Your 4 Most Embarrassing Body Problems
What’s up with those bumps…down there? Doctors reveal the most common body mysteries getting under many guys’ skin—and ways to fix them.
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Every active guy out there has had a bad bout of bacne. You know what it is. You deal. But what happens when you come up against a skin problem you can't explain? You're definitely not discussing it with your bros at the bar. That's why MF talked to dermatologists to uncover four common manly-man skin challenges that bring guys into their office, sheepishly seeking treatment. Read on to find out how to fix 'em—and know that you're not alone.
PROBLEM #1: Bumps on A Log
That’s one cringe-worthy way of describing pearly penile papules, which are harmless bumps encircling the penis rim in one—or multiple—rows. Manhattan-based dermatologist Ahmet Altiner often ends up explaining them not only to his male patients, but also to the guy’s sex partner, who usually suspects the worst (read: S.T.D.). And though PPP’s (technically: hirsuties papillaris genitalis) somewhat resemble genital warts, they’re typically smaller, more uniform, and don’t enlarge over time, says Dr. Altiner. Adds Malinee Saxena, M.D., an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Minnesota: “Warts also tend to spread beyond the tip of the penis, past where normal PPP’s reside.”
FIX IT: Absolutely get any bumps down below examined asap, but if they check out to be PPP’s, don’t sweat it. While they don’t go away on their own, they’re common in uncircumsized twenty-somethings, and they’re not contagious or medically dangerous. Still, some derms, like Dr. Altiner, have begun to remove them with light electrodessication. Just keep in mind that the process might be painful and require some recovery time, not to mention a decent wad of cash (about $1000 for the two required treatments).
PROBLEM #2: Gym Hands
Have you been noticing blisters or some itchiness on your skin after a sweat session? Regular gym-goers may have an allergic reaction to the rubber that is present on a lot of the equipment, says Dr. Altiner, and this reaction is known as eczema—or allergic contact dermatitis. “It can make the skin on the hands look very rough, red and scaly,” he adds. (While the reaction may possibly spread up the arm, it is rare for this to happen.)
FIX IT: If you notice such a rash surfacing on your hands during or soon after a workout, consult your physician or dermatologist, who may order a patch test to identify what’s causing the reaction. The test ($1,000 to $3,000; often covered by insurance) typically requires three return visits to the derm within the week. Your doc might also provide a steroid cream to quickly calm the rash, says Dr. Saxena, who also recommends using only gentle soaps for hand-washing and wearing workout gloves at the gym. Additionally, she suggests manning down and applying moisturizer (such as Neutrogena unscented) with every hand wash.
PROBLEM #3: Angry Face
One 32-year-old fella landed at Dr. Altiner’s office after he grew fed up with friends repeatedly telling him to scratch the perma-scowl—the one he wasn’t intending. Fearing this first impression would not bode well for the job interviews he had lined up, he sought cosmetic treatment to get rid of facial lines hindering his friendly-guy image. “Men have strong glabella-region muscles, which are those smack-dab between the eyebrows” says Dr. Altiner, who has treated men ages 29 to 49 for this. “Even the most lighthearted guys may eventually end up with this forever-frowning or angry look.” The culprit is usually a deep between-eyes crease, but can also involve overactive corrugator (frown) muscles around the mouth.
FIX IT: You could get Botox injections ($300-$400 per injection; 3-4 times a year) to relax muscles around the eyes and on the forehead, says Dr. Saxena, or fillers like hyaluronic acid ($300-$400; 1-2 times a year) to fill lines, folds and wrinkles surrounding the mouth. But Dr. Saxena also recommends some good old skin care to help improve fine lines and skin texture; namely, daily year-round sunscreen and possibly the prescription tretinoin (branded as Avita, Renova, Retin-A, Tretin-X or other), which is a topical form of vitamin A that helps the skin renew itself.
PROBLEM #4: Stretch-Marks-For-Men
Sorry, dudes. Men are not exempt from these body blemishes. And you’ve likely spotted these suckers at the gym—and not known what the heck they are. When some guys gung-ho a new lifting regimen and gain massive upper-body muscle strength too quickly, it can result in stretch marks on the chest and shoulders, says Dr. Saxena, which often look like purplish-red bands, lines or streaks that—over time—start to have a scar-like appearance. (Conversely, massive weight gain can also cause stretch marks.)
FIX IT: Relax. Most people have a few stretch marks, and they're probably less noticeable to everyone else than they are to you. But if they're really bugging you, skip the creams and ointments that claim to prevent stretch marks (they usually offer lackluster results, says Dr. Altiner) and get to the derm instead. These may fade over time, but they won’t disappear on their own. At Dr. Altiner’s practice, fraxel or vascular laser treatments cost between $750 and $1,000. Expect to have two to three fraxel treatments, or one to two vascular laser treatments, all spaced one month apart. Also know that full benefits may take up to three months post-final treatment to appear, he says, adding, “the area may actually look worse in the weeks following treatment, before it looks better.”