Skin Lesions: Causes, Types and Treatment Options

Causes and Types of Skin Lesions

by Saima
Skin Lesions: Causes, Types and Treatment Options

What is a Skin Lesion?

“Skin lesion refers to any visible abnormality in color, texture, or shape of the skin that appears in the form of bumps, rashes, or patches.”

What do Skin Lesions Look Like?

Skin lesions usually appear in the form of sores, lumps, or rashes on different areas of the skin. They may have different sizes, and shapes, localized (benign) or widespread (malignant).

Benign Skin Lesions

Benign skin lesions are harmless or non-cancerous abnormalities of skin tissues. They carry a uniform symmetry with slow growth.

Generally, these lesions do not need any intense treatment unless a non-bearable condition occurs.

Malignant Skin Lesions

When skin lesions evolve into highly detrimental forms, they are known as malignant lesions.

They tend to develop skin cancer. Their severity varies from person to person and region to region.

Moreover, sometimes it becomes difficult to distinguish between benign and malignant lesions. For this, you have to perform a biopsy of the affected area.

What Causes Skin Lesions?

The formation of these lesions may be due to some environmental factors or localized skin damage for example sunburn, acne, pimples, or any other general issue.

However, some lesions indicate an underlying health problem such as certain infections, genetic issues, autoimmune disorders, and diabetes.

Certain lesions are hereditary like birthmarks and moles while others develop later in life due to some other reasons. These infections may be due to viruses, bacteria, or fungus attacks.

  • The virus-causing skin lesions include human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), herpes simplex, and human papillomavirus (HPV).
  • Bacteria causing skin lesions include Streptococcus or Staphylococcus
  • Fungi causing skin lesions include Candida albicans
  • Allergic reactions to certain environmental factors and medicines
  • Side effects of certain medicines like corticosteroids and chemotherapy

Types of Skin Lesions

Basically, skin lesions can be divided into 2 main categories; Primary skin lesions and secondary skin lesions.

  • Primary Skin Lesions

These primarily originate on a healthy skin type due to some particular reasons. These reasons may be environmental or health-related.

Examples include moles, freckles, pimples, and blisters.

  • Secondary Skin Lesions

These lesions evolve due to doing rubbing or hard scratching on areas of primary lesions. For example, scratching a pimple or mole till it bleeds, results in the formation of secondary lesions.

You can say that secondary skin lesions form due to the progression of primary lesions towards severity.

Examples include ulcers, sores, or severe scars.

Detailed Description of Skin Lesion Types with Pictures

1.      Acne

Initially, acne appears in the form of blackheads, whiteheads, or pimples that are nontoxic and a little annoying.

The main reason for acne is clogged pores in the skin due to sebum accumulation. This clogging of skin pores results in bacterial growth hence, skin lesions in the form of acne develop.

You can use antibiotic creams or medicines by consulting with your dermatologist as untreated acne may cause scars or dark skin tone.

2.      Blisters

A bubble-like appearance on the injured skin area is called a blister. Generally, watery fluid discharges from these blisters. The most common causes of blisters are skin infection, burns, and allergies.

Skin Lesions (Acne and Blisters)

In case of mild blisters, you need to wait for them to cure by themselves. In case of severe untreated infection, you have to consult with your dermatologist.

3.      Cold Sores

Cold sores mostly appear near the mouth or lip area due to the herpes simplex virus.Skin Lesions (Cold Sores)

These are aching fluid-filled and contagious infections. Generally, they disappear in a few days without needing any treatment.

However, if you feel an irritating sensation or unbearable pain, then visit your doctor.

4.      Eczema

Eczema is not contagious and it appears in the form of itchy inflamed skin with red patches. It can be initiated at any age like childhood, adulthood, or upper age.

“According to the National Eczema Association, more than 31 million Americans suffer from some form of eczema.”

The exact reason for developing eczema is still not known but researches indicate that genetic or environmental factors, as well as stress, can trigger the symptoms and likelihood of this disorder.

There is no exact cure for eczema but you can decrease the severity of the disease by adopting these tips:

  1. Know the triggering agent of your eczema
  2. Adopt a good cleanliness routine
  3. Always use prescribed medicine and beauty products by your dermatologist

5.      Psoriasis

It causes the skin to develop silvery scale-like sharp skin patches. Its common cause is an autoimmune disorder in which your immune system starts to destroy the healthy cells of your body.  Mostly, it is located in the regions of the elbow, knee, lower limbs, and back.

No permanent treatment is still known for psoriasis however, you can reduce the symptoms and irritation of psoriasis by:

    • Take a good cleanliness routine like bathing regularly, and cleaning the affected area.
    • Using a dermatological tested and prescribed moisturizer, ointments, and medicated creams
    • Expose to little sunlight daily
    • Avoid psoriasis triggering factors

Eczema and Psoriasis

6.      Hives

Hives cause a red, itchy, swollen rash-like appearance on the skin due to certain allergic reactions. Certain foods, medicines, insect bites, or come diseases are triggering factors for hives.

