Describing and defining skin lesions is a complicated business, and something that most doctors are not very good at!
There are a wide variety of terms used to describe skin lesions. In the days of smartphones, and quickly being able to send a picture to a colleague for assessment of a rash, this is perhaps less important than it used to be, but it is still useful to know some of the more common terms.
I find it helps to understand not only what the term describes, but the process that is giving rise to this type of rash, and I have summarised some of the terms below.
Types of rash
It may also help to try and split dermatological diagnoses into 7 types, as per Professor Robin Marks:
- Herpes simplex
- Chicken pox
- Pityriasis rosea
- Viral rash – “viral exanthem”
- Pityriasis Versicolor
- Sun-related skin cancers
- Drug-related eruptions
Location and timing
- Where is the rash?
- When did it start?
- Is it itchy?
- Have you taken any medication recently?
- [Has the appearance of the rash been changed by treatment?]
- Does anybody you know have a similar rash?
- Have you got a history of any rashes or anything similar?
- Have you changed washing powder / soap / shower gel / skin products recently?
- What do you do for work?
- Murtagh’s General Practice. 6th Ed. (2015) John Murtagh, Jill Rosenblatt
- Oxford Handbook of General Practice. 3rd Ed. (2010) Simon, C., Everitt, H., van Drop, F.
- Beers, MH., Porter RS., Jones, TV., Kaplan JL., Berkwits, M. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy