Lichen sclerosus

A woman writes in to say that her niece has recently been diagnosed with this disease, a painful skin condition usually affecting the vulva (or penis) and anus. The symptoms are thinning skin, white patches of skin, itching and/or burning, painful sexual intercourse and sores or lesions resulting from scratching. Conventional medicine offers only steroids to ease symptoms. Does anyone out there have any advice or suggestions for remedies, supplements, experiences? The Vulval Pain Society (www.vul-pain.dircon.co.uk) and the National Lichen Sclerosus Support Group (www.lichenschlerosus.org) offer Web-based support groups specialising in sharing ideas, tips and treatment information among sufferers, as well as workshops with specialist doctors. Get a hold of “The V Book” by Dr. Elizabeth Stewart (out of print but available second-hand on Amazon), which sets out the causes and conventional treatments of vulval pain disorders; you will then be well-informed when speaking to said specialists. As for topical treatment, try Beta-mannan, which is found in aloe vera gel. In such a sensitive area, witch hazel, tea tree oil, or oil of oregano may also help. One woman had much success using argane oil, seeing a herbalist and using a blend of calendula and comfrey cream (as well as the occasional hospital steroid cream). She recommends your niece keep to a healthy organic diet, cutting down on sugar, dairy and wheat. She notes that lichen sclerosus seems to worsen with emotional stress, but there’s good news: in her case, the condition is under control 80% of the time.