| Caroline Knight
For women who have been diagnosed with Lichen sclerosus, functioning in every day life can be both frustrating and painful. Dealing with constant inflammation, itching and pain in the genital region also has the knock-on effect of causing worry and anxiety. On top of this, lichen sclerosus sufferers are prone to thickening and scarring of the skin, leading to further complications.
We have previously written in detail about the characteristics, symptoms and causes of lichen sclerosus, so rather than repeat ourselves, this article will simply highlight some of the lichen sclerosus treatment options that have helped other women. There may not currently be a cure for this challenging condition, but rest assured there are ways to manage and prevent flare-ups.
Unfortunately, it rarely gets better without some form of treatment, and recurrences are common. In some instances it is necessary to see a Doctor - especially if you have an advanced case. Doctors can recommend treatments, and there are also things you can do yourself. Read on for top tips on treating lichen sclerosus:
Lichen sclerosis treatment via prescribed medication or surgery
If you need to get treatment, don’t wait around. Some women are shy about it because of the nature of the condition, but Doctors are familiar with it. Treatment should help to reduce inflammation and itching, as well as improving appearance of the skin and preventing future scarring.
Topical medications prescribed by a Doctor
Corticosteroid ointments and creams (containing cortisone) are one of the most common lichen sclerosus topical treatments. They are usually applied twice per day for a few weeks, after which time your Doctor is likely to ask you to reduce frequency of application, as this prevents flare-ups.
If corticosteroid creams are working as intended, you may be given a tacrolimus (Protopic) ointment instead. Another possibility is Dermovate, a strong steroid ointment or cream. Some women have reported itching after using this cream; if that happens, ask your Doctor for the ointment before trying a different treatment.
Note that some women report irritation caused by prescribed by other medications too, so it’s important to ask your Doctor to change it if this happens. What’s more, after extended periods of use, cortisone creams can lead to thinning of the skin, so your Doctor will want to monitor you to ensure this isn’t happening. However, thinning of the skin is not particularly likely since lichen sclerosus usually thickens the skin in the first place.
Surgery for lichen sclerosus
Generally, surgery is avoided unless totally necessary. Not only is it painful; it’s not guaranteed to prevent further recurrences of the condition either. Despite this, in some instances women with severe scarring and tightening of the vagina are given surgery to divide adhesions or reopen the vaginal entrance. For the latter issue, before thinking about surgery it may be useful to try out vaginal dilators as a method of retaining vaginal capacity. We’ll cover that in more detail below.
Lichen sclerosis treatment: Natural and DIY
Showering, bathing and hygiene
When showering or bathing it is a good idea to use organic and chemical free products that are less likely to irritate your lichen sclerosus or cause flare-ups. For example, some women find that gentle products such as Weleda calendula shampoo and body wash are mild enough not to cause problems.
After showering or bathing, applying a barrier cream of some kind can be helpful. These are also good to use before and after urinating, to prevent the urine from irritating the skin. Lots of women use petroleum jelly or aqueous creams without issue, but if you find (as some do) that such creams irritate you, try soaking in Emulsiderm for a few minutes after washing – even daily if you need to. This is an antimicrobial cutaneous emulsion/water additive, and you can add it to a sitz bath or portable potty for convenience, rather than filling a bathtub each time.
You may also find that using a vaginal moisturizer regularly can help. Stick with hormone-free ones like Replens, which your Doctor may be able to prescribe if needed; it also comes in handy pre-filled wands.
Intimacy can also be a bit of a problem, of course; you may benefit from lichen sclerosus treatment in the form of non-irritating, water-based lubricants to ease friction and stay moisturized during sex.
You may also benefit from using vaginal dilators if you are finding that sex is painful. Vuvatech Vaginal Dilators can help you to become accustomed with the feeling of penetration, thus reducing pain during intercourse. Dilators can stretch out the tissue relaxing and relax the muscles; they also prevent the birth canal from closing or tightening because of scarring.
Dressing for comfort
It’s also helpful to wearing loose, unrestrictive clothing if you have lichen sclerosus. Tight clothing made from synthetic materials like nylon and polyester are likely to cause flare-ups and exacerbate irritation. We recommend wearing underwear made from all-natural materials like 100% cotton, bamboo or silk, as these are far less likely to make your symptoms worse. They’ll also allow the area to breathe.
We hope you have found our lichen sclerosus treatment tips helpful. We are here to help however we can, so do get in touch if you have any questions and check out the other articles in our women’s health blog. Thanks for reading!