Lichen sclerosus is a persistent condition that causes thin, white patches of skin that tend to be itchy, especially at night. Although the problem affects men, women, and children alike, it occurs most often in postmenopausal women. In women, lichen sclerosus usually appears somewhere on the vulva, or the skin around the entrance to your vagina. Left untreated, lichen sclerosus can make sexual intimacy painful or even unbearable. At RENUvaGYN in Seattle, board-certified gynecologist Dr. Rebecca Dunsmoor-Su uses MonaLisa Touch® laser therapy to treat lichen sclerosus and prevent its complications. Call or book your appointment online today.
Lichen sclerosus usually appears as small white patches of skin that may eventually increase in size and join together to form even larger patches. The skin where these patches form is typically thinner than normal, healthy skin, and it tends to be more prone to cracking and bleeding. In some cases, though, lichen sclerosus causes the affected skin to thicken and wrinkle.
Although it’s not known exactly what causes the long-term skin condition, researchers believe that a hormone imbalance or an overactive immune system may play a role.
Even though it can be itchy and uncomfortable, lichen sclerosus isn’t contagious and can’t be spread through sexual contact.
While mild cases of lichen sclerosus may not cause any noticeable symptoms, moderate cases can cause discomfort and pain.
Because it’s usually a long-term condition, lichen sclerosus can also cause scars to form along the skin of your vulva, which can narrow your vaginal opening and make sexual intimacy extremely painful, affecting your ability to have intercourse.
Left untreated, the condition may progress to its most severe form, causing your skin to bruise or tear easily, or leading to the appearance of bleeding, blistering, or ulcerated lesions. Women who develop blisters may experience extremely sensitive skin that can’t take any amount of pressure without causing severe pain.
Although women with lichen sclerosus that affects the vulva are at an increased risk for vulvar cancer, treatment can slightly reduce this risk.
Prescription steroid creams or ointments can help control lichen sclerosus symptoms when applied sparingly but regularly. In many cases, symptoms may be fully under control after a few weeks or months of regular treatment.
You can also take other steps to keep your symptoms under control:
Although MonaLisa Touch laser therapy is primarily designed to help women alleviate vaginal dryness and other common symptoms brought on by hormone-related changes, it has also proven to be an effective treatment for lichen sclerosus.
At RENUvaGYN, Dr. Dunsmoor-Su has successfully treated lichen sclerosus using a combination of steroidal creams and MonaLisa Touch treatments.
A single in-office treatment session takes less than five minutes, and the average woman needs just three treatments scheduled six weeks apart to see significant results.
Many women report noticeable symptom relief after just one treatment, and more significant relief after each successive treatment.