Penile melanosis is a benign condition that features dark black or brown spots on the penis, specifically on the glans or the penile shaft.
Although this is a benign condition, some men may opt for the removal of these lesions from their private area for cosmetic reasons
So, if you have found what appear to be tiny moles or black spots on your genitals, keep reading to learn more about this condition.
Signs of penile melanosis
Here are some of the main distinguishing features of penile melanosis spots:
- They are brown or black.
- Their size is small, often below 1 centimeter
- You may have a single lesion or many spots
- They do not grow in size or change in any way
- They do not cause any bleeding
- The spots can appear anytime between 15 and 70 years of age
Penile melanosis vs melanoma
Melanosis should not be confused with melanoma. The names are similar, but the diseases are not.
Melanosis is a benign lesion with completely normal skin cells. Melanoma is a type of cancer involving cellular changes and DNA damage.
The table below compares penile melanosis vs melanoma and skin cancer.
|Penile melanosis||Skin cancer (melanoma)|
|Uniform black or brown colored spots||Different color shades or constantly changing colors|
|Small size remains unchanged||Keeps increasing in size, lesions over 1 centimeter|
|Symmetric borders||Asymmetrical borders|
|It doesn’t have a raised lesion||Lesions may develop in raised areas|
|Does not cause additional skin symptoms||Lesions may itch or bleed spontaneously|
Causes and risk factors for penile melanosis
The skin has different cell types, and one of them gives the skin its color. These are melanocytes, which contain a pigment called melanin. The more melanocytes the skin has, the darker it turns.
Penile melanosis is an accumulation of melanocytes in the skin of the penis. These cells clump together in a single space and cause melanosis spots, which are dark brown or black dots.
It is unknown why melanocytes accumulate this way, and the exact causes of penile melanosis are unknown.
However, there are three main risk factors for getting these dark black spots on the glans:
- Genetics: Penile melanosis is in the offspring line. It can be a common condition in your family with genetic patterns inherited from parent to child.
- Trauma: Some patients with trauma to the penis may develop penile melanosis. Such trauma often involves skin abrasions and other skin lesions.
- Skin treatments: It may increase your risk of penile melanosis if you receive psoriasis treatment. More specifically, ultraviolet light therapy and medical treatments such as anthralin or psoralen.
Getting rid of the black or brown spots on your penis
Penile melanosis treatment is unnecessary if you’re not concerned with the lesions. However, you may choose to remove the lesions for cosmetic reasons.
The treatment to remove the lesions is through the scalpel. Removal surgery consists of removing the lesion after applying anesthetics.
You can complete the procedure as an outpatient in most cases. However, it all depends on the thickness and extension of the lesions.
Sometimes, it will be necessary to leave a skin graft in place. At other times, it will be sufficient to remove the lesion and close the wound.
Removing the dark spots on the glans can also involve laser therapy. More specifically, Q-switched ruby laser.
This technology uses synthetic ruby to produce short laser pulses that burn the lesions and remove them immediately.
Whatever the removal process, there will always be a small scar. Therefore, it is normal for you to require some time of rest without sexual activity after treatment.
Are there any possible complications?
The reason why some patients decide to remove penile melanosis lesions is purely aesthetic. The only complication is psychological, such as anxiety or insecurity about the appearance of the penis.
Can you prevent penile melanosis?
Penile melanosis is an unpredictable condition. The only way to know if you have an increased risk is whether the condition appears in many family members. Even then, you might not get the lesions.
If you are at increased risk, there’s no method to decrease the odds of a lesion. But once you have them, there is also secondary prevention.
We recommend that you keep records of any changes in the black spots on your penis.
Inform your doctor if you notice them changing in shape or size or if they begin to give you other symptoms.
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No, penile melanosis is nothing to worry about. It is prevalent in men, and the lesions do not usually progress to cancer.
According to a study of 10,000 men, the incidence of penile melanosis is around 14%. Other studies report a lower incidence.
It is a common condition, although most men do not inform their physicians.
The lesions look like moles-like spots, also known as macules.
No. These lesions do not usually progress to cancer or any other disease. They are simply color changes in the skin.
No. Penile melanosis is not an infectious disease. It is not transmitted and doesn’t cause other adverse reactions.
Penile melanosis does not go away without treatment. The lesions are similar to the moles you may get on your face.
Like these spots, melanosis does not disappear. It may turn a lighter color, but it does not disappear completely.
Penile melanosis is a benign skin condition of the penis. It consists of small, rounded, single, or multiple dark brown or black lesions.
These lesions usually do not progress to cancer and have no complications. However, it is possible to remove them surgically or with laser therapy for aesthetic purposes.