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Novel Therapeutic Approaches and Targets for Treatment of Vulvar Lichen Sclerosus

[ Vol. 22 , Issue. 1 ]


Alessandro Borghi* and Monica Corazza   Pages 99 - 114 ( 16 )


Background: Vulvar Lichen Sclerosus (VLS) is a chronic inflammatory disease with a huge impact on a person’s quality of life. A correct therapy is required for relieving symptoms, reversing signs and preventing further anatomical changes.

Objective: The main objective of the present paper is to provide suggestions for the best treatment approach, based on the available evidence. Treatment strategies are divided on the basis of the treatment phase, distinguishing options for initial, acute or attack treatment and those for long-term, maintenance treatment.

Methods: An electronic search was performed using the National Library of Medicine PubMed database. All the studies evaluating treatment of vulvar lichen sclerosus published in the English literature were analyzed, including controlled studies, case series, guidelines and reviews.

Results: Current evidence identifies ultra-potent and potent corticosteroids, administered for 12 weeks, as the first-line recommended treatment for active VLS. Topical calcineurin inhibitors, tacrolimus and pimecrolimus, are effective and safe alternatives. Long-term maintenance strategies aimed at preventing recurrences are required, after the initial treatment phase. Maintenance treatment mostly consists in topical corticosteroids, administered i) on an “as needed” basis (“reactive” scheme), ii) on a continuative regimen, iii) on a low-dose, intermittent regimen (“proactive” scheme). Further investigations are needed for better defining the placement of other options within the VLS therapeutic algorithm, including retinoids, physical and systemic treatments.

Conclusion: The available evidence provides useful indications for the management of VLS. Both the identification of new therapeutic targets and the optimization of the available options represent the main objectives of future research.


Vulvar lichen sclerosus, active treatment, maintenance treatment, topical corticosteroid, topical calcineurin inhibitor, retinoid, physical treatment.


Department of Medical Sciences, Section of Dermatology and Infectious Diseases, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Department of Medical Sciences, Section of Dermatology and Infectious Diseases, University of Ferrara, Ferrara

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