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What Is Lichen Sclerosus?

What Is Lichen Sclerosus?

           Lichen sclerosus is a very rare skin condition that is also known as “white spot disease.” While it normally affects the genital area, lichen sclerosus can affect any part of a person’s body. The condition causes patches of the skin to become white and significantly thinner than the surrounding tissue. Lichen sclerosus is not contagious and is most typically found in postmenopausal women. Unfortunately, the condition can cause a significant amount of embarrassment for the affected person and it can negatively impact their sex life and ability to go to the bathroom normally. In addition, the condition can lead to an increased risk of cancer.

           Lichen sclerosus may go unnoticed for a period of time because it typically occurs in the genital area. However, other symptoms come with the condition aside from white patches on the skin. These symptoms include redness, severe itching, tearing, or bleeding due to the skin being thin, ulcerated sores, and painful intercourse. It is important to see your doctor if any of these symptoms are present. In addition, if you have already been diagnosed with lichen sclerosus, it is important to see a doctor every 6-12 months to check for abnormal skin changes that may be associated with cancer.

           The exact cause of lichen sclerosus is unknown which can make treatment difficult. It is thought to be associated with an overactive immune system or a hormone imbalance. Treatment is aimed at easing symptoms rather than addressing the underlying cause of the problem. This can include reducing itching, improving the skin’s appearance, and reducing the chance of scarring. This is typically done through the use of steroids or other medications. Patients can also take steps at home to reduce symptoms including using Aquaphor on the area, avoid harsh or scented soaps on the area, using a cool compress on the area, or taking oral anti-histamines.

           Living with lichen sclerosus can be difficult. The condition can greatly affect a patient’s quality of life. Treatments can also leave patients feeling hopeless because there is no cure, only management of the symptoms. Fortunately, stem cell therapy has been shown to be effective in helping patients suffering from lichen sclerosus. Stem cells can be injected into the patient which allows the stem cells to begin repairing the damaged tissue. This allows physicians to address the underlying problem as opposed to simply treating the symptoms.

           Stem cell therapy offers a significant amount of hope for patients suffering from lichen sclerosus. While the condition is annoying to live with, it can also cause patients a great amount of pain and put them at higher risk for developing cancer later on in life. Stem cells offer the opportunity to repair the damaged tissue, regenerating thicker skin in the area so patients are less prone to ulcers and tears, and hopefully reducing the likelihood of the patient developing cancer due to the white spots. Finally, lichen sclerosus patients have hope that one day, they will not have to live with this horrible skin condition. 


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