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What Is Penile Melanosis?

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Penile Melanosis or penile lentiginosis is a rare skin condition that causes dark brown patches on the shaft or head of the penis. This condition is harmless or benign and shouldn't be a cause for alarm. Besides, penile melanosis isn't contagious or infectious, meaning you can't transmit it to another person.

In this article, we'll look at everything you need to know about penile melanosis, including its symptoms, causes, and treatment options. So, let's dive in!

Symptoms of Penile Melanosis

Besides hyperpigmentation (macules or dark spots), penile melanosis has no other dominant health symptoms. The hyperpigmentation manifests in the following ways.

  • Patches that are either black or brown
  • Patches no more than a centimetre in length
  • A single dark spot on penis or several spots
  • Painless patches that don't bleed or change over time
  • This condition can appear at any age but is common between 15 and 72 years.

In some cases, penile Melanosis is associated with lichen sclerosus. Lichen sclerosus is a condition that causes thinning out of the penile skin couped by the appearance of some whitish spots on the foreskin and the head of the penis. It is believed that this condition is caused by hormonal imbalance or poor immune system response.

Lichen sclerosus is treatable using topical medications. However, these topical medications (steroids) can't change pigmentations caused by penile melanosis. Lichen sclerosus is common in uncircumcised males because it attacks the foreskin. This means it can be treated by circumcision.  

The Causes and Risk Factors of Penile Melanosis

Unfortunately, the root cause of penile melanosis hasn't been established yet. But the bottom line is, the brown patches result from hyperpigmentation or a high concentration of melanin on the skin, which can also occur on any other part of the body.

This condition can also be triggered by a high concentration of other pigmentary agents such as lipofuscin, ferrous sulphate, and hemosiderin in the penile skin.

Some scientists also believe that a man's genetic makeup or race may predispose them to penile melanosis.

Other risk factors of this condition are penile injury, anthralin (psoriasis medication), or PUVA therapy, a procedure used to treat skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

When thinking about penile melanosis causes and risk factors, don't think of it as a sexually transmitted infection because it isn't infectious and doesn't portray any form of infection in the body.

Treatment Options for Penile Melanosis

Penile melanosis isn't a serious condition because it's just a build-up of melanin or other pigmentary cells and therefore doesn't require any urgent medical attention.

However, if your sexual partner isn't comfortable with it or you feel that it makes your penis unsightly, you can opt for a cosmetic treatment to remove or lighten the dark spots on penis.

Removal Options

The brown spots on penis can be removed through a surgical operation. Here, a surgeon will first remove the layer of the skin that's hyperpigmented. He will then graft and resurface the skin to have the same thickness and appearance as the surrounding skin.

Another option to treat or remove penile melanosis is through laser therapy. In this procedure, the doctor uses Q-switched ruby laser therapy. This form of laser therapy uses synthetic ruby to produce high-intensity short pulses and is mainly used to clear pigment-related skin conditions. However, to completely remove the patches from the penis, you'll need to undergo many sessions of this laser therapy.

It's important to note that these removal procedures often leave behind small scars on your penis. But you don't need to worry because they don't affect your penis' health and normal functioning.

So, before getting into any of these treatment options, first discuss their risks, merits, and demerits with your doctor to ensure you make the right decision.

Can You Prevent the Development of Penile Melanosis?

So, can you prevent the development of penile melanosis? Unfortunately, there's no proven way to prevent penile melanosis.

But once you have developed this condition, you and your doctor should maintain photographic records of the patches' size and shape to track any changes. Although the patches associated with penile melanosis are unlikely to change, any changes over time could signal a cancerous skin condition known as melanoma.

Bottom Line

Although the spots or patches on the penis may affect your self-esteem or trigger stress and anxiety, the good news is that penile melanosis doesn't cause any physical complications.

However, if you or your partner feel that the condition negatively impacts your intimacy, you may seek treatment to remove or lighten the patches.

If you're in Canada looking for a patient-centric healthcare platform to help you deal with penile melanosis, we are ready to help.

This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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