Does Lichen Sclerosus Smell? (Symptoms & Treating It With Changes In Your Diet)

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Those suffering from genital lichen sclerosus might experience a foul smell. Little research has been done on it as a symptom and how to treat it, but a change in diet to low-oxalate meals might reduce this symptom. A urine test can help determine the amount of oxalate in your body. Eliminate high-oxalate foods and couple your low-oxalate diet with calcium citrate supplements or high calcium foods can help reduce its absorption in the body. Reducing the amount of oxalate will also help reduce inflammation caused in areas affected by lichen sclerosus. Drinking plenty of water can flush out excess oxalate. Taking baking soda or salt baths and reducing longer sitting times might also help.

Lichen sclerosus is an uncommon condition that makes one go through a challenging time.

Since there’s no sure treatment option to treat this condition, those affected can only manage it with the proper treatment.

A foul smell is another sign many people go through among the symptoms suffered, such as pain, itching, and discomfort.

Not mentioned much, most people who do detect a smell aren’t able to find the right way to deal with this particular symptom.

In this article, we will look at this symptom which isn’t common of lichen sclerosus, but many people hide or ignore it, and what can be done to deal with it. 

Lichen sclerosus symptoms

It can be described as a skin disorder that causes small areas of skin to become thin and discolored so that a white patch develops. 

Mostly occurring in menopausal women, there’s no gender or age restriction to this condition because it also affects other genders, postmenopausal women and children. 

The common symptoms of lichen sclerosus observed in people include:

  • Small, shiny white spots that develop into white patches of thinned, crinkled skin
  • Itching
  • Pain
  • Discomfort
  • Bleeding
  • Blisters
  • Scarring
  • Soreness and discomfort
  • Painful urination
  • Painful sexual intercourse

This condition can affect any part of the skin on the body, from arms, back, and breasts, but the genital area and anus are the most affected areas. 

In the genital area, there’re several more precautions a person needs to take to ensure that they don’t get blisters, which are easy to get in such conditions.

The clothes you wear and the activities you can perform all need to be controlled.

Getting this condition in the genital or anus area might make people experience a foul smell. Let’s take a look at what causes it.

Foul smell symptom of lichen sclerosus

Among the various symptoms of lichen sclerosis (like vaginal discharge, white skin, irritation, and burning), a foul smell isn’t one of the symptoms because it’s not a common type that people might experience, but that doesn’t mean people don’t suffer from it.

Especially for those who get this condition in their genital and anus area complain of having this strange smell not only from the surrounding area but also from their urine.

Though there’s no scientific explanation for this particular symptom, those who suffer from it find it challenging to deal with it since there’s not much information available.

One possible explanation could be that it starts to develop when someone sits for a long time without moving around.

Certain food items could also be the culprit behind this foul smell and especially food that’s high in oxalate. 

Low-oxalate diet to prevent lichen sclerosus smell

An avocado toast is a good low-oxalate meal

Lichen sclerosus is a chronic and inflammatory skin disease, and there’s not much research done on what might cause the odor.

But Vulva Pain Society provides some research on how food items high in oxalate lead to this strong smell and how eating a low-oxalate diet might reduce the smell and affect pain level. 

Oxalate is one of the byproducts of our body’s metabolism.

While it’s produced by our body, certain food items are also rich in oxalate. We can’t stop our body from making oxalate but reducing external consumption can help.

It’s because a body with a high oxalate intake causes inflammation.

Urine smell might also be one of the potential causes of excreting a lot of oxalates as it passes out of the body through urine and stool.

Foods high in oxalate 

  • Spinach, raw and cooked
  • Canned pineapple
  • Boxed cereals
  • Dried fruits
  • Rhubarb
  • Rice bran
  • Bran flakes
  • Soy flour
  • Brown rice flour
  • Almonds
  • Potatoes in every form
  • Buckwheat groats
  • Beets
  • Turnips
  • Cocoa powder and hot chocolate
  • Almonds
  • Nut products, like peanut butter

Food low in oxalate to eat

  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Beef
  • Dairy products
  • Avocadoes
  • Apples
  • Melon
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Broccoli
  • Asparagus
  • Cauliflower
  • Lettuce
  • White chocolate
  • Green peas
  • Oils such as olive and vegetable oil
  • Herbs and seasonings 
  • Beer and most alcohol
  • Coffee
  • Weak, lightly steeped green tea

Even if there are no extensive studies on this matter, having a low-oxalate diet won’t harm you but only help you out, even if small.

