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  5. Common Skin Lesions: Types, Causes, Symptoms & Treatments

Have you noticed abnormal changes in any area of your skin compared to its surrounding skin tissue? It's nothing but a skin lesion. Though most skin lesions are harmless, some types can be signs of serious conditions.

In this article, we will take you through the different types of skin lesions, how you can treat them, when a skin lesion becomes harmful, and how you can remove them.

Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks

“Commonly, skin lesions are the manifestations of localized damage in the skin caused by factors such as contact dermatitis or sunburns. However, they can also be the result of underlying infections, autoimmune disorders, or genetic disorders such as diabetes.’’

-Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix

What Are Skin Lesions?

Any skin area which has different characteristics compared to the surrounding skin in terms of texture, size, color, and shape can be referred to as a skin lesion.

“Commonly, skin lesions are the manifestations of localized damage in the skin caused by factors such as contact dermatitis or sunburns. However, they can also be the result of underlying infections, autoimmune disorders, or genetic disorders such as diabetes,” says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.

Rarely, some of the skin lesions can become premalignant [1] or malignant, which are potentially risky.

What Does A Lesion Look Like On The Skin?

Skin lesions can appear in a variety of forms, shapes, and sizes on any part of your body. Also, skin lesions can occur as singular or multiple, isolated in a specific area or widely distributed throughout the body.

Types Of Skin Lesions

Primarily, skin lesions can be divided into the following two types:

1. Primary Skin Lesions

These skin lesions are either present from your birth or occur during your lifetime. Birthmarks, moles, acne, blisters, macules, nodules, papules, pustules, rashes, wheals, etc. are some of the primary skin lesions.

2. Secondary Skin Lesions

These skin lesions develop from your primary skin lesions when they are scratched, disturbed, irritated, or undergo changes over time. Scales, scars, crusts, skin atrophy, ulcers, erosion, fissure, phyma, umbilication, etc. are some of the secondary skin lesions.

What Diseases/Conditions Cause Lesions On The Skin?

Among several conditions which can cause different types of skin lesions, we have listed out the most common diseases/conditions below:

1. Cold Sores

Girl lips showing herpes blisters

Cold sores [2] are painful, red, fluid-filled blisters that occur near the lips. Herpes virus is responsible for causing cold sores. In general, cold sores appear in clusters or alone. These skin lesions ooze clear yellow fluid before the formation of crust. Often, cold sores recur due to sun exposure, menstruation, illness, or any other form of stress.

2. Acne

Acne skin under magnifying glass

Acne breakouts mostly appear on the face, neck, chest, upper back, and shoulders. Whiteheads, blackheads, pustules, papules, painful cysts, and nodules are different types of acne that result in skin lesions. Generally, acne heals itself within 1-2 weeks. However, some types of acne may leave your skin with dark scars if not treated on time.

3. Warts

Wart on the hand finger

Warts are caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) and appear as rough, hard bumps on the skin or mucous membranes in the body. It can also appear as a single lesion or in the cluster. Besides, it is also contagious.

4. Keloids

keloid scar on the shoulder of young woman

A keloid is an itchy and painful lump or rigid area on your skin. A keloid [3] appears as a red, pink, or flesh-colored lump and mostly appears at the site of past skin injuries.

5. Hives

Skin Allergy Symptoms of patient

Hives occur when your skin is exposed to allergens. They appear as raised, red, itchy welts that are painful and warm to touch. Hives can be of any size and shape.

6. Rash

woman scratching upper back

A rash on your skin appears as a noticeable color or texture change. Different factors such as allergic reactions, fungal infections, infectious disease, autoimmune disease, bacterial skin infection, medication side effects, insect bites, etc. can result in skin rashes.

Often, rashes are treated at home unless it is associated with other symptoms such as dizziness, difficulty breathing, fever, vomiting, or severe pain.

7. Blisters

red blisters are caused by hot water

Blisters can occur as a singular lesion or in groups, anywhere on the body. It appears as a watery, fluid-filled area in the skin color. Mostly, blisters are larger or smaller than 1 cm.

8. Bullae

Skin blister

A bullae is a clear fluid-filled blister that has a size greater than 1 cm. Bullae [4] are usually caused due to contact dermatitis, friction, or other skin disorders. If you notice the fluid in bullae turning milky, then it is a sign of infection.

9. Boils

Pimple Extreme Macro with growing hairs

Boils are caused by a fungal or bacterial infection in the oil glands or hair follicles in the skin. Though boils can occur anywhere on the body, the most common areas are the face, armpit, neck, and buttock. It appears as a painful, red bump that has a white or yellow center. Sometimes, a boil can rupture and ooze out fluid.

10. Scabies

scabies at the foot of a teenage boy

Scabies is an extremely itchy skin condition that appears as a cluster of tiny, scaly blisters. You can also notice flesh-toned or white lines and these symptoms may appear in 4-6 weeks. People who have scabies have a risk of developing impetigo.

11. Cellulitis

woman suffering with mild cellulitis in her legs

Cellulitis is caused by fungi or bacteria infecting your skin through a cut or crack. Cellulitis appears as red, warm, painful, and swollen skin that spreads rapidly. Some cellulitis can also ooze fluid and are tender to touch.

If someone experiences chills, fever, and red streaking from the cellulitis rash, then it might be a sign of severe infection that needs medical help immediately.

12. MRSA (Staph) Infection

Staph Skin infection

Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an infection caused by a certain type of staphylococcus (staph) bacteria that is resistant to different antibiotics. It often appears as a painful, pus-oozing, red pimple that looks like a spider bite.

MRSA [5] needs to be treated with powerful antibiotics to avoid more harmful conditions such as blood infection or cellulitis.

13. Epidermoid Cysts

Submental Sebaceous Cyst

Epidermoid cysts are noncancerous and generally occur on the face, neck, or torso. They are filled with keratin and grow slowly while inducing pressure along with pain. Often, epidermoid cysts are mistaken for sebaceous cysts.

14. Shingles

Shingles sores

Shingles [6] are a red, itchy, burning, and painful rash that most commonly occurs on the torso. However, it can also occur on other body parts. It appears as clusters of fluid-filled blisters in a linear stripe pattern. These blisters may break open easily and ooze out fluid.

Sometimes, shingles might be accompanied by chills, fever, fatigue, or headache.

15. Chicken Pox

Young Child with Chickenpox

It is a viral infection that appears as clusters of red, fluid-filled, and itchy blisters throughout the body. It is accompanied by fever, headache, sore throat, body aches, and loss of appetite. Until all the blisters crust over in the infected person's skin, chickenpox can be contagious.

16. Psoriasis

Man withvulgar psoriasis and eczema

Psoriasis is an itchy skin lesion that mostly occurs on the scalp, knees, elbows, and lower back. It appears as scaly silver patches. Some types of psoriasis patches can be asymptomatic.

17. Contact Dermatitis

 inflamation of skin around umbilicus due to contact with metal buckle

It is a scaly, itchy, red rash that can occur within hours to days of your skin getting in contact with an allergen. Contact dermatitis has visible borders and results in fluid oozing blisters that laters turns crusty.

18. Impetigo

A case of streptococcal impetigo in a male

It is a honey-colored crust that results from an irritating rash and fluid-oozing blisters. Impetigo [7] is mostly seen around the mouth, nose, and chin. Most commonly, infants and children are affected by impetigo.

19. Eczema

man with eczema on hand

Eczema appears as a red, scaly, itchy skin lesion and often occurs on the hands or forearms. Eczema patches mostly resemble burns and may also result in fluid-oozing blisters or crusts.

20. Actinic Keratosis

Hypertrophic lesions of actinic keratosis on sun-damaged skin

Actinic keratosis [8] most likely appears on the parts of the body like the face, hands, arms, neck, and scalp, which are highly exposed to the sun. It is a scaly, crusty, thick, and pink skin patch that is typically less than two centimeters in size. Some patches may also appear in brown or grey colors.

Other Symptoms Of Skin Lesions

Often, skin lesions occur as a result of microbial infections or when your immune system triggers a reaction to fight allergens, which may accompany the following symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Redness, swelling or warmth
  • Joint pain or stiffness
  • Headache
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Fever with chills
  • Itchiness
  • Nausea
  • Sores filled with pus

Some of the life-threatening symptoms associated with skin lesions include:

  • Sudden swelling of lips, tongue or other areas of the face
  • Rapid spread of rash in association with coughing and fever
  • Dizziness, confusion, or decreased alertness
  • High fever (>101 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Rash occurring after taking a new medication
  • Breathing problems such as shortness of breath, the inability or difficulty breathing, wheezing, choking, etc.

How To Remove Skin Lesions?

Depending on the underlying cause of your skin lesions and health history, medical professionals will guide you with the right treatments.

The common treatments for skin lesions include the following:

1. Home Remedies

Though treating skin lesions at home may not cure them completely, you can try them to get relief from the mild symptoms.

A. Cold Compress

Stuff a fabric bag with 3-4 ice cubes and apply it to the affected area for a few minutes. This helps to instantly ease the itch, swelling, and pain from the skin lesions.

Researchers from the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Southern California, have demonstrated that cooling or mentholated liniment application on the skin has been effective in treating acute and chronic itch in the skin.

