Updated: 12/10/2021

Terminology of Skin Lesions

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  • Overview
    • Terminology Used to Describe Skin Lesions
      TermDescriptionPhoto
      Rash/eruption
      • Describes more widespread skin involvement, which can be composed of several lesions with primary and secondary morphologies
        • e.g.,chicken pox

      Amoxicillin Rash

      Macule
      • Flat lesion < 1 cm in diameter
        • e.g.,freckles
      Macule
      Patch
      • Flat lesion > 1 cm in diameter
        • e.g.,cafe-au-lait spot
      Cafe au lait patch
      Papule
      • Elevated lesion that is < 1 cm in diameter
      • Palpable lesion
        • e.g.,acne
      Papule
      Plaque
      • Elevated lesion that is > 1 cm diameter
      • Palpable
      • PalpablePapules andPlaques
        • e.g.,plaque psoriasis
      Plaque
      Nodule
      • Palpable, solid, and round or ellipsoidal lesion of dermal origin
        • e.g., erythema nodosum
      Nodule
      Vesicle
      • Small fluid containing lesion that is < 0.5 cm
        • e.g.,zoster
      Vesicles of HSV
      Pustule
      • Vesicle containing purulent material
      • May be white or yellow
      • Is not always infected (e.g. sterile pustule)
        • e.g.,pustular psoriasis
      Acneiform pustule
      Wheal
      • Edematous papule or plaque caused by swelling in the dermis
        • e.g.,urticaria
      Urticarial wheal
      Bulla
      • Large fluid containing lesion that is > 0.5 cm
      • Can be multi-loculated
        • e.g.,bullous pemphigoid
      Bulla
      Cyst
      • Closed epithelial-lined cavity or sac containing liquid or semi-solid material
      • Fluctuant as it contains liquid
        • e.g.,epidermal inclusion cyst

        Chalezion cyst

        Purpura
        • Non-palpable purpura
          • petechiae (< 3 mm)
          • ecchymoses (> 5 mm)
        • Palpable purpura
        • Indicates extravasation of red blood cells into the skin
          • e.g.,small vessel vasculitis

        Purpura

        Petechiae
        • Small red, purple, or brown pinpoint dots indicative of hemorrhage
        • Non-blanching
          • e.g.,thrombocytopenia

        Petechiae in ITP

        Ecchymoses
        • Purple or brown lesions covering a larger area
        • Non-blanching
          • e.g.,traumatic bruise

        Lichenification
        • Accentuated skin markings in thick epidermis due to scratching
          • e.g.,atopic dermatitis
        Licheniication
        Keloid
        • Irregular plaque-like lesion resulting from abnormal healing and extends beyond the borders of initial wound
        Ear Keloid
        Hyperkeratosis
        • Increased thickness of stratum corneum seen in chronic dermatitis
          • e.g.,calluses

        Parakeratosis
        • Hyperkeratosis with retention of nuclei in stratum corneum and thinning of stratum granulosum
          • e.g.,classic finding in psoriasis

        Annular
        • Ring shaped lesion
          • e.g.,ringworm infection

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