15 of the Most Common Types of Skin Lesions and Prevention Strategies

Published November 30th, 2021 by Erik Rivera
Fact Checked by
Jacqueline Hensler
Medically Reviewed:
Chris Riley

What are Skin Lesions | Common Types | Prevention

Skin lesions are common skin conditions that appear as an abnormal growth. There are many skin lesions, each of which is caused by a different skin condition or skin disease. Some skin lesion causes include skin damage from acne or psoriasis or skin cancer. Skin lesions can happen to anyone, but there are ways to prevent its growth and development for certain lesions. There are many different causes of skin lesions, but the 15 most common causes will be discussed here. Continue reading to learn more about these causes and how to prevent them.

What are skin lesions?

Skin lesions are skin abnormalities that look different than the surrounding normal skin. The type of lesion can be broken down into two categories, Primary And Secondary Skin Lesions. Primary Skin Lesions are skin abnormalities that occur at birth or are acquired during your lifetime. Secondary skin lesions are skin abnormalities that appear due to the irritation of a primary lesion. An example of a secondary lesion would be a scab forming from accidentally shaving over a pimple.

What are the 15 most common types of skin lesions?

Many skin conditions can lead to skin lesions. There are many different types of skin lesions, but the 15 most common skin lesion causes include:

Allergic Eczema

Allergic eczema causes skin lesions through skin irritation and skin inflammation. There is no known cause for most cases of allergic eczema, but it can be brought on by certain allergens such as pollen or dust mites. Allergic skin lesions usually appear in childhood and tend to disappear with age. However, the tendency to have an allergy may continue into adulthood. Diagnosis involves a skin test to find the allergen and skin lesions can be treated with antihistamines or steroid creams. Avoidance of what causes an allergic reaction is key for preventing skin lesions from appearing again.

Acne

Acne skin lesions are skin abnormalities that result from the overproduction of oil, called sebum, in the skin. Acne, or acne vulgaris, can be caused by many things, but it is most commonly associated with puberty and hormone levels. There are multiple types of acne skin lesions, including blackheads or whiteheads on the face, and pimples on the forehead, nose, and chin. Acne skin lesions can be treated with creams or oral medications that kill bacteria.

Skin cancer

Skin cancer skin lesions are skin abnormalities that can be difficult to detect. These skin conditions appear as dark patches or spots on certain areas of the body such as the underarms and groin areas although they can occur anywhere. These dark spots can look like abnormal moles. These can be indicative of multiple types of skin cancers. If these skin lesions stay for a long time without changing they may indicate skin cancer. However, many skin cancer skin lesions change appearance over time due to skin regeneration. Skin cancer skin lesions can be prevented by avoiding too much sun exposure and wearing protective clothing on sun-exposed skin while outdoors during peak hours of sunlight.

Herpes simplex

Herpes skin lesions are caused by the herpes simplex virus and are generally categorized as a cold sore. Cold sores appear as blisters on the lips that break open into skin ulcers. Most people with herpes experience no skin lesion symptoms at all. Herpes skin lesions can be treated with antiviral medications applied to the skin, but there is no known cure for herpes skin lesions.

Psoriasis

Psoriasis skin lesions are skin abnormalities that can appear anywhere on the body, including areas such as palms and soles of feet. Psoriasis skin lesions develop when new skin cells grow too quickly. These excess skin cells build up in skin lesions that are red, scaly skin patches. Psoriasis skin lesions can be treated with skin creams or steroid medications.

Nummular eczema

Nummular skin lesions are skin abnormalities that appear as coin-shaped patches on the skin. Nummular skin lesions can be caused by a variety of things, including allergies to certain medications or environmental allergens such as pollen and dust mites. These skin conditions tend to go away with age, however for some people they can become chronic skin conditions.

Actinic keratosis

Actinic skin lesions are skin abnormalities that appear as small dark spots on the skin. These skin conditions can be caused by exposure to sunlight and may develop into squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer if not treated quickly enough. Actinic skin lesions can be removed with surgery or other methods depending on their severity. It is important to monitor skin lesions that keep recurring.

Impetigo

Impetigo skin lesions are skin abnormalities that appear as yellow or honey-colored patches on the skin. These skin conditions develop when certain bacteria infect an area of broken skin, which causes swelling and eventual rupture in these areas. Impetigo can be treated with antibiotic medications to kill this bacterium. It is important to keep children with skin lesions away from others during treatment because the infection can spread easily.

Scabies

Scabies skin lesions are skin abnormalities that occur when the skin is infected with a parasite called scabies. These mites are also known by their scientific name of Sarcoptes scabiei. Scabies skin areas usually become red, swollen, and itchy before they break open in sores. These skin conditions can be difficult to diagnose because someone may not show any signs of them at all.

Contact dermatitis

Contact skin lesions are skin abnormalities that occur when the skin comes in contact with a certain substance and can also be called allergic contact dermatitis. These skin conditions can be caused by contact with irritants such as pesticides, soaps, and perfumes. However, they may also show up due to reactions to jewelry or other materials used on the skin. Contact dermatitis skin lesions usually appear red and itchy and may blister or ooze fluid.

Chickenpox

Chickenpox skin lesions are skin abnormalities that occur when the skin is infected with the varicella-zoster virus or VZV. These skin conditions typically develop into blisters on one area of skin before they spread to other areas of the body. Chickenpox skin lesions usually heal without scarring, but there have been cases in which people have had some damage due to skin lesions.

Shingles

Shingles skin lesions are skin abnormalities that usually occur in patches of skin that are infected with the same virus that causes chickenpox, VZV, or varicella-zoster virus. Shingles usually reoccur because a person can get shingles at any time after they have had chickenpox. The rash is usually linear, or in a line, and can cause very painful tingling, itching, or burning sensations. Other symptoms include fever, chills, and fatigue.

Epidermoid cyst

Epidermoid skin cysts, also known as a sebaceous cyst or epidermal inclusion cyst, are skin abnormalities that  appear as dome-shaped bumps on the skin. These skin conditions often develop when hair follicles become blocked and then grow into cysts at the surface of the skin. They can also be caused by damage to or irritation of skin cells that may lead them to turn into epidermal skin lesions. These skin conditions can be removed with surgery.

MRSA or staph infection

MRSA skin lesions are skin abnormalities that occur when a cut or wound is infected with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus or methicillin-resistant S. aureus which is how we get the name MRSA. These skin conditions appear as red, swollen, painful bumps on the skin and may ooze fluid if they become damaged or broken open. People who have skin lesions caused by MRSA can be treated with oral or topical antibiotics. Please note that these infections are very serious and you should seek medical attention immediately if you believe you have a staph infection.

Cellulitis

Cellulitis skin lesions are skin abnormalities that appear as swollen, red patches on the skin. These skin conditions develop when bacteria or fungi infect an area of skin that has a wound or crack and cause inflammation in these areas. Cellulitis can be treated with oral or topical antibiotics. You should seek medical attention immediately if your cellulitis becomes very painful or itchy or turns into skin lesions.

Are there ways to prevent skin lesions?

No. There are several skin lesions that can be prevented but there is no way to prevent skin lesions from occurring completely. Some ways you may be able to reduce the risk of developing certain skin conditions include staying away from areas where people have been infected with a particular condition, making sure your vaccinations are up-to-date so you do not develop skin lesions from a virus or bacteria, and practicing good hygiene to avoid skin conditions such as impetigo. For example, if you don't have the chickenpox vaccine, it's best to stay away from a house where people are suffering from it. Wearing sunscreen and clothing to protect your skin from the sun can also help reduce skin lesions, including skin cancer. Also remember to thoroughly clean any wound, crack, or cut on the skin to also prevent infections that can lead to skin lesions.

Summary

Skin lesions are any abnormality on the skin that looks different compared to the surrounding skin. There are numerous causes for skin lesions and we have highlighted some of the most common ones in this article. They can be caused by something as simple as acne or as difficult as skin cancer which makes it important to know why they are occurring and how serious they may be to your health. Although there is no way to prevent all skin lesions, there are some simple steps you can take to help prevent some of them. The best methods for prevention include wearing sunscreen or clothing to protect your skin if you will be out in the sun and also avoiding places with infected people. Should you have any other questions about skin lesions, we recommend seeing your doctor, dermatologist, or healthcare provider.

References and Sources: 

American Family Physician

Osmosis 

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