Living well with lichen sclerosus

Self-help for chronic genital inflammation

Redness, burning, skin changes and itching in the genital and anal region: This is often neither the suspected neurodermatitis nor the feared infection: In many cases, lichen sclerosus is hidden behind the event, a non-infectious chronic skin inflammation of unknown cause, which mostly affects women and increases with age.

With regular self-monitoring and care, the persistent symptoms can be effectively alleviated. New relapses can also be quickly contained or even prevented in this way.

What can be done about lichen sclerosus?

Many affected people have great inhibitions about going to a doctor about their complaints: About half do not see a doctor until five years after the onset of the first symptoms. But the sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner treatment can take place. In this way, the symptoms can be successfully alleviated - or in many cases even disappear completely.

The diagnosis is usually made in a gynaecologist's office, in other cases also by a dermatologist or urologist. GPs also offer a first point of contact and then refer accordingly to specialist care.

Why is introspection so important?

With lichen sclerosus, the symptoms often occur in episodes. In order for those affected to gain an overview of their disease and its course - and to be able to take care measures or consult a doctor as early as possible - regular self-observation of the skin's condition is essential.

How does self-examination work?

Affected persons should examine all anal and genital areas, including those hidden under skin folds, in bright light at least weekly. A hand mirror is required for this. Experts and self-help groups also advise taking regular photographs of affected areas.

In this way, the course of the disease can be documented and the occurrence of a new episode can be quickly recognised and treated.

Which therapy is effective in acute cases?

In the acute treatment phase, the so-called acute relapse therapy in the case of noticeable complaints and visible skin changes, the medical guidelines provide for an ointment treatment with cortisone (more precisely: glucocorticoids, which also include cortisone).

After consultation with the doctor, this is usually done over twelve weeks with a slow phasing out, i.e. a reduction in the dose. The application is then supplemented by highly effective intimate care and - depending on the individual course - finally replaced by the intimate care preparation if possible.

What does optimal self-treatment look like?

The acute therapy is followed by the so-called maintenance treatment. The skin is regularly cared for with moisturising creams. This is because dry areas are particularly prone to inflammation. In the best case, this prevents a new episode with redness, itching and burning.

How do nurturing thymus peptides work?

A cream with thymus peptides, for example, has a skin-caring and regenerating effect on the upper layers of the skin - without the side effects of a cortisone preparation.

Care of the skin in the intimate area with thymus extract led to symptom improvement and even freedom from symptoms in 71 % of cases of lichen sclerosus in the context of a clinical application observation. Regular care also reduces itching and supports the regeneration and normalisation of the sensitive, inflamed skin.

Which hygiene measures help?

Apart from care with ointments and moisturising creams, regular, careful and soap-free genital hygiene helps to prevent new episodes. Underwear should not chafe, should always be airy and dry, and should only be made of natural materials such as silk or cotton.

What are the prospects?

The symptoms often disappear within a few weeks of treatment. In other cases, more patience is needed until an improvement occurs. Regular application of creams and ointments is crucial for lasting success, both in acute therapy and in self-administered maintenance care.