How are lichen sclerosus and lichen simplex chronicus treated?
These conditions can’t always be cured, but they can be managed. If you have lichen sclerosus on the genital skin or anus, you will need treatment to prevent scarring, problems with sex and painful urination, and to reduce the risk of skin cancer and vulvar cancer.
Your doctor will probably prescribe a strong cortisone cream or ointment. Cortisone creams and ointments help relieve pain and itching, but they cannot repair scarring that has already happened. Consistent cortisone treatment is usually effective.
While using cortisone creams or ointments, continue to follow up regularly with your doctor. Long-term use of cortisone creams or ointments may cause thinning or redness of the skin, stretch marks where the cream is applied, and genital yeast infections.
Infections or allergic reactions to the medicine can prevent cortisone creams and ointments from working. In these cases, your doctor may prescribe:
- Retinoids (vitamin A-like supplements), such as isotretinoin or retinol
- Tacrolimus ointment
- Ultraviolet light treatments (for skin not near the genital area)
A sitz bath (where you sit in a few inches of warm water) can help relieve discomfort from itching and scratching. Over-the-counter antihistamine skin creams may also help with the pain.
Tips to Relieve Discomfort
- Wear loose-fitting underwear during the day and none at night.
- Don’t wear pantyhose, tights and other tight-fitting clothing.
- Avoid feminine perfume sprays, which may cause irritation.
- Use a mild skin cleanser. Look for products designed for sensitive skin.
- Don’t stay in swimsuits or wet clothing for long periods.
- Avoid scented fabric softeners and dryer sheets.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff