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Describing a Skin Condition

How to describe a skin condition

A healthcare provider may ask you to describe your skin condition and its location. Here are some of the more common terms that may help you give a more accurate description:

Atrophic

Thin, dry, wrinkled skin

Blister or vesicle

Fluid-filled bump under or in the epidermis that is less than 1 cm in size

Crust or scab

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

Cyst

Enclosed sac in skin containing fluid or solid material

Excoriation

An erosion with loss of the epidermis, 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 with skin markings from chronic scratching

Macule

Flat, discolored spot

Nodule or papule

Solid, raised bumps. A nodule is greater than 1 cm and a papule is less than or equal to 1 cm. 

Raised bumps

Bumps that stick out above the skin surface

Patch

Flat, large discolored spot with smooth surface

Pustule (pimple)

Inflamed, raised lesions that seem 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: Berman, Kevin, MD, PhD
Online Medical Reviewer: Sather, Rita, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 2/1/2017
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