Skin Condition Definitions and Treatments

Choose from the list of disorders below to view the descriptions. If you have any questions please contact one of our professional staff members:


Plugged pores (blackheads and whiteheads), pimples, and even deeper lumps (cysts or nodules) that occur on the face, neck, chest, back, shoulders and the upper arms. Acne affects most teenagers to some extent. However, the disease is not restricted to any age group; adults in their 20s – even into their 40s – can get acne. While not a life threatening condition, acne can be upsetting and disfiguring. When severe, acne can lead to serious and permanent scarring. Even less severe cases can lead to scarring. To avoid acne scarring, treating acne early is important.
back to top Back to Top

Actinic keratoses

(AKs) are considered the earliest stage in the development of skin cancer. They are common lesions of the epidermis (outermost layer of the skin), and are caused by long-term exposure to sunlight. AKs are most likely to appear after age 40, however, in geographic areas with year-round high-intensity sunlight such as Florida and southern California, AKs may be found in persons as young as the teens and twenties. Half of all older, fair-skinned persons who live in hot, sunny areas have AKs. The most significant predisposing factor to AKs is fair skin and long-term sun exposure.

Chronic sun exposure causes skin cells to change size, shape, and the way they are organized. The skin cells affected in AKs are the keratinocytes. Keratinocytes are the tough-walled cells that make up 90 percent of the epidermis and give the skin its texture. AKs are caused by changes in keratinocytes and the skin becomes rough, scaly, or mottled; and and occasionally, the skin may develop bumps or small horn-like growths. Further changes in cell growth can turn AKs into squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer.
back to top Back to Top

Alopecia areata

(AA) causes hair loss in small, round patches that may go away on their own, or may last for many years. Nearly 2% of the U.S. population (about four million people) will develop AA in their lifetime. Some people with AA (about 5%) may lose all scalp hair (alopecia totalis) or all scalp and body hair (alopecia universalis). The immune system, for unknown reasons, attacks the hair root and causes hair loss.
back to top Back to top

Atopic dermatitis

(AD) – is a chronic inflammatory pruritic skin disease which occurs most frequently in children but can occur in adults and follows a relapsing course. It is often associated with elevated serum IgE levels and a personal or family history of Type I allergies, allergic rhinitis and asthma.
back to top Back to Top

Basal Cell Carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma: a skin cancer that develops in the basal layer of the skin-deeper than the surface layer. It is associated with aging and years of chronic sun exposure. Basal cell carcinoma seldom spreads to other parts of the body, but can be disfiguring if not treated early. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of cancer worldwide. In the vast majority of cases, it is thought to be caused by exposure to the harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. It is becoming more common, perhaps because people may be spending more time outdoors. Some believe that the decrease in the ozone layer is allowing more ultraviolet radiation from the sun to reach the earth’s surface. Basal cell cancer does not usually metastasize or travel in the bloodstream; rather it infiltrates the surrounding area destroying tissue. For this reason, basal cell cancer should be treated promptly by your dermatologist with dermatologic surgical techniques.
back to top Back to Top


Condlyoma is also known as: wart, genital wart, venereal wart, and all are caused by a virus called the human papilloma virus.
back to top Back to Top

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis is characterized by redness, swelling, itching, and scaling caused by an allergic substance that makes direct contact with the skin. The condition can develop at any age, although the facial version of the disorder is most often seen in young and middle-aged adults.
back to top Back to Top

Epidermoid Cysts

Epidermoid cysts (also called epidermal inclusion cysts) are the most common type of cutaneous cyst. They are primarily found on the face, neck and trunk. These cysts are quite common in adults, particularly those who have had acne vulgaris in the past. These cysts are more commonly found in men and vary in size from less than a centimeter to several centimeters. A pit or punctum can often be seen on the cutaneous surface overlying the cyst. Epidermoid cysts can be a component of genodermatoses such as Gardner syndrome and the basal cell nevus syndrome. Histologically, a cystic space containing laminated keratin is seen. The wall of the cyst is composed of several layers of flattened keratinizing squamous epithelial cells with a granular layer on the luminal surface. The cyst wall may be thin and can rupture if distended or traumatized. If the cyst contents leak into the adjacent dermis inflammation occurs that results in clinically apparent erythema and tenderness.
back to top Back to Top

