Vulvar Lichen Sclerosus

Vulvar lichen sclelorus is an inflammatory skin disorder that affects the vulvar or anal area. Symptoms include itchiness, pain and inflammation. Regular vulvar moisturization and care, in combination with topical treatments, can greatly improve symptoms.

What is the vulva

The vulva is the external female sexual organ. Everyone’s looks a bit different, but they all contain the same parts:

  • Vagina opening. The opening through which females menstruate and give birth; it also plays a central role in sexual function.
  • Labia (lips). These are the folds of skin around your vaginal opening. It is made of the labia majora (outer lips) and labia minora (inner lips).
  • Located at the top of the vulva, the clitoris is a female’s source of sexual pleasure.
  • Perineum. The area between the anus and vulva in females.
  • Anus. The opening to our rectums, the anus also has many sensitive nerve endings that can give rise to sexual pleasure. 

The vulva is a highly sensitive area that requires proper care and attention to avoid infection and discomfort. It is also prone to certain auto-immune conditions, including vulvar lichen sclerosus. 

What is vulvar lichen sclerosus?

Vulvar lichen sclelorus is an inflammatory skin disorder that affects the vulvar or anal area in vulva owners or those assigned female at birth. It is also quite prevalent in post-menopausal individuals. Itchiness is usually the first symptom. Pain, irritation and inflammation are also common. It may become severe enough to disrupt sleep, interfere with quality of life, and cause painful intercourse. To diagnose it, a doctor will look for patches of white shiny skin on the vulva – the hallmark visual symptom of vulvar lichen sclerosus. 

How do you treat vulvar lichen sclerosus?

Topical corticosteroids are the standard treatment for vulvar lichen sclerosus. Ointments are recommended over creams since they are better absorbed. A pea-sized amount is applied to the vulva and/or perianal area. Your doctor will advise you on how often to apply it, and for how long. 

The importance of vulvar care and moisturization

An important part of managing vulvar lichen sclelorus is proper vulvar care, which includes good hygiene, practicing safe sex, avoidance of triggers, and moisturizing. Regular vulvar moisturization helps prevent dry vulvar skin, improve elasticity, and reduce irritation – which can improve the skin symptoms associated with vulvar lichen sclelorus. Moisturization and vulvar care should be used in combination with your prescribed corticosteroid treatment plan.

Moisturizers are very effective in reducing pain and friction, but also help heal damaged tissue and maintain vulvar moisture and acidity. If applied regularly, the effects can be longer-lasting. You can get a moisturizer without a prescription, but it’s important to read the label and ingredient list. We recommend all-natural moisturizers, such as FemmeSense Balm, which is free of irritants.

What does vulvar care entail?

Vulvar care includes a combination of hygiene practices and lifestyle choices that help maintain vulvar health. This includes: 

  • Avoiding irritants. Common irritants include soaps, bubble baths, and douches.
  • Washing regularly. Shower or bathe daily, using a pH balanced chemical- and fragrance-free cleanser or water alone, and pat dry with a soft towel. Avoid talcum powder as it can cause irritation.
  • Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Most vulvar skin disorders stem (or are worsened) from skin dryness, so keep the area moist. Talk to your doctor or a pelvic health physiotherapist for product recommendations. One effective, all-natural option is FemmeSense Balm.
  • Wearing loose clothing. Avoid tight clothing, pantyhose, and G-strings with can be abrasive to the genital area.
  • Checking yourself. Look at your vulva daily to see how your symptoms are, and if there is anything new. It may help to use a hand mirror. Tell your doctor about any new or worsening symptoms right away.                     

You will need to be under the care of a physician as vulvar skin conditions require regular monitoring and assessment of how treatment is working. 

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