If your genital area isn't affected, you may not need treatment for lichen sclerosus, especially if you're not having symptoms. Lichen sclerosus may get better on its own.
If you have lichen sclerosus on or around your genitals or anus, or have a more advanced case on other parts of your body, your doctor will recommend treatment. Treatments help reduce itching, improve your skin's appearance and decrease further scarring.
Corticosteroid ointments or creams are commonly prescribed for lichen sclerosus. Initially, you'll generally have to use cortisone creams or ointments on the affected skin daily. After several weeks, your doctor will likely recommend that you only use these medications twice a week to prevent a recurrence.
Your doctor will monitor you for side effects associated with prolonged use of topical corticosteroids, such as further thinning of the skin.
Other treatment options
If corticosteroid treatment doesn't work or if months of corticosteroid therapy are needed, other treatments your doctor may prescribe include:
- Immune-modulating medications, such as tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel)
- Ultraviolet light treatment, for nongenital areas
Topical sex hormones have been used in the past to treat lichen sclerosus, but recent research suggests that these medications aren't effective.
Removal of the foreskin (circumcision) in men is a common treatment in cases resistant to other therapies or more advanced cases. Surgery in the genital or anal area generally isn't recommended for women with lichen sclerosus because the condition may just come back after surgery.
Be sure to ask your doctor how often he or she recommends follow-up visits to look for changes in the skin. Follow-up exams are generally recommended every six to 12 months.
Sept. 03, 2015
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- What is lichen sclerosus? National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/Lichen_Sclerosus/default.asp. Accessed Aug. 12, 2015.
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- Chi CC, et al. Topical interventions for genital lichen sclerosus. Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD008240.pub2/abstract. Accessed Aug. 7, 2015.
- Funaro D, et al. A double-blind, randomized prospective study evaluating topical clobetasol propionate 0.05% versus topical tacrolimus 0.1% in patients with vulvar lichen sclerosus. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2014;71:84.