B. Oatmeal Bath

Add a cup of colloidal oatmeal to your bathtub filled with warm water. Immerse yourself and stay in the tub for half an hour. Later, take a shower with lukewarm water. If you do not have a bathtub, just apply the water soaked oatmeal to the affected area and rinse it off later.

For centuries, oats have been used as a cure for several skin lesions, be it burns or eczema. A couple of oatmeal baths help to relieve the itchiness from the skin lesions easily.

Studies have shown that the Avenanthramides present in oats control skin inflammation effectively.

C. Aloe Vera

Extract the clear aloe gel from the leaves and apply it directly to the affected areas. Leave it for 20 minutes before rinsing it off.

Aloe vera has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties that help to heal most skin lesions naturally.

Studies found that the sterols, enzymes and carbohydrates present in aloe vera contribute to the anti-inflammatory properties of aloe vera.

D. Coconut Oil

Apply a little amount of virgin coconut oil to the inflamed and itchy skin lesions.

Coconut oil acts as a natural antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agent that relieves you from symptoms while nourishing your skin at the same time.

In a clinical trial conducted by the Department of Dermatology, Makati Medical Center, it is found that coconut oil is effective in improving skin hydration and its surface lipid levels.

E. Teatree Oil

Add 4-5 drops of tea tree oil to a cup of carrier oil such as olive or jojoba oil. Apply it to your acne lesions and wash off after half an hour.

Studies found that tea tree oil gel is very useful in treating mild to moderate acne.

Tea tree oil has antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties that help to fight acne effectively.

Vedix Tip: Do a patch test on your wrist or inside the elbow before applying tea tree oil to your skin. You can continue to use it on your acne if you do not experience any side effects until 48 hours after the application.

F. Baking Soda

Add 2-3 spoons of baking soda to a cup of water. Apply the paste to the affected area and wash it off after 10-15 minutes.

Baking soda is the best home remedy to treat itchy skin lesions occurring from poison ivy, bug bites, or other rashes.

Important Note:

Talk to your doctor before applying any of the home remedies to understand if they really help your type of skin lesion.

2. Medications

As a first-line treatment, doctors may suggest topical medications to control the inflammation and relieve you from associated symptoms of skin lesions such as itching, pain, or burning sensation.

3. Surgery

If a skin lesion is infected, then it is typically treated by piercing and draining the pus. Additionally, doctors may prescribe antibiotics and skin healing medication courses for quick recovery.

Also, surgeries are required to remove the suspicious-looking moles while they are potentially malignant. Laser surgeries are used to eliminate hemangioma [9], which is a certain type of birthmark that forms due to malformed blood vessels.

Important Note:

Do not treat any serious skin lesions on your own. Always consult your doctor to understand the underlying cause and get the right treatment.

What Are Dangerous Signs Of Skin Lesions?

1. Risks

People may have skin lesions as hereditary. For instance, if any of the family members have more freckles or moles, then the person is more likely to develop those types of skin lesions.

People infected with autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis may likely develop skin lesions throughout their lives.

Besides, people who have allergy-prone skin are also at the risk of developing lesions as a result of their allergies.

2. Potential Complications

Permanent scarring (permanent changes in the skin) is one of the common and direct complications of skin lesions. “Certain skin lesions can also come with life-threatening complications such as rashes linked to serious infections or melanoma,” says Dr. Zeel.

Melanoma is more common in men. However, the rate of developing melanoma before age 50 is higher in women than in men [10].

If the harmful skin lesions are not diagnosed and not treated timely, it can lead to permanent damage and serious complications including:

  • Spread of infection
  • Scarring
  • Organ failure, or dysfunction
  • Cosmetic disfigurement
  • Altered pigmentation
  • Meningitis
  • Progression of other symptoms
  • Spread of cancer

When Should You Be Concerned About A Skin Lesion?

You need to seek medical help immediately if you notice a dark skin lesion or a mole that has changed significantly in color, shape, or size over a short period.

Check if the skin lesion is rough, scaly, bleeding, or oozing supported by itching, pain, or tenderness as these signs are a matter of concern. Also, consult your dermatologist if you have any sore skin lesions which are not healed or persisted for a long time.

The Last Word

Skin lesions can be caused by different factors including sun exposure, viruses, bacteria, blocked pores, mites, chronic conditions, etc. You need to understand what is the root cause of your skin lesions to avoid delay in getting the right treatment. If there are sudden changes in any skin lesion, it might be a matter of concern. Though cancer is less likely to cause sudden changes in skin lesions, it is always better to have early diagnosis and treatment for better results.

At Vedix, we customize an Ayurvedic skincare regimen for your unique skin needs by evaluating your dosha levels.

Know Your Dosha Now

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