I was supposed to be on a Zoom call this morning for a course I’m taking. But, it’s Sunday and I wanted to prioritize some serious self-care… LS style.
My son had schoolwork to do and my daughter was sleeping in. I emailed the group, announced my absence and then got to it! Not all of my practices are for LS. Some have been part of my life for over a decade. Here’s how my day began:
- drinking warm water with lemon
- outdoor meditation, including belly breathing (find it in Lichen sclerosus and breath)
- gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free breakfast
- steeping nettle tea while I ran the tub
- mineral salt bath with vulva massage to work towards releasing areas of fusing or scarring
- post-bath application of topical estrogen cream to assist with plumping the tissues
- natural topical blend of oils to keep the tissues healthy
- vulva/pelvic massage/release techniques as taught to me by my pelvic floor therapist (Lichen sclerosus and pelvic floor therapy)
I took my time and enjoyed a slow morning of nourishing practices. In all honesty, it took me about 90 minutes. My daughter still wasn’t up by the time I’d finished.
So, how to heal lichen sclerosus naturally?
Many women with LS have a full daily care routine. I have a more minimal daily routine and include a longer session (like the one above) once or twice a week.
My LS ritual keeps me in remission and has improved the quality of my vulvar tissues.
There seems to be an order to healing:
- alleviate any itching, bacteria, fungi, yeast
- heal the tissues (abrasions, fissures, rawness)
- strengthen the skin barrier and protect the dermis
- all while addressing inflammation in the body
Let’s talk topicals.
It’s important to stop the itch/irritation in order to prevent further skin damage due to scratching.
Personally, I found pure aloe vera gel (from my plant) particularly soothing. Many women report using coconut oil with great benefit.
Soaking in a tub can relieve the itch/discomfort and prepare the skin for topicals. Finding any food triggers in your diet (sugar is a common instigator) can help reduce/eliminate itch. Including antihistamine foods may also assist (hence, the nettle tea).
Healing any abrasions, fissures or raw areas is the next goal.
There are a variety of healing salves on the market aimed directly at LS. It can get pricey, but it doesn’t have to.
Again, women report success using coconut oil, olive oil, or simple salves with natural ingredients.
If urine is aggravating, using a peri-bottle to rinse the vulva after peeing is an effective treatment for many with LS. One mom packed a special backpack for her daughter and educated the school nurse on her LS. Rather than deal with discomfort at school, her daughter could swing by the nurse’s station on her way to the bathroom and grab her supplies. A post-pee rinse goes a long way to relieve discomfort and a topical application can further sooth the vulva. Smart mom.
Strengthen the skin barrier and protect the dermis.
As mentioned above, urine can irritate the skin. The peri-bottle or a bidet can work well to alleviate this. Some women find natural water wipes are better than toilet paper, especially when the skin is raw. As the skin heals, it needs protection. A barrier cream is useful, especially if underwear or pants cause friction (loose fitting clothing can help).
“Barrier creams maintain and protect the physical barrier of the skin and prevent the skin from drying out. They stop transepidermal water loss and skin breakdown by providing a topical barrier on the skin. These creams can also heal skin tears and existing wounds.” By acting as a shield against potential irritants, they are designed to create the ideal environment for damaged skin to restore itself.Annie Gonzalez, Dermatologist – Byrdie
Barrier creams tend to be thicker. Again, this can run the gamut of prices from the expensive blends to something as simple as castor oil. My PF therapist likes Cerave®. Emu oil is a popular choice in the LS community. While blends can offer a mixture of therapeutic ingredients, if one of the ingredients disagrees with your skin, it will be tricky to figure out the culprit.
Address the underlying inflammation.
We know that gut health plays a role in autoimmune conditions. It’s important to improve the gut by reducing or eliminating processed foods, sugar and foods that create a sensitivity for you. You can have a naturopath test for these foods or keep a food journal to record any flares and what you’ve eaten. I’ve mentioned oxalates and histamines along with other dietary factors. I also covered oxidative stress and the vitamins and breathing practices that reduce OS. Include plenty of nutrient-dense foods in your diet.
Work to keep personal stress low and increase love and laughter in your life.
More natural avenues for healing lichen sclerosus.
Again, LS is unique to each person. Some women have reported good results using the following:
- Acupuncture and/or TCM
- Mona Lisa Touch laser therapy
- PRP (platelet rich plasma injections)
- Functional medicine
It’s up to you where you choose to invest your time, energy and money in your treatment plan. I’ve managed my LS well through diet, time in nature, meditation, rest, occasional soaks, vulvar tissue massage and daily topical oils/salves.
Please note, that while I love a good mineral bath, I’ve not had the severity of fissures or rawness that others report. While soaking can be soothing, be mindful of using salts in the bath if you have open cuts. Some find it fine, while others find it painful. Start with a small amount and gradually increase.
In the LS online groups, the word cure is avoided in favour of remission. Again, not a doctor. What most women with LS appear to be after is a routine that fosters remission and gives them the tools to manage any flares that crop up over time.
And, it goes without saying, this isn’t meant to replace your doctor’s advice or treatment. LS is a personal journey. You will find what works for you.
Be well. Look after yourself and get plenty of rest. Speaking of which… I wonder if my daughter is finally out of bed.
Read the next post in the series: Lichen sclerosus and the chakras (part 1)
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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.