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Clothing and Lichen Sclerosus

Clothing and Lichen Sclerosus

Introduction

Lichen sclerosus can impact many aspects of our lives. For example, it can influence our relationship with ourselves, our relationships with others, our mental health, our sexual health, and even our clothing. Yes, lichen sclerosus and clothing can be a big deal for many folks.

While it may seem simple, clothing and lichen sclerosus can affect our mental health (in addition to exacerbating symptoms). I will do another blog on the mental health impact of clothing and LS in early 2024; stay tuned. For today's post, I take a more practical approach to clothing and lichen sclerosus by addressing the questions, “What clothing is recommended for lichen sclerosus,” “What clothing should I wear in a flare,” and “Will I ever be able to wear my old pants again”?

*I have no affiliate links in this post. Any brand I mention is either just one I like or one I have heard others recommend. I get no commission if you purchase from any of these links.

My Advice on Clothing and Lichen Sclerosus

To be transparent, no medical literature or guidelines on this topic exist. In what follows, I will share my perspective as a patient with lichen sclerosus.

What Clothing to Avoid

I would avoid anything clothing that aggravates your symptoms if you are symptomatic.

I would also avoid tight clothing that is not breathable in the early stages of your healing or while in a flare.

However, when I say avoid these clothes, I do not necessarily mean you must avoid them for the rest of your life. As your symptoms calm and when you get into remission, you will likely be able to wear those types of clothing again. I will share my journey with this later in the post.

Best Clothing When in a Lichen Sclerosus Flare

Ultimately, if you are in a flare, you want to wear whatever is most comfortable. 

This will look different for each individual. Some folks will go commando and only wear dresses. Others will wear their preferred underwear of choice and loose, baggy cotton pants. 

Overall, most folks in the LS community will say they prefer loose, soft, breathable clothing during a flare.

For example, Cottonique's loungewear pant is made from 100% chemical-free, GOTS-certified cotton fabric. The pants are lightweight, breathable, and designed for sensitive skin and skin prone to allergies and dermatitis.

Two images of different white colored lounge pants from the brand Cottonique, which makes clothing for folks with sensitive skin/allergies. Screencap from their website.

Another example is a long-john style pant by DermaSilk. These can be worn as day clothing or nighttime pajamas.

Screen capture from DermaSilk's website on long, white, long-john style pants for sensitive skin.

From the DermaSilk website:

“DermaSilk Therapeutic Clothing is used in the treatment of various forms of dermatitis, eczema, and allergic skin conditions that affect different areas of the body across all age groups. Used both as underwear by day and as nightwear, this fabric allows the skin to breathe and controls temperature and humidity – reducing itch and controlling flares”.

DermaSilk

Pro-tip: Like with underwear, I size up my ‘flare' pants to be extra baggy and have a lot of room in the vulvar space. Tight pants will rub against the vulva, which can exacerbate itch, pain, and soreness when symptomatic or in a flare.

Clothing and Lichen Sclerosus: Pants

As mentioned above, you can wear more types of fabric and styles as your symptoms improve, you feel better, and you get into remission. It is a personal choice, and everyone's comfort level will vary.

Once you start feeling better, you can slowly try bringing different clothing styles back. For example, you may want to try wearing leggings or jeans again. I always recommend moving slowly with this. For example, try wearing leggings for a couple of hours at home instead of going straight into going out for 8 hours in them. This will help gradually improve confidence in wearing different styles of pants. This also allows you to test out different types of clothing in a safe/controlled environment.

Alternatively, maybe you still want loose, breathable clothing overall, but you are tired of wearing the same ol' grey sweats and want to look more stylish.

If that is you, look at business-style slacks. Here are some images of styles you can look for in the shops/stores.

Clothing and Lichen Sclerosus: Dresses and Skirts

Dresses and skirts can be nice because they can be breathable and loose, and you can go commando with them.

Further, tight dresses and skirts may be OK since the fabric is not actually rubbing up against the vulvar skin.

I am a big fan of long, flowy, maxi dresses a) because I love the aesthetic, but also b) because you can go commando out in public and not worry about your dress or skirt pulling a Marilyn Monroe and exposing more than we would like.

Image of a person from behind, walking on a beach at sunset in a vibrant red, flowy, maxi dress.

My Experience with Clothing and Lichen Sclerosus

If you read my last post on underwear and lichen sclerosus, you know I threw out all of my sexy, lacy underwear after I was diagnosed (and regretted it later). I did something similar with my clothing.

After I was diagnosed, I figured I was doomed to wear baggy sweatpants or long dresses forever. As an avid gym goer, 90% of my wardrobe at the time was activewear – aka Lululemon legging central. Well, my Lululemon legging central quickly vanished as I packed all my leggings and brought them to a local shelter. 

