Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.
Your Location is set to Change My Location
Cone Health wants to help you get well and stay well. This section provides tools and information to achieve good health and maintain your well-being.
Learn what community resources are available to help you get well and stay well.
View health and wellness news you can use from Cone Health providers on
View Advanced Search OptionsView All Doctors
View All Locations
Home > Patient & Family Resources > Health Library > Lichen sclerosus
Committed to Safety: As we resume services, we are taking all necessary precautions to keep you safe while we care for you. Limited visitation is now in place. Review all our visitor policies and precautions. Get more information on COVID-19.
Lichen sclerosus is a skin problem that causes thin, wrinkled white patches that are itchy and painful. If the skin tears, bright red or purple spots may appear.
Doctors don't know the exact cause of this problem. But genetics, autoimmune diseases, and changes in hormone levels may be part of the reason. It is not caused by an infection and is not contagious.
Anyone can get lichen sclerosus, but women who have gone through menopause are more likely to get it.
This skin problem can affect any part of the body. But in most cases, it occurs on the skin of the anus (the opening where stool leaves the body), the vulva (the area around the vagina), and the tip of the penis in men who haven't been circumcised.
If these skin patches are on the anus, vulva, or penis, they may need to be treated. If these areas are not treated, the skin can thicken and scar. This can cause the openings to the vagina and anus to become narrow and the foreskin over the penis to tighten and shrink. If this happens, going to the bathroom and having sex can be painful. In most cases, skin patches on any other part of the body go away on their own without treatment.
Lichen sclerosus can be treated with strong, medicated creams or with a prescription medicine. In most cases, surgery to remove the foreskin is the recommended treatment for men who have this condition on the tip of the penis.
Current as of: October 31, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Anne C. Poinier MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine & Ellen K. Roh MD - Dermatology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Subscribe to our Wellness Matters e-newsletter, a monthly snapshot of the some of great wellness content from Cone Health providers.