Diagnosing Lichen Sclerosus
When diagnosing lichen sclerosus, a doctor will usually begin with a physical exam and consider a patient's symptoms and medical history. In some cases, a lichen sclerosus diagnosis can be made just by looking at the skin. To be sure, however, a doctor will often do a biopsy to positively diagnose lichen sclerosus, especially if the appearance of the skin is not typical for the condition.
In order to diagnose lichen sclerosus, the doctor will likely ask a number of questions about a person's medical history, including questions about:
- Current medical conditions
- Current medications
- History of trauma
- Family history of medical conditions.
The doctor will also perform a physical exam, looking for possible signs and symptoms of lichen sclerosus. She or he may also recommend certain tests and procedures.
Doctors can often diagnose lichen sclerosus in advanced cases just by looking at the skin. However, early or mild cases of the disease are usually only diagnosed after a biopsy (a procedure where the doctor removes and examines a small sample of affected skin). Because other diseases of the genitals can look like lichen sclerosus, a biopsy is usually recommended whenever the appearance of the skin is not typical of the condition.
A number of other medical conditions can have similar signs and symptoms to lichen sclerosus. Before the doctor makes a definitive lichen sclerosus diagnosis, he or she will consider these other conditions and rule them out. Some conditions that share similar symptoms include:
- Hidradenitis suppurativa
- Cicatricial pemphigoid
- Lichen simplex chronicus.