You must go seek medical emergency service in case of severe breathing issues, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, or nausea after contact with an allergen.

7.      Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis causes the skin to become red and itchy. It may cause blisters or hives on severe infection. This type of skin infection appears by contacting any allergen. It has 2 main types:

Irritant Contact Dermatitis results due to repeated exposure to specific allergens or irritating substances like chemical dyes, fabric softeners, certain detergents, or weed killers.

Allergic Contact Dermatitis occurs when your immune system reacts to a specific allergen type. Some possible allergens may be:

  • Certain species of plants for example poison oak, poison ivy, and sumac.
  • Chemicals in certain beauty products
  • Chemicals in hair dyes
  • Detergents and fabric softeners
  • Certain metals like nickel and cobalt

8.      Ringworm

Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection in the form of a circular rash surrounded by itchy red skin. It is caused by a fungus (dermatophytes) that feeds on your skin keratin. These dermatophytes attack your skin, hair, scalp, nails, or any region that contains enough keratin.

The treatment of ringworms requires at least 1-3 months. However, antifungal medicines, OTC creams, and certain medicated powders reduce the itching and treat the infection. The most common forms of ringworms are athlete’s foot and jock itch.

Ringworms and Chickenpox

9.      Chickenpox

Chickenpox is a contagious skin disease that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It causes fluid-filled blister formation along with an itchy rash and red skin. Initially, it develops on the face, chest, and back and then finally on the entire body area.

Chickenpox transmits through the saliva, mucus, or direct contact with blisters of the infected person.

Generally, it accompanies fever, aches, and sore throat. Once it starts to develop chickenpox on your body, you have to wait for all the blisters to cure with time.

10.   Epidermoid cysts

These are large cysts present near the neck or face region. These form when the epidermal cells of the skin go below the skin surface and wrap themselves with a thick covering called a cyst.

Their cell division occurs continuously like normal skin cells but their shedding process slows down or stops.

Epidermoid cysts are non-cancerous and may cause pain and pressure. The cysts are filled with keratin protein.

11.   Cellulitis

Cellulitis is one of the most common forms of skin lesions and requires quick medical treatment. It leaves the skin swollen and painful with a quick spread. It may result due to bacterial or fungal infection. If you feel recurrent fever, infections, or chill then it’s a good time to see a doctor as early as possible.

Epidermoid cysts and cellulitis

12.   Moles

Moles are the most common type of skin lesions that are darker than surrounding skin areas. These may be oblong or circular in shape and can be of any of the following 3 types:

  • Congenital moles can be present in any area of the skin. Mostly, these are present since birth time.
  • Common moles appear in adulthood. Mostly, they are present on the above waist or sun-exposed areas.
  • Atypical moles are generally larger than a quarter-inch and can be a warning sign of melanoma (skin cancer). They do not have any specific shape. People with atypical moles on the skin should quickly consult a dermatologist.

Skin Lesions from Diabetes

The most common types of skin lesions from diabetes are:

  • Diabetic Dermopathy

It usually appears as round or oval scaly brown patches. Mostly, they occur on the front sides of the legs and don’t require any quick medical attention.

  • Diabetic Blisters

It is a rare condition in which a diabetic develops blisters on his body. They may appear on any body area especially hands, fingers, legs, feet, or toes. Usually, they are painless and heal naturally.

  • Eruptive Xanthomatosis

Uncontrolled diabetes causes this problem in which skin develops yellow-colored, firm enlargements. This may occur in type 1 diabetes patients. However, you can cure this problem by controlling the high diabetes level.

Are Skin Lesions Contagious?

Skin lesions may be contagious or non-contagious depending upon their type.

Chickenpox, cold sores, and ringworms are contagious skin lesions.

Eczema, cellulitis, and psoriasis are non-contagious skin lesions i.e they can’t spread from person to person by direct contact.

When to See a Doctor?

Any new mole of suspicious appearance and changes in a previously found mole may be a warning sign of skin infection. You should consult your dermatologist if OTC treatment options do not work.

However, it’s better to seek medical advice before taking any OTC treatment or doing self-medication.

Your dermatologist decides to choose treatment of skin lesions based on your family history, health condition, or age. Oral medication, OTC creams and lotions, and even surgery may be adopted to treat skin lesions.

Concluding Remarks

Skin lesions can be of different forms and types. Some of these skin lesions are non-contagious like Eczema, cellulitis, and psoriasis while others are contagious such as chickenpox, cold sores, and ringworms.

Some skin lesions heal naturally but others need proper medical treatment and follow-up.  Always seek medical advice from your dermatologist instead of doing self-medication as it can trigger the disease.

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