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Describing a Skin Condition

How to describe a skin condition

A health care provider may ask you to describe your dermatological condition and its location. Here are some of the more common terms that may help you provide a more accurate description:


Thin, wrinkled

Blister or vesicle

Fluid-filled bump under or within the epidermis

Crust or scab

Formation of dried blood, plasma, or other skin fluid over a break in the skin


Deeply seated sac lesion that contains keratin and sebum


An erosion caused by scratching 

Hives or wheals

Pink or white localized swelling of the skin that is usually itchy


Skin that has become thickened, hardened, or leathery from chronic scratching


Flat, discolored spot

Nodule or papule

Solid, raised bumps. A nodule is greater than 1 cm and a papule is less than or equal to 1 cm. 

Raised bumps

Bumps that stick out above the skin surface


Flat, large discolored spot with smooth surface

Pustule (pimple)

Inflamed, elevated lesions that appear to contain pus


A buildup of dead skin cells that form flakes


Fibrous tissue that forms after a skin injury

Online Medical Reviewer: Berman, Kevin, MD, PhD
Online Medical Reviewer: Kolbus, Karin, RN, DNP, COHN-S
Date Last Reviewed: 4/28/2015
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