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Study on Lichen sclerosus of genitals

What we do

Lichen sclerosus (LS) is an acquired inflammatory disease, with chronic evolution and immune-mediated pathogenesis, often associated with other autoimmune diseases and with the presence of circulating auto-antibodies, both organ and non-organ specific.

The disease is characterized by a distinct predilection for the female adult population with an incidence rate ratio of female/male of about 10:1, with a preferential localization at the level of ano-genital area, in both genders and in all ages of life.

In the medical literature there are no large case studies to define epidemiological and clinical characteristics, and factors involved in the onset of this clinical condition in the Italian population.

Centro Studi GISED, in collaboration with the SIDeMaST group on diseases of the mucous membranes, conducted a clinical-epidemiological study, lasting 24 months, in male and female patients, of any age, suffering from genital LS.

The study used an epidemiological card for collecting anamnestic, physiological and pathological data to assess which are risk factors for the disease, clinical data on LS and previous and/or ongoing treatments.

Collected data (729 subjects) were analyzed in order to assess the epidemiology of genital LS in various components of the population, to identify any associated diseases and possible risk factors, to deepen knowledge of the symptoms, to assess the incidence of skin cancers, to analyze current therapies and their advisability, etc.

Compared to the general population, patients with genital LS are more frequently obese or overweight. There are multiple subjects with hypertension. High the percentage of patients with an educational level equal to or higher than upper secondary school, and more likely to perform sedentary work and be physically less active. This would suggest the involvement of metabolic factors in the onset or chronicity of the disease. The prevalence of thyroid disorders, autoimmune hypothyroidism is also high.

About 5.4% had a family history of the disease and typically an earlier onset of the disease. The associations between disease and exposure to smoking, diabetes mellitus, psoriasis, use of oral contraceptives, inflammatory bowel disease and urinary incontinence, described in previous studies, have not been confirmed.


The results of the study were published here:

Virgili A, Borghi A, Cazzaniga S, et al.. New insights into potential risk factors and associations in genital lichen sclerosus: Data from a multicentre Italian study on 729 consecutive cases. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2017;31:699-704.

Virgili A, Borghi A, Cazzaniga S, et al. Gender differences in genital lichen sclerosus. G Ital Dermatol Venereol. 2018 Jan 24.

Cazzaniga S, Naldi L, Virgili A, et al. An original exploration of genital lichen sclerosus: the semantic connectivity map. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2019 ;33:e59-e62.

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