Southern Illinois Dermatology offers patients the latest procedures available to treat disorders of the skin, hair and nails. Following is a list of common dermatologic diagnoses and terms. For further information, please feel free to contact any of our locations. Additional information on dermatologic diagnosis may also be found through the American Academy of Dermatology at www.aad.org.
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Acne: Clogged 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.
Acne vulgaris: The medical term for common acne, which is characterized by the presence of one or more of the following: blackheads, whiteheads, papules and pustules.
Actinic Keratoses: A common, potentially serious skin condition that may be characterized by rough, red, scaly patches, crusts or sores. AKs are known as the early beginnings of skin cancer.
Age spots: Also called “liver spots.” Flat, brown areas usually found on the face, hands, and feet. They are associated with aging, but chronic sun exposure is a major cause. They are easily removed by a dermatologist.
Angioma: A tumor composed chiefly of blood vessels or lymphatic vessels.
Atopic eczema/dermatitis: The terms eczema or dermatitis are used to describe certain kinds of inflamed skin conditions including allergic contact dermatitis, seborrheic dermatitis, photoallergic dermatitis and stasis dermatitis. Eczema can be red, blistering, oozing, scaly, brownish, or thickened and usually itches. A special type is called atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema.
Athlete’s Foot: Athlete’s foot is a very common skin condition — many people will develop it at least once in their lives. It is more frequent among teenage and adult males, but may occur in women and in children under the age of 12. Athlete’s foot can be easily treated, but may recur in susceptible individuals.
Atypical nevus: (Also called a dysplastic nevus): A benign growth that may share some of the clinical or microscopic features of melanoma, but is not a melanoma or any other form of cancer. However, the presence of atypical nevi may increase the risk of developing a melanoma, or be a marker for someone who is at risk of developing melanoma.
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.
Biopsy: Biopsy is removal of a portion of skin for microscopic examination to determine a diagnosis.
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.
Cryosurgery: Cryosurgery is a procedure utilizing cryogenic agents to treat a variety of cutaneous diseases. Single or multiple lesions on all areas of the body can be eradicated with cryosurgery. Freezing temperatures of a cryogenic agent applied directly or indirectly to the skin cause local destruction of tissue. Certain conditions may require multiple or repeated treatments.
Dermatitis: Inflammation of the skin.
Dermatologic Surgery: Deals with the diagnosis and treatment of medically necessary and cosmetic conditions of the skin, hair, nails, veins, mucous membranes and adjacent tissues by various surgical, reconstructive, cosmetic and non-surgical methods. This includes laser surgery, cryosurgery, chemical surgery, aspirational surgery and excisional surgery. The purpose of dermatologic surgery is to repair and/or improve the function and cosmetic appearance of skin tissue.
Dermis: The middle layer of the skin, below the epidermis and above subcutaneous tissue. It is composed of connective tissue in which is embedded hair follicles, sweat glands, superficial and deeper blood vessels, and nerve fibers.
Dysplastic: Alteration in size, shape and organization of cells. A dysplastic nevus is unusual-looking because of its size (5 millimeters diameter or larger), and irregular, non-uniform, and/or very dark pigmentation, with or without indistinct or irregular margins.
Eczema: 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 skin and usually itches. A special type is called atopic dermatitis or atopic eczema.
Epidermis: The outermost layer of skin. The epidermis has several active zones of skin cells, including cells that participate in immune reactions. Many eczematous skin conditions are initiated in the epidermis.
Exfoliation: Peeling and sloughing off of the skin’s tissue cells.
Genital warts: Genital warts, also known as venereal warts or condylomata acuminata, are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). More than 80 types of HPV are known to exist and quite a few of these types cause genital warts, e.g. HPV types 6 and 11. Other HPV types cause common warts on the hands, feet, or elsewhere on the body. Other types (HPV types 16 and 18) can cause cancer of the cervix, the external genital skin, or the anus. Therefore, female partners of affected persons are recommended to see their gynecologist for occult infection. The HPV types that cause genital warts, however, very rarely cause cancer. Although genital warts are usually sexually transmitted, they can infrequently be seen in infants who have been delivered vaginally to mothers with HPV in their genital tracts.
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.
Halo Nevus: A halo mole (or halo nevus) is a mole with a white ring, or halo, around it. Halo moles are not uncommon and are usually seen in children or young adults.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.
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.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.
Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating): Hyperhidrosis is a chronic medical disorder that results in the production of excessive sweat. A recent study determined that the condition – once thought to be rare – actually affects approximately 2.8 percent of the U.S. population, or 7.8 million people. Even more compelling, one out of three people surveyed with the condition said their sweating was intolerable or barely tolerable. Many sufferers said they were depressed and frustrated with daily activities, and they experienced interference with work and romance and had difficulty meeting people.
