Treatments and drugsBy Mayo Clinic staff
If your genital area isn't affected, you may not need treatment for lichen sclerosis, especially if you're not having symptoms. Lichen sclerosis often gets better on its own.
If you have lichen sclerosus on or around your genitals or anus, or have a more advanced case on other parts of your body, your doctor will recommend treatment. Treatments help reduce itching, improve your skin's appearance and decrease further scarring.
Corticosteroid ointments or creams are commonly prescribed for lichen sclerosus. Initially, you'll generally have to use cortisone creams or ointments on the affected skin daily. After several weeks, your doctor will likely recommend that you only use these medications twice a week to prevent a recurrence. Your doctor will monitor you for side effects associated with prolonged use of topical corticosteroids, such as thinning of the skin.
Other treatment options
If corticosteroid treatment doesn't work or if months of corticosteroid therapy are needed, other treatments your doctor may prescribe include:
- Immune-modulating medications, such as tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel)
- Ultraviolet light treatment, for nongenital areas
Topical sex hormones are sometimes prescribed to treat lichen sclerosus, but recent research suggests that these medications aren't as effective for this condition as the treatments above.
For men with lichen sclerosus on the foreskin, removal of the foreskin (circumcision) is a common treatment in cases resistant to other therapies or more advanced cases. Surgery in the genital or anal area generally isn't recommended for women with lichen sclerosus because the condition may just come back after surgery.
- Goldsmith LA, et al, eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aID=56040547. Accessed Aug. 28, 2012.
- What is lichen sclerosus? National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Lichen_Sclerosus/default.asp. Accessed Aug. 28, 2012.
- Murphy R. Lichen sclerosus. Dermatology Clinics. 2010;28:707.
- Chi CC, et al. Topical interventions for genital lichen sclerosus. Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD008240.pub2/abstract. Accessed Aug. 28, 2012.
- Wehbe-Alamah H, et al. Silent no more! The lived experiences of women with lichen sclerosis. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. 2012;24:499.