There are certain conditions which are hard to tell apart because they have a tendency to develop in similar ways. Lichen sclerosus and lichen planus are two diseases, which are hard to tell apart without the right diagnosis from a specialist. It is therefore important to discern these two conditions and figure out whether they are related or not. Both lichen planus and lichen sclerosus are common skin conditions, with different characteristics, but are they linked together?

Advertisement

What is Lichen Sclerosus?

Lichen sclerosus is a chronic skin disorder that often affects the external genitalia – vulva, perianal region and head of the penis. However, other areas of the body may also be affected. The development of lichen sclerosus is accompanied by various symptoms including intense itching with pain and discomfort. The condition causes thinning of the affected areas, hence it can tear and bruise easily. It is most common with post-menopausal women.

Advertisement

What is Lichen Planus?

Lichen planus is also a skin disorder that often affects the skin and in other cases, inside the mouth and vagina. Lichen planus comes in different forms, which are basically identified based on the area affected. For example, LP affecting the mouth is called oral LP, while lichen planus affecting the vulva is known as vulval lichen planus. In addition to that, lichen planus also affects the scalp, which can lead to hair loss, as well as cause nail problems.

Is Lichen Sclerosus Related to Lichen Planus?

Advertisement

Is Lichen Sclerosus Related to Lichen Planus?

Similarities Between Lichen Planus And Lichen Sclerosus:

Lichen sclerosus and lichen planus may be two different conditions, but they are alike in more than one way. Ways in which lichen planus and lichen sclerosus are similar includes;

  • The etiology of both diseases is unknown. That is, there are no known causes of the conditions.
  • Both are autoimmune disorders. An autoimmune disorder is one that occurs when your immune overacts in a negative way affecting the body in one way or the other.
  • Lichen planus and lichen sclerosus are not contagious diseases meaning you cannot contract it from someone or transfer it to them.
  • It affects people of different ages including children and older adults, however, the common population prone to the conditions are middle-aged people.
  • There is no cure for lichen planus, nor is there a cure for lichen sclerosus. However, treatment is available to ease the symptoms associated with the diseases.
  • When both conditions affect the vulva, they can lead to scarring and shrinking of the skin around the lips of the vagina.

Differences Between Lichen Sclerosus And Lichen Planus:

  • Regardless of how similar the two diseases might be on a higher level, they are quite different on a deeper level. The following are ways in which lichen sclerosus differs from lichen planus.
  • Lichen sclerosus affects the exterior of the vulva whereas lichen planus affects the inside of the vulva. Lichen planus has a high infinity for mucosal membranes, while LS does not.
  • Lichen sclerosus is more common in the private areas while lichen planus often attacks the skin.
  • Lichen sclerosus does not cause rawness inside the vagina, but lichen planus does.
  • On one hand, Lichen sclerosus causes itchy white patches on the genitalia. On the other, lichen planus causes inflammations that may appear like red rashes with white streaks and are not necessarily itchy.
  • Lichen sclerosus is linked with diseases such as alopecia areata, vitiligo, pernicious anemia, and thyroiditis. Lichen planus is linked with infections such as hepatitis C, ulcerative colitis, vitiligo, morphea and alopecia areata.

Conclusion

There is no right way of answering whether lichen sclerosus is related to lichen planus or not. However, you cannot deny the fact that both relate in terms of how they manifest and the basic information known about them. It is therefore important that whenever you experience symptoms caused by either of the diseases, you go for diagnosis. Sometimes, you may think you have lichen sclerosus, while in fact, you have lichen planus, and vice versa. The relationship between the two is linked via the symptoms a patient may be experiencing, as some of them do not distinguish the two illnesses properly. In addition to that, lichen sclerosus and lichen planus may be linked with other diseases, which are common in both such as alopecia areata and vitiligo.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: April 5, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

Advertisement

Sign Up for Our Newsletter

We'll help you live each day to the healthiest