How Common Is It?
Although definitive data are not available, Lichen Sclerosus is considered a rare disorder that can develop in people of all ages. It primarily affects the vulva. It is more common in women than in men. Fewer than 1 in 20 women who have vulvar lichen sclerosus have the disease on other skin surfaces. The disease is much less common in childhood, often appearing in puberty.
Is It Contagious?
No, Lichen Sclerosus is not contagious.
Is LS Related to Cancer?
Lichen Sclerosus does not cause skin cancer. However, skin that is scarred by LS is more likely to develop skin cancer. About 1 in 20 women (3-5%) with untreated vulvar lichen sclerosus develops skin cancer. The frequency of skin cancer in men with Lichen Sclerosus is not known. It is important for people who have the disease to receive proper treatment and to see their doctor every 6 to 12 months, so that he or she can monitor and treat any changes that might signal skin cancer.
Does It Interfere with Sex?
Women with severe Lichen Sclerosus may not be able to have sexual intercourse because of pain or scarring that narrows the entrance to the vagina. However, proper treatment with an ultrapotent topical corticosteroid should restore normal sexual ability, unless severe scarring has already narrowed the vaginal opening. In this case, surgery may be needed to correct the problem, but only after the disease has been controlled. Before surgery is considered though, the use of vaginal dilators can help open the vaginal canal.
What Kind of Doctor Treats LS?
Lichen Sclerosus is treated by dermatologists (skin doctors) and by gynecologists if the female genitalia are involved. Urologists and primary care health providers with a special interest in genital diseases also treat this disease. To find a doctor who treats Lichen Sclerosus, ask your family doctor for a referral, call a local or State department of health, look in the local telephone directory, or contact a local medical center. The American Academy of Dermatology also provides referrals to dermatologists in your area, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists can refer you to a gynecologist. The Directory of Medical Specialists, available at most public libraries, lists dermatologists, gynecologists, and urologists in your area.
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