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Lichen sclerosus

A skin condition which affects the genitals and other parts of the body.

Lichen sclerosus is most commonly diagnosed in women over the age of 50 years.


Lichen sclerosus causes itchy, white and wrinkled patches on the skin.

In women, they are most often found on the vulva but can also affect the anus.


If you have itchy, white and wrinkled  patches on your genital area you should see your GP.

Your GP will take a history and do an examination.

They may also refer you to a gynaecologist who may also take a sample of the skin from the affected area (biopsy).


There is no cure for lichen sclerosus but the symptoms can be improved with treatment such as emollient soaps, ointments and steroid creams.

Oestrogen creams or pessaries can also be used in postmenopausal women who are experiencing vaginal dryness.

In cases of severe lichen sclerosus, an operation may be needed to widen the vagina.


Lichen sclerosus can cause complications such as:

  • Scarring and tightness of the genitals over time

  • Discomfort during sexual intercourse 

  • Pain when passing urine

  • Increased risk of infections

  • Increased risk of cancer e.g. vulval cancer

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