Editor’s Note: Today, we’re taking another detour from our usual blog posts that present information from our own medical team and staff. As we did a few weeks ago, we’re presenting a case study that we recently received from a patient who wants to share her personal journey with our healthcare practice, this time for a case of Lichen Sclerosus.

Below, in her own words, is 42-year-old Janet’s experience with Lichen Sclerosus. If you’re not familiar with Lichen Sclerosus, it is a chronic inflammatory skin condition primarily affecting the genital and perianal areas, although it can occur on other parts of the body. Common symptoms include:

  • Smooth white patches of skin
  • Itching, discomfort, and pain
  • Easy bruising or tearing
  • Painful sex and painful or difficult urination (if it affects the genital area)

The condition is more common in women, particularly those who are postmenopausal, but it can also affect men and children.

Next week, we’ll be back to our normal format with a blog post featuring our plan of care and some additional thoughts about treating patients living with Lichen Sclerosus.

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My Journey With Lichen Sclerosus

The most important thing I learned from my journey with Lichen Sclerosus is that the first thing I should have done is visited with someone like Dr. Matthew Lewis at PROKOVE Health.

Prior to seeing Dr. Lewis, I had been dealing with the symptoms of Lichen Sclerosus for more than 10 years. At first, I suffered from itch and irritation, but I didn’t have the classic “white patches.” I consulted multiple doctors, primary care and Ob/Gyn, who diagnosed me as having yeast infections and prescribed repeated courses of fluconazole (an anti-fungal medication). Given the inconvenience of repeat visits to doctors who provide little to no relief, I started using over-the-counter creams, suppositories, and probiotics, none of which was very effective.

Lichen Sclerosus medical form image

Four years ago, the disease progressed to the point where I could no longer tolerate it. My skin began to tear when I had intercourse, and I was dealing with persistent irritation and discomfort. I consulted three more Ob/Gyns and received ineffective treatment recommendations — from changing soap and laundry detergent to using prescription estrogen cream to having surgery. I went to a functional medicine doctor and saw minor improvement after addressing nutritional deficiencies and making dietary changes. However, the discomfort was still consuming my life and causing tension in my marriage.

About three years ago, after conducting my own internet research and bringing it to the attention of my doctors, I finally received a diagnosis of Lichen Sclerosus and was prescribed the standard of care — topical steroids. When my condition continued to worsen, my physician performed a series of experimental, in-office procedures with the goal of rejuvenating the affected skin. The procedures brought me no relief, and the only option I was offered was to try another round of procedures. The physician went so far as to say I should lower my expectations. I continued to seek alternative solutions through Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and experimental laser.

In December 2023, we uncovered mold in our home, and I was referred to Dr. Lewis for his expertise in mold and mycotoxin exposure.

My Medical History

Dr. Lewis conducted a thorough review of my medical history and all my prior tests and interventions. I explained that I was looking for a healthcare partner to help me get back to living life without Lichen Sclerosusbeing at the top of my mind all the time. I was hoping to identify what might be the root cause(s) or trigger(s), because I was constantly guessing and trying things that didn’t work or exacerbated the problem. I needed answers and a solution.

I explained that I had been experiencing symptoms for about 10 years but received a diagnosis of Lichen Sclerosus just three years ago. In November 2021, I started to experience brain fog and tingling in my hands and feet after a severe COVID infection. I had a second COVID infection in 2022, which was treated with a Regeneron injection.

I shared my thoughts about what may have caused or contributed to the onset of the Lichen Sclerosus, which included the following:

  • Mold exposure
  • Past use of antibiotics
  • Past use of fluconazole
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) and/or other exposures/infections, including repeated yeast infections, a severe bacterial infection approximately 10 years ago (on a trip to Mexico) that was treated with IV antibiotics, a staph skin infection about 8 years ago, multiple strep infections as a child that were treated with antibiotics, and COVID (which seemed to add to my symptom profile)
  • 20 years of oral contraceptives (most recently Isibloom desogestrel and ethinyl estradiol tablets .15 mg/.03 mg)

I also shared a list of what made symptoms worse, which included:

  • Sex
  • Synthetic materials
  • Soaps/detergents
  • Walking (the friction, the sweating, or both)
  • Chlorinated pools
  • Alcohol (worsens tingling in the hands and feet)

Additional health concerns I had were related to what I suspected were my hormones:

  • Irregular periods
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Have trouble falling asleep
  • Have trouble staying asleep

Targeting the Underlying Causes

Dr. Lewis very quickly diagnosed a likely histamine issue and created a treatment plan including antihistamines, nutraceuticals, and vitamin injections, along with an antihistamine diet. Additionally, he had me stop all the things that were not providing relief and were likely counterproductive to healing.

Within a week or so, the irritation was gone. It wasn’t just a little better; it was gone. I was completely symptom free for the first time in 10-plus years. Dr. Lewis fine-tuned the plan by adding peptides to restore skin health, and hormone replacement to address the imbalance caused by long-term contraceptive use. During my last Ob/Gyn visit, the doctor described my condition as in remission, and I am no longer experiencing pain during intercourse.

My experience working with Dr. Lewis has been nothing short of life changing. My only wish is that I had found him earlier, when I first started having symptoms.

Editor’s Note: Check back next week for Part Two in this series and to find out about our treatment regimen for Lichen Sclerosus. In the meantime, if Janet’s story sounds similar to your own story, feel free to contact us to schedule an initial consultation. We’d be happy to help!

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Disclaimer: The information in this blog post about Lichen Sclerosus is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect current medical thinking or practices. No information contained in this blog post should be construed as medical advice from Dr. Matthew Lewis, Functional Healthcare Group, PLLC, or PROVOKE Health, nor is this blog post intended to be a substitute for medical counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this blog post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through this blog post without seeking the appropriate medical advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a licensed medical professional in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.