Medical Terminology Explained

One of the many ways we can feel left out of the medical loop is the jargon that leaves us perplexed and, most likely, uninterested in trying to understand our ailment. The doctor either says some fancy words or we end up reading a pamphlet that looks like ancient hieroglyphics. It can be daunting and when we just want relief, we don’t delve any further than the reaching to take a prescription from the doctor.

The time has come for us to decipher some very important medical terminology so we, as patients, can be best informed about our condition and what may lie ahead if we take a certain treatment.


Antiproliferative: of or relating to a substance used to prevent or retard the spread of cells, especially malignant cells, into surrounding tissues.

Atherosclerosis: a disease in which plaque builds up inside your arteries. This can cause different problems including coronary heart disease, carotid artery disease, and chronic kidney disease.

Atrophy: waste away, typically due to the degeneration of cells, or become vestigial during evolution. Picture

Axillae: Armpit

Bioethics: the study of the typically controversial ethical issues emerging from new situations and possibilities brought about by advances in biology and medicine. It is also moral discernment as it relates to medical policy and practice.

Corticosteroids: any of a group of steroid hormones produced in the adrenal cortex or made synthetically. There are two kinds: glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids. They have various metabolic functions and some are used to treat inflammation. The ones we usually deal with are glucocorticoids that stop inflammation.

Candidiasis: infection by fungi of the genus Candida, generally C. albicans, most commonlyinvolving the skin, oral mucosa (thrush), respiratory tract, or vagina; occasionally thereis a systemic infection or endocarditis. It is most often associated with pregnancy,glycosuria, diabetes mellitus, or use of antibiotics. Picture

Concomitant: naturally accompanying or associated.

Cutaneous: of, relating to, or affecting the skin.

Demodicidosis: skin disease of the pilosebaceous units associated with human Demodex mites that involves predominantly the face and head. Picture

Edema: a condition characterized by an excess of watery fluid collecting in the cavities or tissues of the body. Picture

Efficacy: the ability to produce a desired or intended result.

Emollient: a preparation that softens the skin.

Erythema: superficial reddening of the skin, usually in patches, as a result of injury or irritation causing dilatation of the blood capillaries. Picture

Exacerbation: an increase in the severity of a disease or its signs and symptoms; a worsening.

Granuloma Gluteale Infantum: a rare skin disorder of controversial etiology characterized by oval, reddish purple granulomatous nodules on the gluteal surfaces. Picture

Gynecomastia: enlargement of a man’s breasts, usually due to hormone imbalance or hormone therapy. Picture

Hirsutism: abnormal growth of hair on a person’s face and body, especially on a woman. Picture

HPA axis: The hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis is a complex set of direct influences and feedback interactions among three endocrine glands: the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland(a pea-shaped structure located below the hypothalamus), and the adrenal (also called “suprarenal”) glands (small, conical organs on top of the kidneys).

Hyperkeratosis: thickening of the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the epidermis, or skin), often associated with the presence of an abnormal quantity of keratin, and also usually accompanied by an increase in the granular layer. Picture

Hyperpigmentation: the darkening of an area of skin or nails caused by increased melanin.

Hypertrichosifs: a skin abnormality that results in excessive growth of hair. It can be localized to one part of the body, or affect in full. It can affect men or women and is mostly secondary to a genetic disease that causes a hormonal disorder. Picture

Hypopigmentation: the loss of skin color. It is caused by melanocyte or melanin depletion, or a decrease in the amino acid tyrosine, which is used by melanocytes to make melanin. Picture

Iatrogenic: of or relating to illness caused by medical examination or treatment.

Immunosuppressive: (chiefly of drugs) partially or completely suppressing the immune response of an individual. Topically, there is Protopic and Elidel.

Impetigo: a contagious bacterial skin infection forming pustules and yellow, crusty sores. Picture

In vivo: (of a process) performed or taking place in a living organism.

Intertriginous: area where two skin areas may touch or rub together, like armpit or groin

Kaposi Sarcoma: a rare tumor that is named after the dermatologist who first described it in 1872. It is caused by a type of herpesvirus. Picture

Lichen Sclerosis: an uncommon condition that creates patchy, white skin that’s thinner than normal. Picture

Malassezia Folliculitis: an inflammatory skin disorder that typically manifests as a pruritic, follicular papulopustular eruption distributed on the upper trunk of young to middle-aged adults. Picture

Mastocytosis: disorder that can occur in both children and adults. It is caused by the presence of too many mast cells in your body. You can find mast cells in skin, lymph nodes, internal organs (such as the liver and spleen) and the linings of the lung, stomach, and intestine. Picture

Milia: a small white or yellowish nodule resembling a millet seed, produced in the skin by the retention of sebaceous secretion. Picture

Molluscum Contagiosum: a chronic viral disorder of the skin characterized by groups of small, smooth, painless pinkish nodules with a central depression, that yield a milky fluid when squeezed. Picture

Morbidity: is a term used to describe how often a disease occurs in a specific area.

Occlusive: Of or being a bandage or dressing that closes a wound and keeps it from the air.

Ocular Hypertension: an eye pressure of greater than 21 mm Hg. It usually occurs for a long time and doesn’t match with glaucoma.

Perioral Dermatitis: a common skin rash that mainly affects young women. The rash affects the skin around the mouth. Use of a steroid cream on the face seems to trigger the condition in many cases. Picture

Phimosis: a congenital narrowing of the opening of the foreskin so that it cannot be retracted.

Purpura: a rash of purple spots on the skin caused by internal bleeding from small blood vessels. Picture

Stellate Pseudoscars: white, irregular or star-shaped atrophic scars occurring over the sun-exposed areas of the forearms. Picture

Stratum Corneum: the horny outer layer of the skin.

Striae: a linear mark, slight ridge, or groove on a surface, often one of a number of similar parallel features. Picture

Synthetic: made by chemical synthesis, especially to imitate a natural product.

Systemic: of, relating to, or affecting the entire body.

Tachyphylaxis: rapidly diminishing response to successive doses of a drug, rendering it less effective. The effect is common with drugs acting on the nervous system.

Telangiectasia: a condition characterized by dilation of the capillaries, which causes them to appear as small red or purple clusters, often spidery in appearance, on the skin or the surface of an organ. Picture

Tinea Incognito: a fungal infection (mycosis) of the skin masked and often exacerbated by application of a topical immunosuppressive agent. The usual agent is a topical corticosteroid (topical steroid). Picture

Vasoconstriction: the constriction of blood vessels, which increases blood pressure.

Vitiligo: a condition in which the pigment is lost from areas of the skin, causing whitish patches, often with no clear cause. Picture

Author: preventabledoc

Director/Producer of Preventable: Protecting Our Largest Organ and Red Skin Syndrome advocate