Drug Eruptions

Drug eruptions are extremely diverse, with almost any drug sometimes capable of producing a specific type of reaction. A particular drug may also cause several different reaction patterns in different patients. Although most drug eruptions occur within days to weeks after beginning the offending agent, occasionally a reaction begins after long-term use of a particular drug. Certain types of drug reactions have immunologic mechanisms, but non-immunologic mechanisms are also involved, sometimes being dose-related. Exanthem-like (macular and papular) eruptions are the most frequent of all cutaneous reactions to drugs. Clinically, a widespread symmetrical eruption consisting of erythematous macules and papules is seen, usually accompanied by pruritus and sometimes fever.

The drugs most commonly responsible for exanthematous eruptions include penicillins, cephalosporins, sulfonamides, carbamazepine, hydantoins, allopurinol, and gold. Occasionally, maculopapular eruptions are associated with interstitial nephritis, hepatitis, and lymphadenopathy.
back to top Back to Top


The terms “eczema” or “dermatitis” are used to describe certain kinds of inflamed skin conditions including allergic contact dermatitis and nummular dermatitis. Eczema can be red, blistering, oozing, scaly, brownish, or thickened and usually itches. A special type is called atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema.
back to top Back to Top


Folliculitis is a somewhat nonspecific term that refers to inflammation of the hair follicle (in clinical practice, this term does not include acne vulgaris). The most common etiology of folliculitis is bacterial infection, often due to Staphylococcus aureus. The usual clinical presentation is superficial pustules and/or papules in the distribution of the hair follicles. The face, chest, back, thighs, and buttocks are often involved.

Folliculitis is frequently initiated by mild physical injury to the follicles, such as friction caused by tight-fitting garments, or by ingrown hairs in the beard area in men. Less commonly, folliculitis is caused by infection by fungi, such as dermatophytes or Pityrosporum. Folliculitis due to Pseudomonas aeruginosa (“hot tub folliculitis”) may occur in patients exposed to water sources that are contaminated by that organism. Treatment of folliculitis is aimed at eliminating the offending agent(s), and includes topical and/or systemic antibacterial or antifungal preparations.
back to top Back to Top

Fungal Infection

Athlete’s foot, or tinea pedis, is a fungal infection, tiny plant-like “germs,” that can grow and multiply on human skin, especially the feet. It grows best in a dark, moist, and warm environment. A foot inside a shoe is the perfect place for the fungus. The same fungus may also cause “jock itch” in the groin.
back to top Back to Top

Granuloma Annulare

Granuloma annulare is a raised, bumpy or ring-shaped lesion which may occur singly or in groups on the skin. It is especially common in children and young adults, although it may affect people of all ages, and is twice as common in women as it is in men.
back to top Back to Top


Hemangioma Benign tumors of the vascular endothelium. Hemangiomas of infancy are the most common type of hemangiomas, characterized by a unique natural history of growth in early infancy, followed by slow involution over the next several years. Hemangiomas may be present at the time of birth as so-called precursor lesions in approximately half of the cases. Rarely are they fully-formed tumors at birth. In the remainder of cases, lesions become evident after birth, usually within the second and fourth weeks of life.
back to top Back to Top

Herpes simplex

The herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes blisters and sores around the mouth, nose, genitals, and buttocks, but they may occur almost anywhere on the skin or mucous membranes. HSV infections can be very annoying because they may reappear periodically. The sores may be painful and unsightly. For chronically ill people and newborn babies, the viral infection can be serious, but rarely fatal. There are two types of HSV – Type 1 and Type 2.
back to top Back to Top

Herpes zoster (shingles)

Herpes zoster, also known as shingles or zoster, is a viral infection caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. Anyone who has had chicken pox can develop herpes zoster. The virus remains dormant (inactive), in certain nerve cells of the body, and when it reactivates it causes zoster. About 20 percent of those people who have had chicken pox will get zoster. Most people get zoster only once.
back to top Back to Top

