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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.
Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:
Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:
Current as of: August 2, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Elizabeth T. Russo MD - Internal Medicine & Ellen K. Roh MD - Dermatology & Donald Sproule MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
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