Skin lesions are defined as patches or areas of the skin that have a different appearance from the rest of the surrounding area. They appear as bumps, strips, or clusters that are often red, blue or much darker in colour. These lesions can have a variety of reasons behind them and depending on the type of lesion, there will be different ways of dealing with each. While most skin lesions do not pose serious danger, some can lead to a more advanced form of skin issue. This is why it is important to identify them early in order to treat them properly. We spoke to our in-house skin expert Dr. Sravya Tirpineni who has helped us detail some of the most common types of skin lesions below; what they look like, what are their major causes and the best way to deal with them. Read on to find out...
- 1. Acne
- 2. Chickenpox
- 3. Eczema
- 4. Scabies
- 5. Shingles
- 6. Contact Dermatitis
- 7. Ringworm
- 8. Hives
- 9. Keloid
- 10. Cold sores
Acne, in very simple words, is an inflammatory condition of different grades. It occurs because of the growth of bacteria and presents as papules, pustules, nodules or cysts. There can be a number of reasons behind it - mainly genetic, environmental, dietary, stress-related, and hormonal factors. Acne can be treated adequately with both topical and oral medication to deal with the root cause of it. The course of treatment is determined by the grade and cause of the acne, with the post-treatment scar management being a wholly separate system, but both going hand-in-hand.
Chickenpox is one of the most common viral infections of childhood and adulthood. The condition is caused by the varicella-zoster virus and usually comprises a very typically appearing skin rash. The rash is preceded by an upper respiratory tract infection a few days prior, where the patient experiences a sore throat, slight throat pain, loss of appetite, might have a slight fever - basically flu-like symptoms. This is then followed by the appearance of a rash which is easily identified by a dermatologist as a chickenpox rash. The treatment is done with antivirals such as acyclovir and valacyclovir, as well as topical or oral antibiotics so that the rash doesn’t get infected or scar too much.
Eczema is an inflammatory condition that is characterised by itchy, reddish and scaly patches of skin. It can occur at different ages - from infancy to adulthood. They have a lot of environmental triggers, with atopic dermatitis being the most common type of eczema seen in patients. The treatment options vary from just a very good moisturising skincare regimen to using intermittent medications and lifestyle changes necessary as directed by dermatologists, dependent on the severity and type of the condition.
Scabies is an extremely itchy condition caused by a mite called sarcoptes scabiei. The condition is mostly seen in poor or crowded living conditions. It is mostly found in dusty areas, a newly moved-into house, old clothes or sometimes in households which have pets. The mites are typically buried in the skin and can be seen in the form of burrows on the skin, with lesions usually occurring in the finger web spaces. Scabies needs to be treated immediately, not only for the patient, but for the whole family as well. Creams like permethrin and crotamiton are typically used, with added antibiotics and antihistamines if necessary.
'Shingles' is a common word used to describe a medical condition called herpes-zoster, which is a viral infection caused by the same chickenpox virus. Whenever the patient has had chickenpox earlier in his/her life or contact with the virus, it stays dormant in the spinal cord. Under certain conditions in the body, or under certain immunity conditions, it gets activated and travels through one particular cutaneous nerve which is supplying to one particular area of the body unilaterally and presents as shingles. These are grouped, fluid-filled blisters on a reddish base of skin and are accompanied by a lot of pain and burning sensation. They have a very typical unilateral presentation and should be immediately treated with antiviral medication such as acyclovir and valacyclovir, along with oral antibiotics. The earlier this condition is treated, the lesser are the complications caused by it.
6. Contact Dermatitis
Contact Dermatitis mainly comprises two types - allergic contact dermatitis and irritant contact dermatitis. It can be caused by any external or internal trigger and presents itself as very itchy or inflamed parts of the skin in different distributions. The most common allergic contact dermatitis examples that we see are either due to certain medications, beauty products, plant saps, insect contacts, or hair dyes. Irritant contact dermatitis is also very commonly seen with similar triggers. These conditions can easily be treated with topical steroids and antihistamines orally.
Ringworm refers to a medical condition called tinea, which has different types and the names correspond to the area in which it occurs. It can present itself anywhere from the scalp to the toes. It is most common in the sweaty regions of our body like the underarms, groin region and under breasts. It is a fungal infection and must be treated with both oral and topical antifungals as soon as possible. Most people misuse the topical steroid combination creams that are available at the pharmaceutical store and end up reporting delayed and ineffective treatment. The condition definitely needs to be consulted about with a dermatologist right after you spot it to avoid further issues.
'Hives' is a common word used for a medical condition called urticaria. They are reddish, itchy swellings and look like big mosquito bites which may occur on any part of the body. The main cause behind them is an allergic reaction - either due to food, substances or drugs taken internally or when you come in contact with the allergens externally. There are multiple reasons behind it, including bee stings and other plant irritants, and is caused because of a histamine release in the skin, which is where the infection is seen. It can be very easily treated with antiallergics given as soon as possible and in the right dosage.
A keloid, as the name suggests, means 'claw'. It is a scar tissue that refuses to stop growing and has no control. Hence, it claws its way to the surrounding skin and is basically an uncontrollable scar tissue growth. It causes a lot of discomfort to the patient, along with an unsightly appearance. There are a lot of different options for treatment and it is best to leave surgery out of it as it might result in a bigger keloid. It can be treated extremely effectively with either a modality or a combination of modalities of treatments, namely injections or intralesional triamcinolone acetonide spaced 3 to 4 weeks apart. This mode of treatment has been very effective, with other medications like fluorouracil, and clinical treatments like cryotherapy and liquid nitrogen therapy used in combination. Silicone patches or pressure patches and scar gels have also helped many.
10. Cold sores
'Cold sores' is a common layman term given to an actual viral infection called herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), which is also the source for the same. They can occur in different age groups, are transmitted in different manners and are treated with antiviral drugs, namely acyclovir or valacyclovir. A blood test can also be done to confirm the diagnosis as well. It is a very common condition and is usually seen during a period of febrile illness or fever, or if a patient is sick with a cold, cough or flu - which is why it is called a cold sore.