Vaginal Health: What is Lichen Sclerosis of the Vulva?
Could you give me any information about lichen sclerosis et atrophicus? What causes it? What are the symptoms? How is it different from a yeast infection? How is it treated?
Lichen sclerosis et atrophicus is an benign abnormality of the skin of the vulva characterized by marked thinning of the skin. It occurs in all age groups, but is most common just before puberty and in menopause. With lichen sclerosis, the vulvar skin often appears white and thin; it is often itchy. Scratching may lead to secondary infections if the skin is broken. As many vulvar conditions have the same symptoms and look similar to the naked eye, doctors often take a biopsy (sample of the skin) to make an accurate diagnosis. The treatment for lichen sclerosis is either topical testosterone or corticosteroids. High-potency prescription steroid creams are used twice a day for two to three weeks, then once a day, usually at night, for an additional two weeks or until symptoms resolve. Often, the steroid creams will be continued indefinitely once or twice a week. The regimen for testosterone is very similar. Sometimes, simply applying lanolin or vegetable oil provides relief. It is also important to practice good hygiene, keep the vulva dry, and avoid the use of soaps, lotions and detergents. Over-the-counter antibiotic creams and anti-itch creams should not be used, as they just cause more irritation.
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