Lichen Sclerosis

Lichen sclerosus

Rollover to view image Lichen sclerosus on an 82 year old woman, showing an ivory white coloring in the vulva, also stretching downward to the perineum.
Image by Mikael Häggström (CC BY 3.0)

Lichen sclerosis et atrophicus (to give its full name) causes scarring of the tissue on the genitals and affects women more than men. The cause is unknown, but infection or injury to the genitals may be a factor.

In men a thickened area of skin develops on one side of the penis, which causes a sideways curve to the penis that may be painful during an erection, and sexual intercourse may be difficult. In women, a shiny white itchy area with a red margin appears on the vulva. It may also occur in skin on other parts of the body. Biopsy of affected skin is sometimes necessary to make a diagnosis.

Minor surgery can be performed to stretch the scarred penis tissue, and steroid creams are prescribed for the itch.

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