Lichen sclerosus can occur in both men and women and in both adults and children. While it tends to occur on the genitals, it also appears on non-genital areas of the body. Treatments for non-genital patches and in children and men often stop the condition from appearing, but for adult women, treatment is likely to be lifelong and possibly frustrating. MayoClinic.com notes conventional treatments are usually effective, but those who continue to have difficulty might decide to look for alternative treatments, including diet restrictions.
Mainstream treatment for lichen sclerosus includes topical corticosteroids and other topical “immune-modulating medications,” notes MayoClinic.com. Non-genital patches can benefit from UV light treatments administered by a doctor, and hormones are another medication your doctor might have you try. No independent clinical research is available showing that avoiding certain foods will inhibit or worsen lichen sclerosus. Some health organizations mention possible foods; for example, Hamilton Health Sciences in Ontario, Canada, notes “Some women recommend avoiding acid or citrus foods.” However, this is not based on controlled research but on anecdotal evidence. An Internet search will turn up sites offering advice from avoiding sugar to following a gluten-free diet, but the sites don’t offer actual studies to back up the advice. Treat dietary claims like you would a supplement that you’d never heard of; check it out thoroughly with your doctor before trying it.
Even though it can occur in men, lichen sclerosus is sometimes counted as part of a group of vaginal disorders known as vulvodynia. Some research exists that ties a diet low in oxalates to improvement in vulvodynia symptoms. A March 1999 study in “American Family Physician” reports on case studies in which adult women with vulvar irritation and vulvodynia diagnoses tried a low-oxalate diet along with several other remedies; these women did report improvement, but their symptoms did not include lichen sclerosus specifically. The researchers speculate that oxalates, found in foods like spinach and nuts, can create long-term irritation.
Reports of positive results from following a low-oxalate diet are purely anecdotal, and the overall treatments included other medications; it remains uncertain which part of the treatment had the most effect. Oxalates are common in foods normally considered important to good health, so work with a dietitian if you choose to try a low-oxalate diet. In addition to spinach and nuts, oxalates are in beets, chocolate, soy, collard greens, chard, buckwheat and several other foods.
The BBC notes eating a healthy diet that provides you with appropriate amounts of zinc and vitamins C and E is good for general skin health. As with any skin condition, it makes sense to avoid foods that are nutritionally empty and that provide only extra calories, to ensure you have enough room for foods that contain the nutrients you want.