Updated: 2/13/2018

Terminology of Skin Lesions

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

This clinical photograph shows a rash or eruption, with widespread skin involvement.

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
  • Palpable Papules and Plaques
    • e.g., plaque psoriasis
Plaque
Nodule
  • Palpable, solid, 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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