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Describing a Skin Condition

How to describe a skin condition

A doctor may ask you to describe your dermatological condition and its location. Here are some of the more common terms that may help you provide a more accurate description:

Atrophic

Thin, wrinkled

Blister or vesicle

Fluid-filled bump

Crust or scab

Formation of dried blood, plasma, or other skin fluid over a break in the skin

Cyst

Deeply seated sac lesion that contains material

Excoriation

A scratch or erosion caused by scratching 

Hives or wheals

Pink or white localized swelling of the skin that is usually itchy

Lichenification

Skin that has become thickened, hardened, or leathery from chronic scratching

Macule

Flat, discolored spot

Nodule or papule

Solid, raised bumps. A nodule is greater than 0.5 cm and a papule is less than or equal to 0.5 cm. 

Raised bumps

Bumps that stick out above the skin surface

Patch

Flat, large discolored spot with smooth surface

Pustule (pimple)

Inflamed, elevated lesions that appear to contain pus

Scales

A buildup of dead skin cells that form flakes

Scar

Fibrous tissue that forms after a skin injury

Online Medical Reviewer: Jones, Niya, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Petersen, Sheralee, MPAS, PA-C
Last Review Date: 1/17/2013
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