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Lichen Sclerosus in Children: Care Instructions

Your Care Instructions

Lichen sclerosus is a skin problem that causes thin, wrinkled white patches. The patches are itchy and painful. If the skin tears, bright red or purple spots may appear. In most cases, it occurs on the skin of the genitals.

In children, lichen sclerosus is more common in girls. It often appears in a "figure 8" pattern around the vulva and anus. Lichen sclerosus in males is called balanitis xerotica obliterans. It appears around the tip of the penis and on the foreskin. It can make the foreskin tight and hard to move. If the foreskin becomes too tight, it may need to be removed.

Lichen sclerosus is usually treated with prescription cream or ointment, such as a steroid medicine. Treatment is important. That's because without treatment, the skin can thicken and scar. This can make going to the bathroom difficult and painful. If scar tissue forms, it may need to be removed with surgery.

Doctors aren't sure what causes lichen sclerosus. It isn't caused by an infection, and it can't be spread to others. The condition can be long-lasting (chronic). But in some cases it can go away on its own.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • Be safe with medicines. If the doctor prescribed a cream, apply it exactly as directed. Call your doctor if you think your child is having a problem with the medicine.
  • Put cold, wet cloths on the area to reduce itching.
  • Help your child choose loose-fitting clothes. Avoid nylon and other fabric that holds moisture close to the skin.

Care tips for girls

  • Avoid hot baths. Don't use soaps or bath products to wash the area around your child's vulva. Rinse with water only. Then gently pat the area dry.

Care tips for boys

  • Keep your child's penis clean. If he hasn't been circumcised, gently pull the foreskin back (if you can) to wash his penis with warm water. Make sure his penis is dry before he gets dressed.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • The affected area grows or changes.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.