A skin lesion is a general term that denotes you either have some sort of growth on your skin surface or an area of your skin that looks and feels different from its surrounding skin. Skin lesions can vary widely as to color and texture.
A skin lesion may be with you all your life, as is the case of moles or birthmarks. Or a lesion can develop anytime, sometimes without cause. Yet, many skin lesions are associated with other health conditions, such as:
- infectious disease ~ warts, acne, psoriasis
- allergic reactions ~ hives, contact dermatitis
- environmental ~ sunburn, pressure, temperature extremes
Some of the primary types of skin lesions are:
- atrophy ~ thin & wrinkled skin, notable causes aging & topical corticosteroid
- crust ~ dried blood, serum or pus, aka scab, normal part of healing many infectious lesions
- macule ~ small, flat, circular spot that’s usually brown, white or red, i.e. freckles & flat moles
- lichenification ~ rough, thickened, leathery, hyperpigmention of skin, associated with dermatitis
- pustule ~ raised pus filled lesion, typically caused by an infection resulting in acne, impetigo, boils
- telangiectasia ~ small, dilated blood vessels close to skin surface, symptom of rosacea & scleroderma
- scale ~ dry, dead skin that flakes off, caused by fungal skin infections, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis
- scar ~ discolored, fibrous tissue that builds up after destruction of skin top layer, keloids are raised scars
- ulcer ~ loss of skin lesion, caused by bacterial skin infection, trauma, scleroderma, peripheral vascular disorders
- papule ~ solid, raised lesion, i.e. warts, due to syphilis,psoriasis, seborrheic & actinic keratoses, lichen planus, skin cancer
- wheal ~ skin elevation caused by itchy swelling that disappears quickly, generally an allergic reaction to drugs or insect bite
- nodule ~ solid lesion having distinct edges, deeper than papule, associated with keratin cysts, lipomas, fibromas, sebaceous cyst, some lymphomas
- vesicle ~ raised lesion filled with clear fluid, aka blisters, caused by sunburns, insect bites, chemical irritation, viral infections (herpes), friction
Lesions on your skin can be caused by a wide variety of health conditions and diseases. Skin infected by bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites are a prevalent cause for lesions on your skin. Examples of skin infections that cause lesions are:
Allergic reactions or sensitivity to something in your environment may be a cause for lesions. Or poor circulation due to diabetes may result in skin ulcer formation. Cancer can invade your skin, creating lesions. An allergic reaction to heparin, a common blood thinner, can cause skin lesions.
The tendency to develop moles, freckles or birthmarks is likely inherited.
Treatment of skin lesions caused infections or disorders depends on the type. Many topical ointments, creams, lotions and solutions are available to treat skin lesions caused by an infection. A self treatment conundrum is which type of pathogen is causing your skin invasion.
If your skin lesion is accompanied by inflammation and itching, then some OTC relief of these symptoms are:
- oatmeal bath
- calamine lotion
- topical cortisone
Applying a topical antibiotic is helpful treatment of a minor bacterial infected skin lesion. But MRSA is a cause for concern. So visit your health care provider ASAP if your pustule or ulcerated skin lesion grows worse.
And scratching or picking at your lesion can spread an infection or cause scarring, so leave it alone.