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Skin Lesions: Types, Causes, and Treatment Options

Updated on August 21, 2014

A skin lesion is an abnormal patch of skin. There are several types of lesions that can develop on your skin, and various factors that cause them. For example, moles and warts are lesions, as are psoriasis and acne. However, lesions on your skin can also be symptomatic of a cancerous skin condition, so it is important to properly identify these lesions as soon as possible, in case medical intervention is required.

There are Six Primary Types of Skin Lesions


According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), macules are characteristic for being a different color than the surrounding skin; however, if you touch them, they may not feel differently. Examples of macules include freckles and flat moles. Some macules are hereditary and can be removed by surgery.


Nodules are very hard legions, and large nodules are known as tumors. They can be the result of many conditions ranging from severe acne to skin cancer. Nodules that are not deeply embedded in the skin can be treated topically. However, deeply embedded nodules need to be cut out or frozen off.


Papules can be a single lesion or a group of lesions (called plaques). They vary in color from pink to brown. Warts can cause papules, as can psoriasis and seborrhea. However, syphilis, Candida infections, and skin cancer are also associated with papules. Oral and topical medications can usually cure these conditions.


Pustules are lesions that contain pus. Acne, boils, and other infections are examples of conditions that cause pustules. Dermatitis can also cause these pus-filled legions. Topical medications can sometimes be used to treat pustules, depending on the specific cause.


Telangiectasis is the formation of small visible blood vessels that give the appearance of small red marks, and they are usually associated with rosacea and scleroderma. They can be removed with laser therapy.


Wheals are itchy and they also swell. Allergic reactions to insect bites and certain drugs usually cause them, and they usually go away when you cease to be exposed to the offending element. Also, taking antihistamines helps to alleviate wheals, and taking them in advance can deter the legions from developing.


Many skin lesions are difficult to diagnose on your own, so consult a dermatologist or your primary care physician to conduct an examination and determine treatment options.


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