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What Are "Other" 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 (macules). Some primary skin lesions include:

  • Blisters: Also called vesicles, which 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.

  • Macule: Freckles and flat moles. Macules are small spots that are typically brown, red, or white. They are usually about one centimeter in diameter. 

  • Nodule: A solid, raised skin lesion. Most nodules are more than two centimeters in diameter. 

  • Papule: A lesion that is rough in texture. A papule usually develops into a patch of multiple papules, which is called a plaque. Plaques are common in people with psoriasis. Keratosis Pilaris is another examples of a papule or plaques. When a protein called keratin plugs up your hair follicles, you can get small pointed pimples on your skin, also known as folliculitis. These sandpaper-like bumps usually form on upper arms, buttocks, and thighs. They’re white or red and don’t hurt, but may itch. This condition often goes away as you get older.]

  • Pustule: Small lesions filled with pus. They are typically the result of acne, boils, impetigo or insect bites.

  • Rash: Lesions that cover small or large areas of skin. They can be caused by an allergic reaction or skin irritation. A common allergic reaction rash occurs when someone touches poison ivy.

  • Wheals: 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 is now a secondary skin lesion. The most common secondary skin lesions include:

  • Crust: Also called a scab. It’s created when dried blood forms over a scratched and irritated skin lesion.

  • Ulcer: A scab or wound that is weeping fluid, typically caused by a bacterial infection or physical trauma.

  • Scale: Patches of skin cells that build up and then fall off the skin. 

  • Scar: 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 with a ropey texture. This scar is called a keloid.

What causes skin lesions?

The most common cause of a skin lesion is an infection or virus on or under the skin. One example is a wart. Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), and are transmitted by touch, but different strains affect only certain body parts. 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, freckles, or keratosis pilaris. Birthmarks are lesions that exist at the time of birth (congenital). 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?

Since some skin lesions are hereditary, as with moles or freckles, people with family members who have these lesions are more likely to develop them. 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.

How are skin lesions diagnosed?

In order to diagnose a skin lesion, Dr. Gillaspie 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, she will examine the areas under the Dermatoscope. If there are any suspicions whatsoever, especially with moles, she will take a picture of it with a dermatoscopic camera and observe it’s appearance over a period of four months. If changes are evident, you may be referred to a dermatologist for a biopsy.

How are skin lesions treated?

Treatment is based on the underlying cause of your particular skin lesion(s). Dr. Gillaspie will take into account the type of lesion, personal health history, and any unsuccessful treatments previously attempted.

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