Signs And Symptoms
There are a few signs of lichen sclerosus, some of which are quite unique to this condition and others that mimic different conditions. The main symptoms of lichen sclerosus are:
- Constant or chronic itchiness in the vulvar or anal area, which might disappear and reappear later,
- Pale, thick or crinkled skin, and
- Pain due to the skin splitting from scratching.
When skin is affected by lichen sclerosus, it can also scar and join up with nearby skin during healing. This can change the way your vulva looks, and can sometimes affect your ability to have and even enjoy sex.
Unfortunately, doctors aren’t exactly sure what causes lichen sclerosus at the moment, but they are looking into it. Some researchers think that the condition might be a kind of auto-immune disorder, where the body attacks its own skin instead of protecting it. Lichen sclerosus is in fact more common with women who also have thyroid issues or ulcerative colitis, both auto-immune conditions.
Diagnosing The Condition
Doctors can usually diagnose lichen sclerosus just by having a look at your vulva, or other areas affected by the condition. In some cases, they might remove a sample of the skin where lichen sclerosus can be found for testing, a procedure known as a biopsy.
However, there have been a number of cases where lichen sclerosus is misdiagnosed as a much milder condition: thrush. The reason for this is that both present with itchiness. If you’ve been diagnosed with thrush, but your symptoms persist, it might be time to see a gynaecologist or dermatologist.