Children's Hospital Colorado

Lichen Sclerosus

What is lichen sclerosus?

Lichen scleroses is a skin condition that causes the thinning of the outside layer of the skin in the vulvar area. It may also affect the skin in the area surrounding the rectum.

What causes lichen sclerosus?

The cause of lichen scleroses in is unknown.

Who gets lichen sclerosus?

This condition is most commonly seen in girls before the onset of puberty or in older women during menopause.

Lichen sclerosus:

  • Is not contagious
  • Does not spread from one person to another
  • Is not a sexually transmitted disease
  • Is not caused by poor hygiene

Download information on lichen sclerosus en Español (pdf).

What are the signs of lichen sclerosus?

The symptoms of lichen sclerosus are varied but may include:

  • Itching and pain in the vulvar and/or anal area.
  • Skin cracks (fissures).
  • Occasionally, vaginal bleeding.
  • The affected skin may turn white in color or may be red from irritation.
  • In less severe cases, there may be white skin changes but very minimal symptoms.

How is lichen sclerosus diagnosed? 

Although there is no single test used to diagnose lichen sclerosus, doctors at Children's Hospital Colorado may diagnose the condition after obtaining a detailed history and performing a physical exam.

An internal or pelvic exam is not necessary for this diagnosis.

How is lichen sclerosus treated?

Lichen sclerosus can be treated with good skin care and prescription cream.

  • Follow the guidelines listed on the pediatric vulvovaginitis treatments page. These are routine self-care guidelines.
  • Start using the cream prescribed to you by the doctor. Put a pea-size amount of cream onto the irritated vulvar skin areas. If possible, put the cream on just after taking a plain water bath.
  • After using the cream twice each day for 14 days, switch to using the cream only 1 time each day.
  • Come back to our clinic in 2-3 weeks for a checkup.

Contact our Adolescent Gynecology Department anytime if you have questions or the health issue gets worse.

Why choose Children's Colorado for your child's lichen sclerosus?

At Children's Colorado, we provide expert care for the diagnosis, treatment and management of health issues of the female reproductive organs in children and teens.

Our board-certified pediatric and adolescent gynecologists have specialized training in the reproductive health concerns of girls of all ages. And depending on your daughter's needs and treatment plan, we provide both outpatient and inpatient surgical services.

Compassionate care for sensitive issues

Doctors at Children's Colorado understand that health concerns involving the reproductive organs can be stressful, which is why we're sensitive to the mental and emotional needs of our patients and their families. By creating a friendly environment for dialogue, we encourage patients to ask questions and talk openly with their care team.