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Lichen Sclerosus

Shamsah Amersi, MD

OB-GYN & Breast Cancer Assessment located in Santa Monica, CA

Discolored or blotchy patches of itchy genital skin could be a sign of lichen sclerosus, a condition that’s most common after menopause. At her private practice in Santa Monica, California, renowned board-certified OB/GYN Shamsah Amersi, MD, provides expert care for lichen sclerosus to help you get comfortable and take your life back. Call the office or click on the provided online booking tool to easily arrange your visit now.

Lichen Sclerosus Q&A

What is lichen sclerosus?

Lichen sclerosus is a skin disorder that causes skin thinning, discoloration, and patchiness. Although it can occur nearly anywhere on the body, lichen sclerosus is most common in the genital and anal areas. 

The condition affects up to 10 times as many women as men. Most women who experience lichen sclerosus do so after menopause, but it can also happen earlier, even before puberty. 

Research into the cause of lichen sclerosus continues. Many experts believe it likely stems from a combination of factors, including genetics, past skin damage, and immune system malfunction. It’s not a sexually transmitted disease (STD). 

What are the symptoms of lichen sclerosus?

Lichen sclerosus symptoms usually affect the vulva (outer genitals) and may include:

  • Discolored white or blotchy skin (may be smooth or wrinkled)
  • White or purple bumps
  • Itching
  • Burning sensation
  • Easily injured skin (breaking open, bleeding, or blistering)
  • Pain during sex 

Some women have fairly mild symptoms, and others experience such intense discomfort that it prevents them from enjoying their lives. 

It’s important to get treatment because the disorder often worsens if ignored. Eventually, untreated lichen sclerosus could lead to scarring of the genitals, making symptoms much worse and potentially introducing new problems like difficulty urinating.

In addition, some studies show that lichen sclerosus carries a slightly increased risk of some types of cancer, particularly vulvar cancer. The earlier you seek help, the better.

How is lichen sclerosus treated? 

The first-line treatment for lichen sclerosus is usually a topical corticosteroid cream like clobetasol. This cream can minimize itching and inflammation to make you more comfortable. Dr. Amersi recommends a specific schedule to apply the cream, usually starting with twice daily. As it takes effect, she helps taper your use to about twice a week. 

Because topical corticosteroids may have some side effects, Dr. Amersi closely monitors you during each visit and makes changes to your treatment plan as needed. 

If initial treatment isn’t successful, Dr. Amersi may prescribe oral or topical retinoids (which come from vitamin A), light therapy, or immunosuppressants that calm your overactive immune system. 

No matter what treatment approach you use, a long-term mindset is important. Your condition can return if you stop treatment, so it’s a lifelong commitment. Dr. Amersi makes this process easy and supports you throughout. 

Do you have lichen sclerosus symptoms? Don’t ignore them anymore. Call Shamsah Amersi, MD, or book your appointment online now.

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