Covid-19 aka coronavirus has turned our world upside down. So I went searching to see what people in the online communities were saying about it. Some had questions and concerns about our risk as Lichen Sclerosus patients.
They asked questions like, does LS or our treatment make us susceptible to Covid-19? What makes you high risk? What’s the difference between autoimmune and immunosuppressive? So, I went researching, reached out to some doctors, and this is what I found.
What About Lichen Sclerosus Could Put Us At Risk?
In previous episodes, we learned researchers believe Lichen Sclerosus is an autoimmune disease with a genetic component. This means our immune system attacks healthy tissue. Imagine soldiers attacking their own civilians because they think they are the enemy. This is how an autoimmune disease behaves.
By this definition I can conclude, people with autoimmune diseases are not at higher risk for Covid-19 because their immune systems are working at a normal or higher level, it’s just attacking the wrong cells.
Who Is At High Risk For Covid-19?
- Elderly 65 and older but especially 80+
- Diabetics (no matter what type)
- People with heart conditions (high blood pressure, cholesterol, plaque around the heart or in the arteries, etc.)
- Those with asthma, COPD, and smokers (already have compromised lungs)
- People with compromised immune systems
- People with cancer
- People with HIV/AIDS
- People who have had a transplant
- People taking high doses of steroids or medications call biological, often for autoimmune conditions
Lichen Sclerosus is often treated with immunosuppressant drugs such as corticosteroids. This weakens the soldiers, hence they can’t hurt the civilians. Does this increase our risk?
What The Experts Say
There wasn’t enough material for a solid answer, so I reached out to Dr. Elizabeth Eden, a gynecologist specializing in Lichen Sclerosus in Manhattan New York. When asked she said, “Topical corticosteroids used for lichen sclerosus do not make one more susceptible to infection with Covid-19. People who are on immunosuppressive therapy or who are immuno-compromised are at risk of infection and complications associated with Covid-19 but just having lichen sclerosus and using topical steroid gels or creams do not place one in one of those categories.”
This was a relief. Our medication was not putting us at risk but I wondered if we should stop just in case, as we are learning new things about Covid-19 every day.
According to the British Association of Dermatology, “Not without consulting your doctor.” At this time they do not believe we are increasing our risk for Covid-19 and it’s complications by using these drugs. If you have other high-risk factors and are on immunosuppressant drugs they say speak with your medical professional and develop a plan together taking into account the risk from all sides. You could stay on the drug and have your immune system compromised or get off and let your autoimmune disease flare up and possibly progress. This has to be an educated decision considering all sides. Our best chance is to stay healthy and follow the best practices.
Lichen Sclerosus and it’s immunosuppressant treatments do not make us vulnerable for Covid-19 or its complications. Continue to take your medications unless you have discussed it with your doctor. Follow the recommended best practices to try and stay healthy. Stay calm and don’t stress.
If you think of someone who may find this information helpful please share this episode or podcast. We are all in this together! Stay safe, calm and have an amazing week.