life expectancy with lichen sclerosus

Life Expectancy with Lichen Sclerosus: Symptoms, Treatments and More

Written and Reviewed by Dr. Uzma Qureshi
Published on: 08/06/2024
life expectancy with lichen sclerosus

Have you recently received a diagnosis of lichen sclerosus? As it is a rare disease, there must be a lot of questions popping into your mind about this condition, like, ‘What is the life expectancy with lichen sclerosus?’ ‘How am I going to manage it?’ It can be overwhelming.

Relax! All these questions are valid, and you need to know everything about lichen sclerosus so that you can manage it effectively. In this blog, you will learn about its symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis and treatment options. Moreover, explore the life expectancy with Lichen sclerosus. Let’s learn together. 

About Lichen Sclerosus

Lichen sclerosus is a long-term inflammatory condition that affects your skin, especially around the vulva (outer skin of the vagina), penis, foreskin, urethra, and anus. This condition rarely affects other parts of your body. It is an autoimmune disease, which means it occurs when your body starts working against its healthy cells. The affected skin becomes itchy, thin, white, and wrinkled. Occasionally, blisters or sores may appear due to prolonged itching.

Other names for it are white spot disease and balanitis xerotica obliterans (BXO).

What are the Causes of Lichen Sclerosus?

It is a rare disease, and the exact cause is not known. However, the National Library of Medicine has stated that it affects approximately 1 in 300 individuals in the general population. Both sexes are affected, but it is more common in females. 

LS most commonly affects the skin around the genitals, accounting for 85–98% of cases. Only about 15–20% of cases affect skin in other areas of the body. The life expectancy with lichen sclerosus is unrelated.

Is lichen Sclerosus Contagious?

No, it is not contagious. Lichen sclerosus does not spread from person to person via any physical or sexual contact. 

What are the Lichen Sclerosus Symptoms?

Before finding out the life expectancy of lichen sclerosus, it is important to understand its symptoms so that you can manage them effectively. 

The symptoms of lichen sclerosus are as follows:

  • Commonly occurs on genital areas and less commonly on other body parts.
  • Starting as redness on the skin and then turning into whiter and thinner skin. 
  • Affected skin turns into a white, hard and thick patch.
  • The itching is worse at night. 
  • Inflammation
  • Burning sensation
  • Ulcers
  • Dysuria: pain while peeing.
  • Dyspareunia: pain during sex
  • Weak pee stream
  • The penis’s foreskin tightens
  • Fluid coming out of the penis (not penile discharge).

If any of the symptoms mentioned above are severe and are affecting your daily activities, it is important to talk to your doctor for timely and better management of lichen sclerosus. 

Risk factors of developing lichen sclerosus?

Understanding its risk factors is crucial for figuring out who might get it. Here are a few risk factors for lichen sclerosus:

  • Postmenopausal females, especially those between 40 and 60 years of age.
  • Individuals assigned female at birth (AFAB).
  • AFAB individuals who have not reached puberty. 
  • Individuals assigned as male at birth, particularly those who still possess penile foreskin.
  • Autoimmune disease or allergies.
  • Being overweight or obese.
  • Diabetes.

How is Lichen Sclerosus Diagnosed?

Typically, clinical exams and findings are used to diagnose this rare skin disease. These clinical evaluations include:

Lichen Sclerosus Diagnosed
  • A complete medical history.
  • Family history
  • Examination for any autoimmune disease.
  • A thorough skin examination.
  • Gynaecological examination for women. 
  • Thyroid function examination

A biopsy (taking a small sample of skin and studying it in the lab) is also done when:

  • The symptoms are unusual.
  • There is a possibility of cancer.
  • The first-line treatment is not working. 

What is the life expectancy with lichen sclerosus?

Life expectancy with lichen sclerosus is unrelated, as it is not a life-threatening condition. It is a condition that primarily affects your skin around the genital and anal areas. If not diagnosed or treated timely, it can cause complications that may lead to a reduced quality of life. However, proper diagnosis and effective management of symptoms make you live your life unbothered.

What are the treatment goals for LS?

The objectives of treating LS are:

  • Relieve bothersome symptoms like skin itching, burning and pain while peeing. 
  • Stop thinning skin, i.e., atrophy. 
  • Prevent scar formation and skin distortion. 
  • Reduce any risks for cancer formation. 

What treatment options are available for lichen sclerosus?

  • According to the National Library of Medicine, the gold standard treatment is to apply high-dose corticosteroid creams (Clobetasol propionate) for three months to reduce skin itching and inflammation.
  • Calcineurin inhibitors or the medication imiquimod are part of the second-line treatment.

There are various treatments for lichen sclerosus available that aim to ease your symptoms and prevent further damage to the skin. 

What are the long-term complications of lichen sclerosus?

Though it is not a life-threatening condition and life expectancy with lichen sclerosus is not related, there are some long-term complications that may affect your quality of life. 

These are some of the complications associated with LS:

  • In women, the scarring may lead to a narrowing of the vaginal opening (introital stenosis) and a fusion of the inner lips (labia minora).
  • In men, scarred skin can constrict the foreskin of the penis (phimosis) and affect urination. 
  • Lichen sclerosus may lead to malignant tumours (squamous cell carcinoma).
  • Psychosexual affects.
  • Sensory abnormalities, such as burning sensations and neuropathic pain. 

What are the tips for managing LS?

There are several ways to treat and prevent this inflammatory skin disease:

  • Gentle cleaning with mild and fragrance-free cleansers.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or soaps in the affected area.
  • Apply mild moisturisers to keep the skin hydrated.
  • Protect the affected area from direct sun exposure. 
  • Follow your doctor’s prescription promptly. 
  • Keep your follow-up visits to your doctor on track. 


It can be overwhelming to receive a diagnosis of an inflammatory skin disease affecting your genital region. Many questions, such as “How does it present?” can cause confusion. And what is the life expectancy with lichen sclerosus? While lichen sclerosus itself doesn’t affect your life expectancy, it can lead to discomfort and complications if left untreated. With proper management and timely medical care, you can effectively alleviate symptoms and maintain your quality of life. Remember to communicate openly with your doctor, follow their guidance, and attend regular check-ups for optimal care. By staying informed and proactive, you can navigate life with lichen sclerosus with confidence and peace of mind.


What percentage of people have lichen sclerosus?

Lichen sclerosus affects approximately 1 in every 300 people in the general population. If we talk about percentages, recent data shows that the estimated prevalence in children is 0.1%. It is present in 3% of post-menopausal women and men. 0.07% of men. 

Can you live a long life with lichen sclerosus?

Yes, you can. Despite being a lifelong (chronic) condition, proper treatment can resolve the symptoms and maintain quality of life. Keep in mind that life expectancy with lichen sclerosus is unrelated. 

Can genital lichen sclerosus be cured?

No, there is no complete cure for genital lichen sclerosus. Treatment options like corticosteroids and immunomodulators aim to manage bothersome symptoms like itching, swelling and burning sensations in the genital area. 

Connect with Us

My:Skyn is an all female run clinic. We speak both Urdu and Punjabi if you require.

Recent Posts

Aesthetics Awards 2023
Care Quality Commission
General Medical Council
Ace Group
Hamilton Fraser
Cosmetic Redress Scheme
Royal College of Surgeons
General Pharmaceutical Council