If your urine test already shows high oxalate levels, changing to a low-oxalate diet will only be effective for you. 

It will help reduce the smell and inflammation in the body, especially the genital area skin affected by lichen sclerosus. 

You can couple low-oxalate food with calcium citrate supplement or high calcium foods as calcium binds the oxalate, reducing its absorption into the body’s tissue. 

Other ways to reduce smell

  1. Try not to sit down in one position for a long time. Working on a stand-up desk can be the most helpful solution if you’ve got a desk job. Keep moving in between to prevent the smell from becoming strong.
  2. When bathing, don’t use any soap or genital wash products to clean the area. You can also try having salt baths or adding 4 to 5 tablespoons of baking soda to your water, as it works as a natural deodorizer. Wear cotton underwear.
  3. Since this condition is a trial-and-error method, what works for one wouldn’t work for another person. You can also try stopping using steroid cream, and there’s also a colloidal oatmeal bath option to try.

Tips for your diet

A dietician is speaking to her client about adjusting to a low-oxalate diet to help with her lichen sclerosus

Trying out a low-oxalate diet might help you reduce the smell and deal with it. But eliminating so many food items, especially things like chocolate and potatoes, can seem difficult and sometimes even impossible.

To motivate oneself making a list of things to be avoided and things that can be consumed is an excellent way to start.

You can make a list and stick it to your fridge or kitchen cabinets so you don’t accidentally consume high-oxalate food.

Another way to deal with such restrictions is to keep a diary of what food items are causing the most trouble so you can completely eliminate them and eat those which aren’t causing so much trouble.

Find out recipes that use low-oxalate foods as ingredients to help you overcome the sense of loss.

Keeping hydrated can help flush out excess oxalate if you accidentally consume items. 

FAQs

How do you clean with lichen sclerosus?

– Carefully clean and dry the area by patting down it.
– Don’t use any soap or body wash on it.
– Keep monitoring the affected area.
– Regular follow-ups with doctor.

Are there new treatments for lichen sclerosus?

The current treatment plans for lichen sclerosus include topical corticosteroids, UV light treatment for the affected area excluding the genital area, immune modulating medications like pimecrolimus, ciclosporin, or methotrexate, and other medications such as oral corticosteroids, or oral retinoids. 

What happens to the clitoris with lichen sclerosus?

Under this condition, the skin might scar and join with the nearby skin changing the whole structure of the vulva.

It might even make your labia minora appear to flatten, or the clitoris can get buried, and the opening of the vagina might shrink.

Different people experience different conditions. 

What can be mistaken for lichen sclerosus?

Other health conditions that could mimic this condition include vitiligo, severe vulvovaginal atrophy, lichenification disorders such as lichen planus, lichen simplex chronicus, vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia, and vulvar squamous cell carcinoma. 

Women might be frequently misdiagnosed with bacterial infection or yeast infection due to the symptom of foul smell down there.

A skin biopsy can confirm the case.

To summarise

Lichen sclerosus is a chronic skin condition that can affect any part of the skin. The issue with smell as a symptom mainly arises when you’re affected in the genital or anus area and is also common with urine passed.

Though there’s a little study done on smell as a symptom and even lesser to treat it. But a change in diet from high-oxalate to low-oxalate might help those currently dealing with this issue. Taking baking soda or salt baths might also be helpful.

Try to not have longer sitting sessions. 

Having your urine tested to determine the oxalate level can motivate you to change your diet, and referring to a professional dietician can help you better tackle this situation. You’ve got this!

Saumya Malik
I'm an ardent follower of everything good for the health and wellness of body and mind. I am passionate about providing effective solutions to general health and mental well-being issues and wants to help people achieve the same. When I'm not writing, you can find me curled up with a good book in a corner or cooking as a form of good mental therapy.
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