Lichen Planus

Lichen planus is an inflammatory disease that usually affects the skin, the mouth, or sometimes both. It may affect the genital skin as well. The cause of lichen planus is not known. There are cases of lichen planus-type rashes occurring as allergic reactions to medications for high blood pressure, heart disease and arthritis. In those cases, identifying and stopping the use of the drug helps clear up the condition within a few weeks. Some people with lichen planus can also have hepatitis C. Lichen planus affects men and women equally, and occurs most often in middle-aged adults.
back to top Back to Top

Keratosis Pilaris

An inherited skin condition, keratosis pilaris, occurs in up to 40% of the population. It is commonly seen in children and young adults; the condition may continue later in life. Characterized by tiny, flesh-colored to slightly red bumps that give the skin a sandpaper-like texture, keratosis pilaris develops on the outer areas of the upper arms. It also frequently occurs on the thighs and cheeks. Each tiny bump is a plug of dead skin cells that forms at the site of a hair follicle.
back to top Back to Top


Lentigo: a small brownish spot (of the pigment melanin) on the skin.
back to top Back to Top


Lupus: Patients with lupus erythematosus (LE) often have skin signs and develop many different types of lesions. LE skin diseases are divided into two broad categories: those skin lesions that occur only in people with LE, known as LE-specific skin lesions, and those skin lesions that can occur in people with LE, but can also occur in other diseases (LE-non-specific skin lesions). There are three broad categories of LE-specific skin lesions: chronic cutaneous LE (CCLE), or diseases limited to the skin, subacute cutaneous LE (SCLE), and acute cutaneous LE (ACLE). Another skin condition related to lupus is discoid LE, where unsightly red scaly patches develop which leave white scars. Discoid LE predominantly affects the cheeks and nose, but sometimes involves the upper back, V of neck, and backs of hands. Bald areas can develop if the hair follicles are involved. Discoid LE may affect the lips causing ulcers and scaling.
back to top Back to Top


Melanoma is a type of cancer that begins in the skin. It is completely curable when detected early, but can be fatal if allowed to progress and spread. Cancer is a condition where one type of cell grows without limit in a disorganized fashion, disrupting and replacing normal tissues and their functions, much like weeds overgrowing a garden. Melanoma is a cancer of the pigment producing cells in the skin, known as melanocytes. Normal melanocytes reside in the outer layer of the skin and produce the brown pigment melanin, which is responsible for the color of our skin. Melanoma is when melanocytes become cancerous, grow, and invade other tissues.
back to top Back to Top


Melasma is a skin condition presenting as brown patches on the face of adults. The most common sites of involvement are the cheeks, bridge of nose, forehead, and upper lip. Melasma occurs mostly in women. Only 10% of those affected are men. Dark-skinned races, particularly Hispanics, Asians, Indians, people from the Middle East, and Northern Africa, tend to have melasma more than others.
back to top Back to Top

Molluscum Contagiosum

Molluscum contagiosum is a common skin disease caused by a virus which affects the top layers of the skin. The name molluscum contagiosum implies that the virus develops growths that are easily spread by skin contact. Similar to warts, this virus belongs to the poxvirus family and enters the skin through small breaks of hair follicles. It does not affect any internal organs. Molluscums are usually small flesh-colored or pink dome-shaped growths that often become red or inflamed. They may appear shiny and have a small indentation in the center. Because they can spread by skin-to-skin contact, molluscums are usually found in areas of skin that touch each other such as the folds in the arm or the groin. They are also found in clusters on the chest, abdomen, and buttocks and can involve the face and eyelids.
back to top Back to Top


