This article is your go-to guide on understanding what lichen sclerosus is, what causes lichen sclerosus, what treatments are available for lichen sclerosus, and, of course, all about essential oils for lichen sclerosus treatment.
More specifically, we’ll go over why essential oils are effective in the treatment of lichen sclerosus, which essential oils are the best for treatment, and how to use essential oils to combat lichen sclerosus.
What is Lichen Sclerosus?
Don’t feel bad if you don’t know what LS is. It’s one of those conditions that you may never hear of, unless you are directly experiencing it. As a rare condition, lichen sclerosus (LS) affects less than 200,000 people in the U.S. each year. It presents as white patches of skin, which tends to be discovered in the genital region (1).
However, lichen sclerosus is not just a cosmetic issue. Symptoms of LS include itching, pain, tearing, pain during intercourse, and bleeding. The patchiness of skin tends to come and go, and can lead to permanent scarring, which can interfere with urination and intercourse long after the flare-up of LS (2).
LS also has a tendency to thin the skin, so those with severe disease will have difficulty performing normal physical activity or wearing certain clothing without tearing or damaging skin. This is troubling, because there is no known cure, and LS tends to be a chronic condition.
What Causes Lichen Sclerosus?
Though it is not known for certain, it is likely that hormonal and hyperactive immune systems play some role in the development. Additionally, post-menopausal women are most likely to develop this disease, lending credence to the hypothesis that hormonal changes may trigger or influence that occurrence of LS (3). Other’s theorize that there may be a strong genetic contribution to disease.
Either way, females are at a 6 times greater risk of developing lichen sclerosus than males (4).
Treatments typically are the application of prescription-strength corticosteroids, which can temporarily reduce itching, and may be able to improve skin strength.
However, this requires use multiple times per day, and it won’t reverse skin discoloration or scarring, and this treatment method has only been evaluated in females.
Unfortunately, prolonged use of corticosteroids has its own unwanted side effects, including insomnia, personality changes, depression, obesity, convulsions, and others (5).
If you have lichen sclerosus, and have tried these traditional treatments, you may be feeling hopeless. If this all feels very familiar, read this story.
It’s the remarkable retelling of a woman who dealt with debilitating LS and treatment, before venturing into the unknown. Once she tried using essential oils as a treatment, however, she didn’t look back (6)!
If you read the story, you’ll understand tat essential oils present a strong treatment option for lichen sclerosus. But, how do they work, and what are the best essential oils for lichen sclerosus?
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are concentrated extracts from various plants. There are at least 90 essential oils that are safe for use on the skin, and they possess many qualities!
Because essential oils are derived from plants natural defenses. Plants themselves have antimicrobial properties to protect from pests, for example. When they are extracted and concentrated, the resulting essential oils are used as potent treatments for a vast array of ailments.
Some essential oils are anti-inflammatory, some improve circulation, enhance/alter mood, aid in digestion, alleviate pain, reduce insomnia, banish acne, moisturize skin, and are used to treat a variety of skin conditions and diseases.
One of the important things to remember about using essential oils is that all are not created equal. Not only do different plant oils have different benefits, but different manufacturers have different methods of extracting essential oils.
As a result, some essential oil manufacturers sell un-pure products that may contain harmful, or at least unbeneficial, additives. To avoid this, make sure to buy from a reputable seller, and try to buy organic, kosher, 100% natural, pure essential oils whenever possible.
Essential Oils for Lichen Sclerosus
One of the most frustrating symptoms of lichen sclerosus is persistent itching and pain that can be relentless. Fortunately, several essential oils combat itchiness, are anti-inflammatory, and can directly reduce both pain and swelling.
Another concern of LS patient’s results from the tearing and bleeding of skin, which can leave then susceptible to infection in the genital region. For patients with severe cases of LS, and those dealing with frequent tearing of skin (the body’s first line of defense against harmful microbes), it is advised that they choose essential oils which possess anti-microbial properties.
Best Essential Oils for Lichen Sclerosus
You may be ready to jump on board with essential oils, but where do you start? There are thousands of essential oil blends out there to try, and nearly 100 types of essential oils approved for topical treatments. Here, we’ve done the hard work for you and constructed a list of the top essential oils for lichen sclerosus, as well as a brief description of why that particular oil is helpful.
Lichen sclerosus typically presents with white, patchy skin surrounded by raised red skin. The red skin is a direct result of inflammation. If you present with a classic case of lichen sclerosus, then you should seriously consider the use of lavender essential oil in your treatment regimen.
Not only will it reduce inflammation, it will reduce the chance of infection. Lavender essential oil is antiseptic, which is a great benefit for those with severe LS that deal with tearing skin and open wounds.
Eucalyptus essential oil is another great choice for those with inflammation resulting from lichen sclerosus (and other skin conditions, for that matter). The anti-inflammatory quality of eucalyptus will relieve swelling and pain when applied regularly.
Tea Tree Oil
The anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties of tea tree essential oil makes a great choice for individuals prone to painful or itchy flare-ups that leave the skin broken or irritated.
