What Are Skin Lesions?
A skin lesion is a part of the skin that has an abnormal growth or
appearance compared to the skin around it.
Types of Skin Lesions
Two types of skin lesions exist: primary and secondary. Primary skin
lesions are abnormal skin conditions present at birth or acquired over one’s
lifetime. Birthmarks are primary skin lesions. Other types include:
also called vesicles; these are small lesions filled with a clear fluid.
Vesicles can be the result of sunburns, steam burns, insect bites, friction
from shoes or clothes, and viral infections.
freckles and flat moles. Macules are small spots that are typically brown, red,
or white. They are usually about one centimeter in diameter.
a solid, raised skin lesion. Most nodules are more than two centimeters in
a lesion that is rough in texture. Most papules develop with many other
papules. A patch of papules is called a plaque. Plaques are common in people
small lesions filled with pus. They are typically the result of acne, boils, or
lesions that cover small or large areas of skin. They can be caused by an
allergic reaction. A common allergic reaction rash occurs when someone touches
skin lesions caused by an allergic reaction. Hives are an example of wheals.
Secondary skin lesions are the result of irritated or manipulated
primary skin lesions. For example, if someone scratches a mole until it bleeds,
the resulting lesion, a crust, is now a secondary skin lesion.
The most common secondary skin lesions include:
a crust, or a scab, is created when dried blood forms over a scratched and
irritated skin lesion.
typically caused by a bacterial infection or physical trauma.
patches of skin cells that build up and then fall off the skin.
some scratches, cuts, and scrapes will leave scars that are not replaced with
healthy, normal skin. Instead, the skin returns as a thick, raised scar. This
scar is called a keloid.
atrophy: areas of your skin that become thin and wrinkled from over use of
topical steroids or antibiotic creams.
What Causes Skin Lesions?
The most common cause of a skin lesion is an infection on or in the
skin. One example is a wart. Warts are caused by a virus that is transmitted by
touch. A systemic infection (an infection that occurs throughout your body), such
as chicken pox or shingles can cause skin lesions all over your body. Some skin
lesions are hereditary, such as moles and freckles. Birthmarks are lesions that
exist at the time of birth. Still others can be the result of an allergic
reaction or sensitivity caused by conditions like poor circulation or diabetes.
Who Is At Risk for Skin Lesions?
Some skin lesions are hereditary.
People with family members who have moles or freckles are more likely to
develop those two lesions. People with allergies may also be more likely to
develop skin lesions related to their allergy. People diagnosed with an
auto-immune disease such as psoriasis will continue to be at risk for skin
lesions throughout their lives.
Diagnosing Skin Lesions
In order to diagnose a skin lesion, a dermatologist or doctor will want
to conduct a full physical exam. This will include observing the skin lesion
and asking for a full account of all symptoms. To confirm a diagnosis, they
make take skin samples, perform a biopsy of the affected area, or take a swab
from the lesion to send to a lab.
Treating Skin Lesions
Treatment is based on the underlying cause or causes for skin lesions. A
doctor will take into account the type of lesion, personal health history, and
any unsuccessful treatments previously attempted.
First-line treatments are often topical medications to help clean,
disinfect, and protect the affected area. Topical medication can also provide
mild symptom relief to stop pain, itching, or burning caused by the skin
lesion. When skin lesions are the result of a systemic infection, such as
shingles or chicken pox, patients may be prescribed oral medications to help
ease the symptoms of the disease, including skin lesions.
Skin lesions that are infected or extremely painful can be lanced and
drained to provide relief. Moles that have become cancerous may need to be
removed surgically. A type of birthmark called vascular birthmarks result from malformed
blood vessels. Surgery can remove this type of birthmark, too.
Some skin lesions are very itchy and uncomfortable and patients may use
home remedies. Some oatmeal baths or lotions can provide relief from itching or
burning caused by certain skin lesions. If chaffing is causing contact
dermatitis in places where the skin rubs against itself or a piece of clothing,
absorbent powders or baby powder can reduce moisture and prevent additional
skin lesions from developing.