Ichthyosis: Ichthyosis is the name of a rare genetic skin disease (there are actually several different types of ichthyosis) which causes the formation of dry, fish-like scales on the skin’s surface. Since it’s an inherited disease, it isn’t contagious–you can’t “catch” it. Ichthyosis causes the skin to build up and scale, causing it to be extremely dry, amongst other problems. The condition often begins in early childhood and is usually lifelong.
Impetigo: Impetigo is a skin infection that is generally caused by one of two bacteria: Group A streptococcus or Staphylococcus aureus. Impetigo usually affects preschool and school-age children, especially in the summer months. A child may be more likely to develop impetigo if his/her skin has already been irritated or injured by other skin problems, such as eczema, poison ivy, insect bites, or skin allergy to soap or makeup.
Keloid: Large raised scar resulting from excessive growth of fibrous tissue that spreads beyond the size of the original wound.
Lentigo: a small brownish spot (of the pigment melanin) on the skin.
Lentigo maligna melanoma: A melanoma characterized by small brownish spots on the skin. Lentigo maligna melanoma occurs in about 5% of malignant melanoma cases, usually in the elderly. It is most common in sun damaged skin on the head, neck, and arms.Lesion: An abnormal change in structure of an organ or part due to injury or disease.
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.
Lipoatrophy: Loss of fat from underneath the skin. Common causes are aging and disease.
Macule: A flat spot or patch of skin that is not the same color as the surrounding skin.
Malignant : When referring to cancer, malignant means the ability to grow and spread in an uncontrolled manner beyond the local confines of the tumor. Its opposite, “benign,” refers to a growth that is non-cancerous.
Melanoma: 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.
Melasma: 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.
Metastasis: The spreading of disease from one part of the body to another part. Melanoma metastasizes most often to lymph nodes, liver, abdomen, lungs, bone, skin, heart, and brain.
Moles: Everyone has moles (also known as “nevi”), sometimes 40 or more. Most people think of a mole as a dark brown spot, but moles have a wide range of appearance. They can be raised from the skin and very noticeable, they may contain dark hairs, or they may be dangerous. Moles can appear anywhere on the skin, alone or in groups. They are usually brown in color and can be various sizes and shapes. The brown color is caused by melanocytes, special cells that produce the pigment melanin. Moles probably are determined before a person is born. Most appear during the first 20 years of a person’s life, although some may not appear until later in life. Sun exposure increases the number of moles. Each mole has its own growth pattern. At first, moles are flat and tan, pink, brown or black in color, like a freckle. Over time, they usually enlarge and some develop hairs. As the years pass, moles usually change slowly, becoming more raised and lighter in color. Some will not change at all. Most moles will slowly disappear, seeming to fade away. Others will become raised so far from the skin that they may develop a small “stalk” and eventually fall off or are rubbed off. This is the typical life cycle of the common mole. These changes occur slowly since the life cycle of the average mole is about 50 years. Moles may darken, with exposure to the sun. During the teen years, with birth control pills and pregnancy, moles often get darker and larger and new ones may appear.
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.
Mycosis: Infection with or disease caused by a fungus.
Nevus: Small, dark, sometimes raised growth on human skin. Also called a mole.
Nodule: An elevated lesion which is located deep in the cutis. The skin over it can be easily and visibly removed.
Nodular melanoma: Nodular melanoma is the most rapidly growing and aggressive variant of malignant melanoma, accounting for about 15% of malignant melanoma cases. It is characterized by a vertical growth phase and the absence of a radial growth phase. Typically, it arises on apparently normal skin, has relatively little melanin and a rich blood supply. Ulceration is common.
Onychomycosis: 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 daily 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.
Papules: Pink bumps on the skin.
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.
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.
Pityriasis versicolor: Pityriasis (tinea) versicolor is a superficial infection of the stratum corneum by the yeast Malassezia furfur (syn. Pityrosporum orbiculare). This yeast is part of the normal cutaneous flora. Pityriasis (tinea) versicolor is characterized by hyperpigmented and hypopigmented scaly patches, primarily on the trunk and proximal extremities. It is a common disorder that affects people of all age groups, but is most commonly seen in adults. Infants and children can also be affected, but often have an atypical presentation. This disease is typically worse in geographic areas with tropical ambient temperatures. Multiple factors are known to contribute to its pathogenesis.
Plaque psoriasis:Psoriasis characterized by red, silvery-white, scaly skin lesions (most common variety of psoriasis).
Precursor lesion: A lesion that has the potential to develop into a melanoma. Precursor lesions include dysplastic nevi, benign compound nevi, small and large congenital nevomelanocytic nevi, and lentigo maligna.
Primary cutaneous melanoma: Any primary melanoma lesion, regardless of tumor thickness, in patients without clinical or histological evidence of regional or distant metastatic disease.
Pruritus: 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.
Psoriasis: 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.
Pustule: An inflammatory comedo that resembles a whitehead with a ring of redness around it. A pus-filled pimple.
PUVA: The acronym for Psoralen + ultraviolet light A. PUVA is a type of phototherapy used in treatment of psoriasis. Treatment requires the patient to ingest, topically apply, or bathe in a medication called psoralen before being exposed to UVA rays.
Ringworm (tinea): Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a fungus. Ringworm can affect skin on your body (tinea corporis), scalp (tinea capitis), groin area (tinea cruris, also called jock itch), or feet (tinea pedis, also called athlete’s foot).
Rosacea: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.
Scabies: 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.
Sebaceous glands: Glands in the skin that produce an oily substance called sebum–these glands are the sites of acne lesions. Sebaceous glands are attached to hair follicles and are found mostly on the face, neck, back and chest.
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.
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.
Skin cancer: 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. There are three main forms of skin cancer — Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma and Melanoma. Basal Cell and Squamous Cell cancers are curable. Melanoma is also completely curable when detected early, but can be fatal if allowed to progress and spread. 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 describes melanocytes that become cancerous, grow, and invade other tissues.
Squamous cell carcinoma: Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most common cancer of the skin. Squamous cell carcinoma is a tumor that arises in the outer layer of the skin (the epithelium). More than 250,000 new SCCs are diagnosed every year in the U.S. Middle-aged and elderly persons, especially those with fair complexions and frequent sun exposure, are most likely to be affected. If treated in a timely manner, it is uncommon for skin squamous cell carcinoma to spread to other areas of the body. Squamous cell carcinomas often arise from small sandpaper-like growths called solar or actinic keratoses.
Telangiectasia: An abnormal dilation of capillary vessels and arterioles that often forms an angioma.
Tinea corporis: Fungus affecting the skin of the trunk and extremities, characterized by both inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions.
Tinea cruris: Fungus infections affecting the proximal medial thighs and buttocks, characterized by inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions often with invasion of hair follicles; cutaneous candidiasis in this region can mimic dermatophytic infection, but is usually associated with scrotal lesions.
Tinea faciei: Fungus affecting the non-beard areas of the face, characterized by inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions.
Tinea manuum: Fungus affecting the interdigital and palmar surfaces of one or both palms; the differential diagnosis includes infection caused by nondermatophyte fungi.
Tinea pedis: Fungus affecting the plantar surface and interdigital spaces of the foot, characterized by both inflammatory and non-inflammatory lesions; the differential diagnosis includes infection by nondermatophyte fungi such as S. hyalinum and S. dimidiatum (H. toruloidea).
Tinea 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.
Urticaria (hives): Hives , or “wheals”, are pale red swellings of skin that occur in groups on any part of the skin. Urticaria is the medical word for hives. Each hive lasts a few hours before fading without a trace. New areas may develop as old areas fade. They can vary in size from as small as a pencil eraser to as large as a dinner plate and may join together to form larger swellings. Hives usually are itchy, but may also burn or sting. Hives are formed by blood plasma leaking out of small blood vessels in the skin. This is caused by the release of a chemical called histamine. Histamine is released from cells called “mast cells” that lie along the blood vessels in the skin. Allergic reactions, chemicals in foods, or medications can cause histamine release. Sometimes it’s impossible to find out why hives are forming. Hives are very common – 10-20 percent of the population will have at least one episode in their lifetime. Most episodes of hives disappear quickly in a few days to a few weeks. Occasionally, a person will continue to have hives for many years.
Verruca: A wart or warty skin lesion.
Vitiligo: Vitiligo is a skin condition resulting from loss of pigment which produces white patches. Any part of the body may be affected. Usually both sides of the body are affected. Common areas of involvement are the face, lips, hands, arms, legs, and genital areas.Vitiligo affects one or two of every 100 people. About half the people who develop it do so before the age of 20; about one–fifth have a family member with this condition. It may be an autoimmune process (the body makes antibodies to its own pigment cells). Most people with vitiligo are in good general health, although vitiligo may occur with other autoimmune diseases such as thyroid disease.
Warts: Warts are benign tumors that commonly involve the skin and other epithelial tissues. The etiologic agents for these infections are a class of double-stranded DNA viruses called papillomaviruses. Warts are generally classified by their clinical features and morphology (e.g., common, flat, filiform) or by location (e.g., genital, plantar, respiratory papillomatosis).