If you’ve used tea tree oil on another body part before, or want to give it a go, it can make a great addition to a treatment plan, or it can work as a standalone treatment of LS.
However, if your skin is very sensitive, it may be better to start with lavender or eucalyptus essential oil, as tea tree oil can leave a cooling sensation that may be irritating to some. Remember, if an oil results in a burning sensation, you should stop use immediately.
Peppermint essential oil is another essential oil with anti-inflammatory, and antiseptic properties. Additionally, peppermint essential oil is commonly used to relieve skin itching and pain.
It can even reduce headaches, treat IBS and other GI system issues, and target symptoms of the common cold. If you suffer from lichen sclerosus and are also prone to gastrointestinal issues or cold symptoms, this essential oil may be the best for your money.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil has several health benefits including: alleviating headaches and energizing the body.
Vivorific’s peppermint essential oil is: 100% Pure and natural, free from fillers, additives and harmful chemicals, vegan and kosher certified and sealed with tamper evident closure and Euro style dropper cap.
As research on the root causes of lichen sclerosus are still underway, it cannot be guaranteed that chamomile essential oil will address the cause of your lichen sclerosus.
However, it is helpful for other autoimmune diseases, and is revered for its ability to reduce itchiness. If you are plagued by persistent itching, chamomile may be the right essential oil for you.
Any of these essential oils could prove to be a great blend for you. You can have a fully customizable experience by selecting the essential oils that appeal the most to you to make your own blend, or choose from the Vivoric Health selection of blends to get a professional mix at a more affordable rate than creating your own blend.
This blend seems like it was specially crafted for lichen sclerosus patients. It contains eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint, and rosemary essential oil. In addition to having the benefits of eucalyptus and peppermint (discussed above), it contains two bonus essential oils that pack a punch.
Rosemary essential oil relives pain, eases stress, improves circulation, and reduces inflammation.
Lemon essential oil is highly regarded for its ability to relieve pain, improve skin quality, and heal wounds. Even better, lemon essential oil is known to reduce both anxiety and depression.
As anyone with this painful, and sometimes embarrassing, condition can tell you, anxiety and depression are common side-effects of the disease. Coupled with the fear that the condition is irreversible, it is likely that most LS patients deal with mental health troubles at some point.
Aside from all of these qualities, the Energy Blend also smells incredible, and can be used as a go-to treatment for stress, adrenal health, low energy, and insomnia. Use it as you would any of the single essential oils listed above.
How To Use Essential Oils for Lichen Sclerosus
To use as a topical treatment, simply dilute a small amount (dime-sized) of essential oil and massage it into the affected area. Repeat up to twice daily.
Remember, for topical use, like in the treatment of lichen sclerosus, essential oils must be heavily diluted in a neutral carrier oil (1-2% concentrations are recommended, meaning 1-2 drops of essential oil for every 100 or so drops of a carrier oil).
Carrier oils can be chosen at your discretion, though common choices include jojoba oil*, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil**, shea butter, almond oil, or even an unscented lotion. The key here is just to pick an oil without a strong scent, or any oil or lotion that may irritate your skin.
When using a new essential oil or carrier oil, it is best to try the oil on a small area of skin that is not affected by a skin condition, to make sure you do not have an adverse reaction.
*For the treatment of lichen sclerosus, jojoba oil may be one of the best choices. It is anti-inflammatory itself, sooths irritation, and is a very good moisturizer given its similarity to oil naturally secreted by the body (7, 8).
**Coconut oil is another exceptional choice for a carrier oil in the treatment of lichen sclerosus. Coconut oil is antimicrobial, which is a great benefit for those dealing with cracking, tearing, or bleeding of the skin. Additionally, coconut oil is a good moisturizer and it is anti-inflammatory (9).
In between use of a topical treatment, you may benefit from essential oil bathes. However, it is important to remember that essential oils are oils, and thus not water-soluble. Therefore, it is critical that you properly disperse the oil in the tub.
To do so, use foaming products (like bubble bath or shampoo), or a carrier oil (10). You can also add Epsom salt or oatmeal if you’d like, but just remember that you also need a carrier oil or foaming product to safely bathe with essential oils.
The benefit of using essential oils during a soak is that the warm water will aid in soothing skin and opening pores, and the extended duration of exposure may allow for more essential oils to be absorbed.
Depression and anxiety are, unfortunately, common amongst individuals dealing with lichen sclerosus. In addition to having a, sometimes debilitating, disease in an private region of the body, individuals also have trouble finding connections with other people suffering from the disease.
Due to its location, many afflicted individuals suffer in silence. To make matters worse, doctors tell their patients that skin damage is irreversible, and that it is a chronic condition.
Taking the time to treat your mental wellbeing can greatly ease stress brought on by disease. Though using a diffuser will not directly treat the lichen sclerosus skin condition, it provides a mountain of help to those who suffer from it.
Simply pick any oil to enhance relaxation or reduce anxiety and depression (lemon or lavender essential oils make great choices), fill the water dispenser in your room diffuser, and add a few drops of the essential oil. Relax near the diffuser for as long as you like, and take long, deep breaths to obtain the greatest mood-lifting benefits.
You May Also Like