What are Skin Lesions and What Do They Mean?
Most people are hyper aware of their skin. After all, they live in it every day.
The good thing about this is that people often notice any changes that occur on their skin. The bad news is that people tend to obsess over these changes and worry incessantly about them.
And, while it is true that skin lesions and other skin changes can sometimes be indicative of a serious problem, more often than not, they are totally harmless.
If you have recently developed a skin lesion, don’t panic, and do not automatically assume it is cancer. Instead, take the time to learn about the various causes of skin lesions.
What Exactly is a Skin Lesion? It’s Muscles
First of all, it is important to understand what skin lesions are. We say that because many people think that they have skin lesions when, in fact, they do not.
A skin lesion, to put it in simple terms, is any bump, ulcer, lump, sore, or discolored area on the surface of the skin. Sadly, many people think that skin lesions only occur due to serious illness or the presence of skin cancer.
However, that is not the case. Skin lesions can and do occur for a wide variety of different reasons.
Causes Of Skin Lesion
Perhaps one of the most alarming but ultimately harmless skin lesions that people experience is a condition known as seborrheic keratosis. With this condition, people will develop one or more skin growths.
These growths, unfortunately, often resemble warts. Even worse yet, they often resemble cancerous warts.
The good news about these growths is that they are totally harmless. The bad news is that the only way to know for sure if you are dealing with one of these growths or with something more serious is to have it checked out by a healthcare professional.
Still, though, it is always better to be safe than sorry and to know exactly what type of skin lesion you are dealing with.
Another common skin lesion that tends to scare people but that, ultimately, is harmless, is a condition known as Lichen Planus.
This condition is simply a skin rash. It is not contagious, so you cannot pass it on to other. You will often know that you are dealing with Lichen Planus because, in addition to skin lesions, you may also experience lesions in the mouth, which may burn.
In most cases, a visit to a doctor and a prescription for antibiotics will treat both the condition and your worried mind.
If your skin looks red and raised and you can’t figure out why, Erysipelas may be to blame.
This condition is an infection that affects the upper layer of the skin. The good news is that, as long as you catch it early, it isn’t serious. Plus, it is also easily treatable with the right course of antibiotics as prescribed by your doctor.
Are you the kind of person who regularly suffers from allergic reactions to things?
Maybe your throat closes up when you eat shrimp, or maybe you can’t breathe once a dog is in your vicinity. Whatever the case may be, allergy sufferers are quite prone to developing skin lesions due to contact with an allergen.
This condition is referred to as contact dermatitis and can lead to red, itchy, irritated, and generally inflamed skin.
Even if you are not allergy prone, it is worth having the condition checked for and tested. You may be allergic to something without even realizing it, and discovering your allergy could end up saving your life.
A Skin Ulcer
Sometimes, the skin can “erupt” in such a way that can only be due to an ulcer.
Ulcers on the skin can occur for all kinds of different reasons, including the presence of diabetes and other serious conditions.
So, while the development of a skin ulcer does not necessarily mean you should start planning for skin cancer recovery, it definitely does mean that it is time to get checked out by a professional.
Ringworm is a super common cause of skin lesions. The lesions related to this condition are also quite distinct, so it is easy to spot.
A person suffering from ringworm will typically have a red, round, raised rash on the affected area.
This rash, while not caused by a worm despite its name, is itchy and uncomfortable. Plus, it is highly contagious. It can even be transferred from people to pets (mostly cats) and vice versa if you are not careful. Thus, you will want to get proper medical treatment- usually a simple antibiotic ointment- as soon as possible.
When you think of leprosy, you probably think of biblical times and of people being “unclean.”
Believe it or not, however, leprosy does still exist, and it is actually one of those skin lesions that you should take seriously.
While rare in this day and age, leprosy is a bacterial infection that will only get worse with time if left untreated. It starts with leopard like red spots on the skin that grow painful with time.
Eventually, it can lead to complete disfigurement, though this only occurs in extreme cases. The good news is that, unlike in biblical times, the condition won’t make you a pariah for life. Instead, it can be treated quite easily, but you do need to notice it and seek medical help as soon as possible for the best outcome.
Most people think of chickenpox and the small, itchy red blisters it causes as something affecting only children.
However, anyone who has not had the condition before, adult or not, can contract it. And, to make matters worse, it is usually worse when contracted in adulthood and more dangerous.
If you think you might have chickenpox, especially if you know you have been exposed to it already, see a doctor right away for proper treatment and to reduce the risk of spreading the condition to others.
Should You See a Doctor?
The question that people most commonly ask when they discover skin lesions is whether or not they should see a doctor.
The easiest answer to that question is always a “yes.” After all, you really have nothing to lose by checking in with a doctor. Plus, if something is wrong, you can get the help you need early on.
While no one can tell you when, exactly to go to a doctor in the case of a skin lesion, there are some times when you definitely should, without a doubt, see a doctor.
A big one is if your skin lesion or skin lesions suddenly change in size. If they start out the size of a penny and then grow to quarter size overnight, something is definitely not right, and your lesions need to be looked at by a healthcare professional.
In fact, any change in a skin lesion is bad news, or at least means that it is time to see a doctor. Take color changes, for instances. If your lesion goes red overnight or switches from red to purple, black, or yellow, see a doctor. These types of changes may mean the lesion is growing or changing more swiftly than it should and that proper diagnosis and help is desperately needed.
Also take notice if you experience a lot of pain from a lesion. Most non-serious lesions are mostly non-painful. Yes, they may itch or cause you irritation, but, if they genuinely hurt, that is cause for real concern and medical intervention.
The same thing goes for bleeding. If a lesion bleeds, especially if it does so without you picking at it or touching it, which you should never do anyway, it is time for some real medical intervention.
In fact, any seepage from the lesion, including puss or general discharge, should cause you to get to a doctor immediately. Discharge often indicates that an infection is present, and the only way to clear up an infection without putting yourself in serious danger is to see a doctor.
Also, see a doctor if something happens to the lesion, such as if you accidentally sunburn over it or you scrape it in the shower. Some things can turn a lesion from benign into harmful, so any changes, even ones you cause accidentally, warrant some medical advice.
As you can see, your skin will often let you know when something is amiss. Pay attention to it. And, while you shouldn’t freak out over every tiny skin lesion, you should note each lesion and, when appropriate, seek professional medical care. After all, your skin is something you have to live in for the rest of your life, so you want to take as good of care of it as possible.