What are complications of lichen sclerosus (LS)?

Updated: Sep 25, 2020
  • Author: Lisa K Pappas-Taffer, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Following are male genital, female genital, and extragenital complications of lichen sclerosus (LS):

  • Male genital: Complications can include painful erections, urinary obstruction, an inability to retract the foreskin, and squamous cell carcinoma (rare).
  • Female genital: Complications include dyspareunia, urinary obstruction, secondary infection from chronic ulceration, secondary infection related to steroid use, and squamous cell carcinoma (rare, but not as rare as male cases). Some estimates are as high as 5% for the lifetime risk of vulvar squamous cell carcinoma in patients with lichen sclerosus. [20] The epidemiology of lichen sclerosus patients who develop squamous cell carcinoma shows that older age, longer duration of lichen sclerosus, and evidence of hyperplastic/early vulvar carcinoma in situ changes to be significant risk factors. A 2009 study linked coexistent chlamydia infection and lichen sclerosus with increased risk of squamous cell carcinoma, but other sexually transmitted illnesses, such as human papillomavirus infection, were not completely addressed. [21]
  • Extragenital: Complications include cosmetic concerns, but only in extensive cases.

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