Onychomycosis represents approximately 50% of all nail disorders. Onychomycosis is far more common on the toenail than it is on the fingernail. It may be associated with trauma to the nail and is commonly seen in association with tinea pedis. The disease, which causes the nails to become thickened, hard to cut and often painful, is worsened by moisture, warmth, trauma, communal bathing and other activities that lead to the exposure of fungi. Common complaints of the disorder are pain, deformed nails and interference with monthly activities such as walking, typing, or playing a musical instrument. Those who suffer from the disease cite a substantial negative effect on their quality of life. Nevertheless, the perception still persists in the minds of many physicians that onychomycosis is more of a cosmetic nuisance than a significant disease.
back to top Back to Top

Perioral Dermatitis

Perioral dermatitis is a common skin problem that affects young women and occasionally, men or children. “Perioral” refers to the area around the mouth, and “dermatitis” indicates a rash or irritation of the skin. The areas most affected by perioral dermatitis are the facial lines from the nose to the sides and borders of the lips, and the chin. The areas around the nose, eyes, and cheeks can also be affected. There are small red bumps, mild peeling, mild itching, and sometimes burning associated with perioral dermatitis. When the bumps are the most obvious feature, the disease can look like acne.
back to top Back to Top

Pityriasis Rosea

Pityriasis rosea is a rash that occurs most commonly in people between the ages of 10 and 35, but may occur at any age. The typical rash begins with a single lesion – known as a herald patch (also called primary plaque of mother patch) – that heralds the onset of a more generalized rash that comes after a variable period of time. One to two weeks after the appearance of the herald patch, the secondary rash appears in crops. Appearance of the secondary rash may rarely be delayed for 2 to 3 months or they may appear almost simultaneously. The lesions usually have a central distribution, on the trunk and proximal limbs. The secondary rash has a Christmas-tree-like pattern. Usually there are no permanent marks as a result of this condition, although some darker-skinned persons may develop long-lasting flat brown spots that eventually fade. It may occur at anytime of year, but pityriasis rosea is most common in the spring and fall. Pityriasis rosea usually does not itch and is not contagious.
back to top Back to Top


A sensation that provokes the desire to scratch. Itching can be a significant source of frustration and discomfort for patients. When severe, it can lead to loss of sleep, anxiety, and depression.
back to top Back to Top


Psoriasis is a chronic skin disease that is classically characterized by thickened, red areas of skin covered with silvery scales. The extent of skin involvement can range from discrete, localized areas to generalized body involvement. The joints, nails, and mucous membranes may also be affected with the disease. Some cases of psoriasis are so mild that people don’t know they have it. Severe psoriasis may cover large areas of the body. Dermatologists can help even the most severe cases. Psoriasis is not contagious and cannot be passed from one person to another, but it is most likely to occur in members of the same family. In the United States, two out of every hundred people have psoriasis (four to five million people). There are approximately 150,000 new cases that occur each year.
back to top Back to Top


A common skin disease that causes redness and swelling on the face. Often referred to as “adult acne,” rosacea may begin as a tendency to flush or blush easily, and progress to persistent redness in the center of the face that may gradually involve the cheeks, forehead, chin, and nose. It also may involve the ears, chest and back. As the disease progresses, small blood vessels and tiny pimples begin to appear on and around the reddened area; however, unlike acne, there are no blackheads.
back to top Back to Top


Scabies is caused by a tiny mite that has infested humans for at least 2,500 years. It is often hard to detect, and causes a fiercely, itchy skin condition. Dermatologists estimate that more than 300 million cases of scabies occur worldwide every year. The condition can strike anyone of any race or age, regardless of personal hygiene. The good news is that with better detection methods and treatments, scabies does not need to cause more than temporary distress.
back to top Back to Top


Scars result when the skin repairs wounds caused by accident, disease, or surgery. They are a natural part of the healing process. The more the skin is damaged and the longer it takes to heal, the greater the chance of a noticeable scar. Typically, a scar may appear redder and thicker at first, then gradually fade. Many actively healing scars that seem unsightly at three months may heal nicely if given more time. The way a scar forms is affected by an individual’s age and the location on the body or face. Younger skin makes strong repairs and tends to result in larger, thicker scars than does older skin. Skin over a jawbone is tighter than skin on the cheek and will make a scar easier to see. If a scar is indented or raised, irregular shadows will be seen, giving the skin an uneven appearance. A scar that crosses natural expression lines or is wider than a wrinkle, will be more apparent because it will not follow a natural pattern nor look like a naturally occurring line. Any one, or a combination of these factors may result in a scar that, although healthy, may be improved by dermatologic surgical treatment.
back to top Back to Top

