Types of Skin Lesions

Many different types of lesions can appear on the skin. While some lesions are harmless, or benign, others are a form of cancer. If a patient develops a lesion on their skin that concerns them, they should make an appointment with a doctor. A doctor will examine and possibly biopsy the lesion to determine what it is.

Benign Lesions

A number of lesions are of no cause for concern to a patient or doctor. Patients may want to monitor these lesions to make sure they are in fact benign, though. Although harmless, some benign lesions can be irritating or can affect a person's self confidence and might need to be removed.

●      Seborrheic keratoses. Seborrheic keratoses are the most common form of benign lesions on the skin. Three factors identify a seborrheic keratosis: greasy appearance, brown color, and scaliness. The cause of these lesions isn't known, though they do appear in older adults far more frequently than in children. If the lesions are bothering a patient, they can be cut off or removed using cryotherapy.

●      Ephilides. Ephilides is the medical term for freckles. Although benign, a lot of freckles can suggest that a person's skin has been damaged by the sun and that he or she is at an increased risk for melanoma. Ephilides aren't usually treated medically, though people who are bothered by their freckles can apply a cream to attempt to lighten them.

●      Nevus. A nevus is a mole. It's an area of growth marked by hyperpigmentation. Although usually benign, an atypical nevus can be a precursor to melanoma in a patient. If the risk of cancer is suspected, a patient's mole may be biopsied and removed.

Cancerous Lesions


Some lesions that develop on the skin are a form of skin cancer. While melanoma is perhaps the most recognized form of skin cancer, there are several other forms as well. The most frequent form of skin cancer is basal cell carcinoma. A basal cell lesion usually forms on the parts of skin that are exposed to the sun.

Basal cell lesions can look like a scaly patch on the skin or like a waxy bump. The bump may be white or brown, depending on a person's skin color. Usually, the lesions bleed and look like scabs or sores that just won't heal. Some types of basal cell carcinomas look like scars. Although the scar-like lesions look innocent, they can actually be a sign that an invasive form of the cancer is developing.

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    November 2012