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Lichen sclerosus et atrophicus, lichen scleroatrophic

What is it?

Lichen scleroatrophic is a disease of unknown cause that primarily affects women. It is more common in adults but can also affect children. It is not a contagious disease and there is no need to avoid physical contact with others.

The lesions are located most frequently in genital and anal regions, but also occur in other body areas, such as the neck, shoulders, back and chest.

Characteristics and symptoms

The characteristic lesions are lighter than the skin, of atrophic aspect (the skin is thinner than usual) and showing little hardened points in the pores. There may be scaling in some cases.

The size usually ranges from very small to several inches. In general, the lesions are asymptomatic, but can be itchy, especially in cases of lesions in female genitalia.

In the genital areas, the lesions usually present whitish color and, in some cases, simulate vitiligo. In man, the most frequent location is the glans (penis) and, in women, the vulva. In both cases, the disease can acquire a sclerotic characteristic, with decreased skin elasticity, which becomes hardened, giving rise to the conditions known as Balanitis xerotica obliterans in man and Vulvar kraurosis in women.

When the disease affects female genitalia in childhood, with features similar to vitiligo, there may be spontaneous regression over the years.

The diagnosis is usually based on clinical features, but a biopsy may be needed for confirmation.


The treatment of skin lesions is done with topical corticosteroids on the form of creams or ointments. Genital lesions may be treated with testosterone or progesterone ointments, according to each case. The duration of treatment is usually long and perseverance in using the medications is needed to achieve the best results.

Related articles

- Vitiligo
- Lichen planus

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