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BACKGROUND: Lichen sclerosus (LS) is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that mostly affects the anogenital region of women and lowers patients' quality of life. Current standard treatment of LS is topical steroids. OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of topical progesterone 8% ointment and compare to standard therapy with topical clobetasol propionate 0.05% in premenopausal women presenting with previously untreated early onset LS. STUDY DESIGN: Randomized, double-blind, 2-arm, single center superiority trial in premenopausal women with histologically confirmed vulvar LS who were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to receive clobetasol propionate 0.05% ointment or progesterone 8% ointment. The primary outcome was the clinical severity LS score after 12 weeks, which consists of six clinical features assessed by the physician. Secondary outcomes were the symptom severity LS score, which consists of three symptoms rated by the patient, the Short Form SF-12 physical and mental health scores, and adverse events. Response to medication was assessed by biopsy at the end of the treatment to evaluate inflammatory parameters. RESULTS: Overall, 105 women were screened, 102 underwent vulvar biopsy and 37 received a histologically confirmed diagnosis of LS and were randomized: 17 to progesterone and 20 to clobetasol propionate. At 12 weeks, the mean clinical LS scores improved from 4.6 (SD 2.0) to 4.5 (SD 1.7) in the progesterone arm, and from 4.6 (SD 2.8) to 2.9 (SD 2.2) in the clobetasol propionate arm (difference in favor of clobetasol 1.61; 95% CI 0.44 to 2.77, p = 0.009), and the mean symptom severity LS scores improved from 4.5 (SD 3.8) to 3.1 (SD 3.0) in the progesterone arm, and from 4.7 (SD 2.8) to 1.9 (SD 1.8) in the clobetasol propionate arm (difference in favor of clobetasol 1.32; 95% CI -0.25 to 2.89, p = 0.095). LS was in complete remission in 6 out of 10 patients (60%) with available biopsy in the progesterone arm, and in 13 out of 16 patients (81.3%) in the clobetasol propionate arm (odds ratio in favor of clobetasol 0.35; 95% CI 0.06 to 2.06, p = 0.234). No drug-related serious adverse event occurred during the trial. CONCLUSIONS: Topical progesterone 8% ointment is inferior to standard therapy with topical clobetasol propionate 0.05% in previously untreated premenopausal women with vulvar LS after 12 weeks treatment.

Original publication




Journal article


Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol

Publication Date





88 - 95


Clobetasol propionate, Lichen sclerosus, Progesterone, Administration, Topical, Chronic Disease, Clobetasol, Female, Glucocorticoids, Humans, Lichen Sclerosus et Atrophicus, Ointments, Pilot Projects, Progesterone, Quality of Life, Vulvar Lichen Sclerosus