Abnormal Skin Lesions

There are two categories of skin lesions that are known in current medicine, primary and secondary skin lesions.

Primary skin lesions include skin conditions that are apparent at birth or are developed over an individual’s life time such as:

  • Birthmarks: flat, discoloured skin that can be found anywhere on the body, covering a small or large portion of the skin.
  • Rash: lesions covering a small or large part of the body that are typically caused by an allergic reaction.
  • Wheals: lesions that have formed due to an allergic reaction. An example of wheals are hives.
  • Blisters: small, clear fluid-filled lesions cause by steam burns, viral infections, sunburns, bites from insects or friction from clothes.
  • Pustule: small, pus-filled lesions, resulting from impetigo, acne or boils
  • Nodule: a solid, raised skin lesion that is typically greater than two centimetres in diameter.
  • Papule: a lesion rough in texture. Papules tend to develop with numerous other papules, creating a patch of papules. A patch of papules is called plaque, which individuals with psoriasis frequently develop.
  • Macule: flat moles and freckles. Macules are usually one centimetre in diameter and can be brown red or white in colour.

Secondary lesions occur when primary skin lesions have been irritated. An example of this is if an individual were to scratch a mole until it bled, a secondary skin lesion, crust, would develop. Secondary lesions include:

  • Scar: Scrapes and cuts leave scars that are not replaced with normal, healthy skin. Rather than returning to a normal skin texture, the injured area forms into a thick, raised scar called a keloid.
  • Ulcer: Usually induced by physical trauma or bacterial infection.
  • Skin atrophy: patches of skin that have become wrinkled and thin due to the over use of topical steroids or antibiotic creams.
  • Crust: a scab created by dried blood that has formed over an irritated and scratched skin lesion.
  • Scale: areas of the skin where skin cells culminate and then drop off of the skin.
  • Infections in or on the skin: an example is warts. Warts are developed due to a virus transmitted by touch.
  • Systemic infection: an infection that occurs throughout the body can cause skin lesions all over the body, such as chicken pox or shingles.
  • Genetic inheritance: Moles or freckles are skin lesions that are hereditary.
  • Allergic reactions: Other skin lesions can form as a result of an allergic reaction.
  • Diabetes: Other skin lesions can form due to conditions such as diabetes.
  • Hereditary: Individuals with family members who have freckles or moles have a greater chance of developing those two types of lesions.
  • Allergy: Individuals with allergies are more prone to developing skin lesions that relate to their allergy
  • Auto-immune disease: Individuals suffering from auto-immune diseases such as psoriasis are continually at risk of developing skin lesions throughout their lifetime.

The diagnostic procedure is carried out by either a dermatologist or doctor, who needs to conduct a full physical exam. The physical exam includes:

  • Observation of the skin lesion
  • Asking the patient to give a full account on any symptoms they are experiencing such as itching or burning
  • The dermatologist or doctor may then perform a biopsy on the affected area or take a swab from the lesion to send off to the lab in order to confirm the diagnosis.

Before prescribing or suggesting a treatment to their patients, the doctor will take into consideration:

  • The type of lesion the individual has
  • Unsuccessful treatment methods previously attempted
  • Health history of the individual
  • Allergies

The treatments available for skin lesions are:

  • Medications: Often topical mediations are used to protect and disinfect the area affected. The topical treatments may also provide mild symptom relief, reducing the sensation of itching, pain or burning caused by the skin lesion. If an individual is suffering from skin lesions as a result of a systemic infection they may be prescribed oral medications. The oral medications help to alleviate the symptoms of the disease as well as the skin lesions sustained from the disease.
  • Surgery:Highly painful or infected skin lesions can be lanced and drained in order to provide the individual relief. Lancing when an incision is made on the skin lesion to drain fluid or release a build-up of pressure such as a puss-filled boil. Moles may need to be surgically removed if they develop to be cancerous. Vascular birthmarks that are a result from malformed blood vessels can also be surgically removed.
  • Home remedies:Some oatmeal lotions or baths may provide relief from symptoms related to certain skin lesions, such as itching or burning. Baby power can reduce moisture and prevent additional skin lesions from developing, especially if chaffing is causing contact dermatitis in areas in which the skin rubs against itself or clothing.