sclerosus?
Any person can be diagnosed with lichen sclerosus, however, the disorder is particularly common among women who are approaching puberty, or those who have reached postmenopause. Men are also at risk for lichen sclerosus, especially those who are uncircumcised.
There is no exact cause of this condition, and it is impossible to predict if a certain person will or will not experience problems with lichen sclerosus at some point in their life. Research suggests that this skin disorder is related to a variety of factors, including the person’s genetics, hormone levels, and possible dysfunctions of their immune system.
What Are the Symptoms of Lichen Sclerosus?
This skin disorder is characterized by white patches of skin that look much thinner compared to any healthy surrounding tissue. Because lichen sclerosus usually develops in the genital area, these skin discolorations may go weeks if not months without being detected.
Patients do not often report significant symptoms along with the noticeable skin changes, though it is possible for individuals to experience any of the following side effects caused by a case of lichen sclerosus:
- Blotchy spots
- Wrinkled patches of skin
- Pain during intercourse
- Urinary retention
- Ulcerated sores
Unless the case is particularly severe, it is not likely for a person to encounter sores, blistering, or bleeding with their lichen sclerosus. However, it is certainly possible for symptoms to worsen over time if the area is not properly treated. In addition to experiencing more painful symptoms, patients with lichen sclerosus are also at an increased risk of developing skin cancer. While lichen sclerosus patches are not likely to develop into cancerous tissue, they become much more dangerous if the area is already scarred in some way.
How is Lichen Sclerosus Treatment?
Corticosteroid creams and ointments are commonly prescribed to individuals with lichen sclerosus. It is important to apply these treatments to the affected areas regularly to control any discomfort and reduce the chances of scarring. Unfortunately, recurrence is common among those with this skin disorder, so patients should check themselves regularly for any new patches on their bodies. Visiting Dr. Ashley Tapscott for routine appointments is also key in identifying new areas of concern and discussing any alternatives to corticosteroids.
Other medications can be prescribed if corticosteroids do not provide effective results. Surgery may also be recommended for men who still have their foreskin, as removing it can typically relieve and reduce symptoms of lichen sclerosis. Women with this skin disorder are rarely advised to undergo surgery since the patches have the potential to appear again afterward.