What is Lichen Sclerosus? Symptoms and Treatment

Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen Sclerosus (LS) is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that predominantly affects the genital and anal areas. It can cause discomfort, itching, pain, and changes in the appearance of the skin, impacting the quality of life of those affected. LS can affect anyone at any age however is most common in middle-aged and elderly women.


What causes Lichen Sclerosus?

Unfortunately, we don’t know the cause of LS but it is important to note that it is NOT sexually transmitted or contagious. Research suggests there may be an auto-immune link but there is currently no conclusive evidence.


What are the symptoms of Lichen Sclerosus?

  • Itchiness in the vulva and anal area which can come in waves or “flares”
  • Skin that looks pale/white in nature or is thicker and crinkled
  • Narrowing of the vaginal entrance
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Scarring and deformation of the labia and clitoral hod.

What is the best treatment for Lichen Sclerosus?

Managing Lichen Sclerosus involves a multidisciplinary approach, focusing on alleviating symptoms and preventing complications. Consulting with a healthcare professional, such as a dermatologist, gynaecologist and pelvic floor physio experienced in LS management, is crucial. Treatment options may include:

  • Topical Treatments: Prescription corticosteroid creams or ointments are often the first line of defence. These medications can help reduce inflammation and alleviate symptoms.
  • Vaginal Moisturisers: Moisturisers can provide relief from dryness and itching associated with LS.
  • Regular Follow-ups: Routine check-ups with healthcare providers are essential to monitor the condition's progression and adjust treatments accordingly.
  • Lifestyle Modifications: Wearing loose-fitting clothing, using gentle cleansers, and avoiding potential irritants can help manage symptoms.
  • Pelvic Floor Physio: this can be helpful to deal with the flow on effect of LS. This may include things like pain with intercourse and bladder and bowel issues.

Does pelvic floor therapy help Lichen Sclerosus?

Pelvic floor therapy can be beneficial for individuals with LS, although it does not directly treat the skin condition itself. However, pelvic floor physiotherapy can aid in managing associated symptoms, such as pelvic pain, discomfort during intercourse, and urinary issues, by focusing on:

  • Muscle Relaxation Techniques: Teaching relaxation exercises can help alleviate pelvic floor tension, reducing discomfort.
  • Biofeedback: Utilizing biofeedback techniques can assist in improving pelvic floor muscle control and reducing pain perception.
  • Education and Support: Providing guidance on lifestyle modifications and self-care strategies can empower individuals to manage LS symptoms effectively.

 How can dilators help Lichen Sclerosus?

Dilators are tools used in pelvic floor therapy to gently stretch and relax the pelvic floor muscles. For individuals with LS experiencing pain during intercourse or pelvic floor muscle tension, dilators can be a valuable aid:

  •  Pain Management: Gradual and gentle use of dilators under the guidance of a pelvic floor physiotherapist can help reduce pain associated with LS during penetration.
  • Muscle Relaxation: Dilators can assist in desensitising the pelvic area, promoting muscle relaxation, and gradually increasing comfort during penetration. 

Remember, it's essential to seek guidance from a qualified healthcare professional, such as a pelvic floor physiotherapist or gynaecologist experienced in LS management, before starting any treatment, including the use of dilators.