Symptoms of Lichen Sclerosus
Of all the symptoms of lichen sclerosus, itching is the most common, regardless of the part of the body affected. Other symptoms vary, depending on how severe the disease is and where it is located. For example, symptoms of lichen sclerosus on the vulva include scarring and narrowing of the vagina; symptoms of the condition on the penis include tightening of the foreskin and painful erections.
The symptoms of lichen sclerosus can vary, depending on the location and severity of the disease. Furthermore, symptoms are the same in children and adults.
Early in the disease, small, subtle white spots appear. These areas are usually slightly shiny-looking and smooth. As the disease progresses, the spots develop into bigger patches and the skin surface becomes thinned and crinkled. As a result, the skin tears easily, and bright red or purple discoloration from bleeding inside the skin is common. In severe cases of lichen sclerosus, just rubbing or bumping the skin can cause pain.
When lichen sclerosus occurs on other parts of the body instead of the genital area, there usually are no symptoms other than itching.
Very mild cases of lichen sclerosus on the genital area often cause no symptoms. However, if the disease becomes worse, itching is the most common symptom. In rare cases, lichen sclerosus of the vulva may cause extreme itching that interferes with sleep and daily activities. Rubbing or scratching to relieve the itching can create painful sores and bruising, so many women must avoid sexual intercourse, tight clothing, tampons, riding bicycles, and other common activities that involve pressure or friction. Urination can be accompanied by burning or pain, and bleeding can occur, especially during intercourse.
More severe symptoms of lichen sclerosus can produce scarring that may cause:
- The inner lips of the vulva to shrink and disappear
- The clitoris to become covered with scar tissue
- The opening of the vagina to narrow.