For the nine months of my diagnosis, I lived in sweats, loose shorts, and long dresses in the summer.

However, as my symptoms started to improve, I started to get a little more courageous. I remember thinking, “Maybe I could wear leggings again.” I experimented cautiously, as someone with anxiety often does. For example, I started wearing leggings for 2 hours at home in my apartment. After about a month of this, with no symptom aggravation, I tried wearing them for my work shift. Later, I started wearing them at the gym again, and before I knew it, I was wearing leggings again with no problem.

Image of a persons legs wearing bright orange-red leggings and bright yellow running shoes.

Nowadays, I am in remission and have not had symptoms in over three years, and I can confidently wear any clothing without issue.

The moral of the story is do not throw out your favorite clothes; you may be able to wear them again one day.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, clothing and lichen sclerosus are unique to each individual. Wear what feels comfortable for you, and know that that may vary. For example, leggings may feel comfortable 80% of the time but not while in a flare. Some days you may feel more sore than others; on those days, you may want to opt for looser-fitting clothing. 

Let us know what you typically wear during flares or in general in the comment section below.

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Reach Out to Me

Whether you are debating booking a support call with me, have a quick question, or want to share something related to my content, I can be reached via:

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19 Comments

  • Mary

    I, too am a proponent of dresses and skirts, but on occasion do wear pants. Heat in the area seems to be an issue with me and dresses keep that at bay but not always possible so keep those off times short. Thanks Jaclyn for all that you do for us.

    • Jaclyn Lanthier

      Yup, every one is at different stages and need to listen to their body because there are no explicit rules when it comes to clothing and LS. Thanks for sharing and supporting <3

  • Sylvia

    I wish there was a company that would make leggings etc. with a breathable cotton mesh insert in the vulva area. I have modified a pair of tights to wear with skirts in the fall. Soft bamboo briefs have worked for me.
    Thank you Jaclyn.

  • Annie

    Good article. I have lichen sclerosis, but I also can wear leggings. I’m going crazy trying to find the neon orange leggings pictured here.

  • Arleigh

    You would be amazed how dressy a cotton Land’s End beach cover-up or nightgown can look with a sash tied around the waist or a scarf or necklace around the neck line. I have above the knee, midi and maxi length in my collection now. I’ve watched for the sales and clearances, bought some prints I never would have considered otherwise and I often get compliments on my “dress”.
    H&M had some nice organic cotton T-shirt dresses this summer as well. But as cooler weather is upon us, I’m experimenting with which pants I can wear without negative consequences and until I finally ordered some Woxers boxers this month, wearing underwear has been a compromise and only for when I went out.
    A sales person at Northern Reflections recently noticed me going back to the rack for an even larger pair of jeans and introduced me to the dark wash, wide leg jeans they have this year. To my surprise, my pre-LS size fit comfortably. I’m in remission but not yet ready to wear the favourite stretch cords I was thinking of giving away before I joined the network.

    • Jaclyn Lanthier

      Arleigh, did you ever work in fashion. The way you speak about clothing is so very enticing and appealing! I think some people will really find this comment helpful, so thank you for sharing all of this. Curious to check out Woxers. <3

  • Louise

    I live in Australia and have LS and have recently found an Australian Company called VEE Underwear. It is 92% organic bamboo, 8% elastane and they are so soft, cool and comfortable that you feel like you are not even wearing any undies. Finally feel like summer will be much more bearable this year.

    • Jaclyn Lanthier

      Ohhh, that’s wonderful, thanks for sharing this with us, Louise! Lots of people in Australia will benefit from your suggestion. With love,

  • Ruby

    3 yrs ago when LS showed up in my life. I immediately realized I needed to change my wardrobe.
    I’m a landscaper which means I wear jeans. I had a horrible rash from the friction. I started searching. I found a company that makes jeans were the seams do not cross the crouch area. There’s a diamond shaped fabric in that area and is very comfortable . A huge difference.

    I also change clothes asap into wearing a skirt NO underwear. Instant relief.

    Cotton underwear

    I now wear whatever I want. But when there’s a flare up I go back to limiting what I wear.

    • Jaclyn Lanthier

      Oh boy, I can only imagine landscaping in jeans with LS. Do you mind sharing the jean brand you found? I know a lot of people that would love to still have jeans as an option. Same here; whatever I want in remission, modifications when I flare. Thanks for sharing, we appreciate you <3

    • Jaclyn Lanthier

      Aw, I’m so sorry. Hopefully she can get her LS into remission; many people in remission or who are asymptomatic can wear any kind of the clothing. My heart goes out to your mother. Sending you and your family so much love <3

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