What causes lichen sclerosus?

I often see the word remission in our LS groups. I get it. Yes, I’ll take remission. The Scorpio in me is always seeking the deeper truth. I want a cure. Not a drug or surgery. I want to know the root cause. If we understand the root cause, we can stop the condition. Or can we? 

Remember, as I told you in a previous post (Who gets lichen sclerosus?), I’m a fixer. I want to solve the mystery and fast. My head says that if I read enough research, I’ll eventually connect the dots. I’m learning, however, to practice curiosity, patience and persistence in understanding LS. My heart tells me that if I slow down, listen to my body and be present with all of the pieces of LS, I’ll gain more valuable insights than research alone can offer.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

So, what causes lichen sclerosus?

So far, the root cause is more like a root soup and each person’s ingredients are unique. Here is what I have found to date to be among the long grocery list of items. The LS soup appears to be any number of these ingredients combined (in no particular order):

1. Hormone imbalance (low estrogen)

2. Autoimmune disorders (there are often reports of a secondary disorder)

3. Bacterial, parasitic, fungal infection at some stage of life (reports of borrelia – Lyme disease).

4. Food intolerances or allergies (even nickel allergy comes up here), leaky gut

5. Genetic predisposition 

6. Issues processing oxalates or histamines

7. Physical, mental, or emotional trauma (for me, this is the least understood of the factors)

There’s also the question of mineral imbalance which has come up in many online conversations, and I see thyroid and adrenal health pop up as well.

That’s an interesting list of ingredients.

Personally, I had amoebic dysentery in my twenties. It wreaked havoc on my gut (the meds were almost as bad as the condition). I’ve struggled with hormone balance and spinal injury for a good part of my adult life. Childbirth left me with a couple traumatic tears to my vulva. My nutritionist is working with me on histamine issues and adrenal fatigue. That’s quite the soup! It’s difficult to know which are the contributing factors.

The tricky part is, if you look hard enough, you’ll find all sorts of issues and quirks in the body. Most of them are easily handled by our body’s intelligence. Not everything is related to LS. You don’t want to start looking for as many ingredients as you can to put in that soup. Some things just do not go together.

So, why does one person get lichen sclerosus and not another?

That’s difficult to say. There is the genetic predisposition component and I’m certain other ingredients we’ve yet to identify. The key is that it’s not one thing. We can’t blame any of these ingredients alone. It’s whatever’s combined that makes a recipe for a good soup and it could even be simpler than we know.

The Mayo Clinic has this to say about the cause of LS:

The cause of lichen sclerosus is unknown. An overactive immune system or an imbalance of hormones may play a role. Previous skin damage at a particular site on your skin may increase the likelihood of lichen sclerosus at that location. Lichen sclerosus isn’t contagious and cannot be spread through sexual intercourse.

Maybe it’s less about the cause and more about the care. Perhaps it’s the body’s way of sending a wake-up call about underlying inflammation that needs to be addressed with nutrition, treatment, rest and healing. I’m going to get to all of that in upcoming posts.

In the meantime, repeat after me:

It’s not my fault. I didn’t do anything wrong. I am not alone in this. I am more than capable of managing my LS.

Time for lunch. I think I’ll go make some soup 😉

Much love,

Stephanie

Read the next post in the series: Who treats lichen sclerosus?


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**This blog is meant to inform, not diagnose or treat specific health conditions. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Always consult your doctor or health care practitioner.

1 https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lichen-sclerosus/symptoms-causes/syc-20374448

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