Understanding Dermatological Descriptions

Doctors are accustomed to using words that may sound foreign to lay people. They’ve spent years in college and medical school using these terms, so they come easily, like second nature. But when a guy finds a penis skin issue has suddenly appeared, he doesn’t have time to bone up on his dermatological phrases and definitions before seeking out the doc. He just wants to know if the penis skin issue is a serious penis health issue, and what he needs to do about it.

There are scores of dermatological descriptions, and most of us don’t really know the exact meanings. A bump is a bump, a rash is a rash. But chances are that when the dermatologist is asking questions, or is examining a guy’s privates and telling him what they see, they’re going to describe his penis skin with terms that mean more to them than to the patient. With that in mind, here are a few common dermatological descriptions that it pays to understand.

– Macule. A macule is an area of skin that is a different color than the skin surrounding it, but which generally is not raised, like a bump or a lump. On penis skin, macules tend to be very small, less than 1 cm in diameter.

– Patch. But what if a macule is larger than 1 cm? Then it’s not a macule anymore; it’s a patch.

– Lesion. Any abnormal change in tissue is referred to as a lesion. A “gross” lesion is not necessarily repugnant; it just means that it is large enough that it can be seen by the naked eye. (If it requires a microscope to be seen, it’s called a histologic lesion.)

– Papule. A small lesion (usually less than 1 cm) that is raised to some degree (and therefore could be considered a bump). Pearly penile papules are a common penis skin issue for many men. Papules can be any color.

– Plaque. In dermatological terms, plaque is basically a larger (bigger than 1 cm) papule. It’s not higher than a typical plaque, and the top tends to be flat. They also usually have a well-defined border or edge.

– Nodule. An even larger papule (bigger than 1.5 cm) may be a nodule. Unlike a plaque, nodules are taller than a papule.

– Blister. A little “bag” of skin that is filled with some fluid is referred to as a blister. The fluid is usually clear-ish, but sometimes it may contain blood and therefore will take on a reddish hue.

– Vesicle. A vesicle is a blister smaller than 1 cm. When the vesicle is cut and the fluid runs out, the vesicle generally collapses.

– Bulla. If a vesicle is bigger than 1 cm, it is considered a bulla.

– Pustule. When the fluid inside a vesicle is made up of neutrophils, it is called a pustule. Neutrophils are a kind of white blood cell, important in the make-up of the immune system.

– Ulcer. An ulcer is a sore on the skin which causes some loss of skin tissue. The area is often red due to infection and inflammation.

– Verrucous. This describes a lesion that is pebbly or rough.

– Umbilicated. Umbilicated refers to a lesion with an indentation in the middle. These kinds of lesions are most often caused by a virus.

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