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin disorder that can be easily treated. This condition is a red, scaly, itchy rash most commonly seen on the scalp, sides of the nose, eyebrows, eyelids, skin behind the ears, and middle of the chest. Other areas, such as the navel (belly button), buttocks, skin folds under the arms, axillary regions, breasts, and groin, may also be involved.
back to top Back to Top

Seborrheic Keratoses

Although Seborrheic Keratoses are often confused with warts, they are quite different. Seborrheic keratoses are non-cancerous growths of the outer layer of skin. There may be just one growth, or many which occur in clusters. They are usually brown, but can vary in color from light tan to black. They vary in size from a fraction of an inch in diameter to larger than a half-dollar. A main feature of seborrheic keratoses is their waxy, “pasted-on” or “stuck-on” look. They sometimes look like a dab of warm brown candle wax that has dropped onto the skin.
back to top Back to Top

Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common cancer of the skin. More than 250,000 new squamous cell carcinomas are diagnosed every year in the United States. Middle-aged and elderly people, especially those with fair complexions and frequent sun exposure, are most likely to be affected. The cancer develops in the outer layer of the skin (the epithelium). Some squamous cell carcinomas arise from small sandpaper-like lesions called solar (sun) or actinic keratosis. It is possible for squamous cell carcinoma to spread to other areas of the body; therefore, early treatment is important.
back to top Back to Top

Stasis Dermatitis

Stasis dermatitis is an eczematous process of the skin of the lower extremities which results from non-specific inflammation presumably induced by the leakage of serum secondary to venous hypertension. The disease is particularly common over the medial and anterior aspects of the shin and malleolar areas. When significant inflammation occurs, it can be accompanied by a secondary autosensitization dermatitis referred to as an “id”.
back to top Back to Top

Sun Burn

Sun Burn If skin is exposed to sunlight too long, redness may develop and increase for up to 24 hours. A severe sunburn causes skin tenderness, pain, swelling, and blistering. Additional symptoms like fever, chills, upset stomach, and confusion indicate a serious sunburn and require immediate medical attention.
back to top Back to Top

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen Effluvium – Illness, stress, and other factors can cause too many hairs to enter the resting (telogen) phase of the hair growth cycle, and it produces a dramatic increase in the amount of hair shed (effluvium), usually without bald patches.
back to top Back to Top

Tine Versicolor

Tinea versicolor is a common skin condition due to overgrowth of a skin surface yeast. This overgrowth results in uneven skin color and scaling that can be unsightly and sometimes itch. The yeast normally lives in the pores of the skin and thrives in oily areas such as the neck, upper chest, and back.
back to top Back to Top

Urticaria (hives)

Urticaria (hives) are localized, pale, itchy, pink wheals (swellings) that can burn or sting. They may occur singularly or in groups on any part of the skin; they are part of an allergic reaction and are very common.
back to top Back to Top


Vasculitis occurs because of damage to the blood vessels in the skin. This can appear as small red-purple spots or bumps on the lower legs. Occasionally, larger knots and ulcers can develop. Vasculitis may be hive-like or have small red or purple lines in the fingernail folds or on the tips of the fingers.
back to top Back to Top


The human papilloma virus (HPV) causes verruca, more commonly referred to as warts, are hyperkeratotic dome shaped papules or nodules located most commonly on the hands.
back to top Back to Top


Xerosis is dryness of the skin which may become rough, scaly, and eventually red, inflamed, and itchy.

author avatar
Dr. Timothy Jochen Medical Director, Contour Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Center
Dr. Jochen specializes in Mohs Surgery for skin cancer removal, facial rejuvenation including cosmetic laser technology, Botox® and facial fillers, soft tissue augmentation, leg and facial vein treatment, tumescent liposuction and hair restoration/transplants.
Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.