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Diagnosing and Treating Vulvar Lichen Planus

By EmpowHER January 20, 2012 - 12:07pm

Vulvar Lichen Planus

A recent document published by the Mayo Clinic, states that lichen planus is an inflammatory condition that typically affects your skin and other mucus membranes including the nails, mucus membranes of the mouth, esophagus, conjunctiva, bladder, stomach, anus, and vagina.

Lichen planus is not contagious and cannot be transferred from one person to the next. It may appear as lacy white patches or sores that can be painful. For some unknown reason, the disorder is likely to occur when the immune system attacks the cells of the skin or mucous membranes.

According to a recent Medscape article, lichen planus may also be found with other diseases of altered immunity; these conditions include ulcerative colitis, alopecia areata, vitiligo, dermatomyositis, morphea, lichen sclerosus, and myasthenia gravis. In a recent meta-analysis, 16 percent of patients with lichen planus also had hepatitis-C infection.

The signs and symptoms of lichen planus vary depending on what part of the body is affected. The onset or aggravation of lichen planus has been linked to stressful events. Symptoms may be present for months or even several years. On the skin, it may appear as itchy bumps that have a purple coloration, appearing in the ceases in the skin or in areas where a scratch or injury has occurred. The most significant kind of lichen planus is the erosive type which has bright red ulcerations on the surface.

According to the syllabus from the International Society for the Study of VulvoVaginal Disease (ISSVD) on diagnosis and management, the vulvar bumps may have a fine lacy white border (Wickham Striae). These purple bumps may be anywhere but often occur on the inner forearm and near the wrists or ankles. Other areas include the lower back, neck and legs.

Other symptoms include itchiness, and in rare occasions crust-like lesions. The vulva may be very painful with open sores on the vulva or on the lining of the vagina. The labia may flatten, shrink or even appear resorbed. Because scarring can happen, it is important to get treatment.

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