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Dermatol Ther. 2004;17(1):28-37.

Lichen sclerosus: a review and practical approach.

Author information

  • Department of Dermatology, Center hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. rouleaufunaro@videotron.ca


Lichen sclerosus (LS) is a chronic dermatitis predominantly found in the anogenital area. It can be found in patients of any age group, sex, or race, but is most commonly present in Caucasian peri- or postmenopausal women. Although the etiology of LS remains uncertain, an autoimmune process is believed to underlie this condition. With many cases going unreported, its incidence is still unknown. There is no cure for LS, but treatment offers control of the condition. They are three reasons for treating LS: relief of symptoms and discomfort; prevention of any or further anatomical changes; and a theoretical prevention of malignant transformation. Although many treatments have been suggested to treat LS over the years, only potent or ultra-potent corticosteroids remain as the treatment of choice. After initial therapy, some patients might only use corticosteroids as needed, while others may require a twice-weekly maintenance therapy. There is no place for surgery in uncomplicated LS. Surgery should be limited exclusively to patients with malignancy and to correct scarring secondary to the disease. Lichen sclerosus is associated with a 4-6% risk of squamous cell carcinoma, making long-term follow-up essential in these patients.

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