Glossary of Terms

Acne — a condition involving the skin of the face, neck, chest, and back in which plugged hair follicles lead to the formation of pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads. Cystic acne, which is more severe, develops when plugged follicles rupture to cause deep swelling and redness.

Actinic Keratoses — precancerous scaly pink patches on sun-exposed skin, including the face, scalp, and backs of the hands. The sandpaper-like surface is often easier to feel than to see. If left unattended, actinic keratoses may evolve into skin cancer.

Athlete’s Foot — a general term for fungal infections on the feet.

Basal Cell Carcinoma — the most common form of skin cancer, characterized by small, shiny, raised bumps on the skin that are fragile and often bleed; they arise from the excessive growth of cells just beneath the skin surface. These cancers increase slowly in size from a small pimple to large nodules that may bleed and form ulcers. Thought to be caused by sun exposure, these slow-growing cancers seldom cause death.

Boils — infections of hair follicles by certain bacteria.

Cellulitis — a skin infection produced by bacteria, leading to redness and swelling. Commonly, red streaks radiate from a site of previous skin injury toward nearby lymph glands.

Cherry Angiomas — small, smooth, cherry red bumps on the skin, most commonly on the chest, abdomen, and back. They consist of collections of blood vessels and appear most frequently after age 35. Although disfiguring, they do not become cancerous.

Cold Sores/Fever Blisters — tiny, clear, fluid-filled blisters that appear periodically on the face. They are the result of herpes simplex type 1 infections and may be activated by sunlight or fever.

Cysts — a deep lesion that is filled with pus, keratin, or other contents.

Dandruff — made up of small flakes of dead scalp skin. Dandruff occurs under circumstances in which the surface skin cells of the scalp grow unusually fast.

Dermatitis — a number of skin conditions characterized by inflammation of the skin.

Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) — usually begins in childhood and sometimes runs in families. It develops as itchy, thickened, fissured skin, most often in the folds of the arms and backs of the knees. It tends to come and go, and usually improves with age.

Folliculitis — a superficial infection of hair follicles caused by bacteria or fungus, characterized by small, white-headed pimples.

Herpes Simplex — includes herpes simplex type 1 (cold sores/fever blisters), and herpes simplex type 2 (genital herpes). This virus can present as grouped blisters and can recur.

Hives (Urticaria) — localized swellings of the skin or mucous membranes.

Impetigo — a contagious infection of the skin caused by bacteria. It is characterized by a yellow crust that covers red, moist, and weeping patches of skin. This infection is most commonly seen in children.

Jock Itch — an infection of the skin caused by fungi which results in itchy, red, moist, well-marked patches in the groin area.

Keloids — scars that grow excessively. They can occur after an operation, burn, vaccination, trauma, or even ear piercing.

Mohs Surgery — a microscopically controlled excision of a lesion where each bit of tissue removed is mapped and examined under the microscope to determine the site and extent of malignant cells before more tissue is removed.

Melanoma — the most serious of the three most common types of skin cancers because it often spreads without early intervention. Cancerous changes in the underlying skin cells that produce melanin (the skin coloring pigment) cause a malignant tumor to develop. This cancer can develop from a mole present since birth, a mole that develops later, or from normal-appearing skin. It runs in families, and individuals with lighter complexions are at greatest risk.

Molluscum Contagiosum — a common contagious viral infection of the skin characterized by tiny pearl-like projections with a core of white matter.

Poison Ivy Skin Allergy — the name given to the dermatitis resulting from exposure to the allergen (oleoresin) of the poison ivy, poison sumac, or poison oak plants. The allergic reaction is characterized by redness, blisters, and itching.

Port Wine Stain — the most common form of the vascular “birthmark,” is a red, blue, or purplish discoloration of the skin frequently seen on the face or neck, but also common on the trunk, arms, and legs.

Psoriasis — a common skin disease in which portions of the skin are covered with dry, red patches with silvery scales. Common sites are the trunk, knees, elbows, and scalp. The disease can be triggered by a variety of stresses to the body and is characterized by flare-ups and partial remissions.

Ringworm — a fungal infection showing as itchy, red, scaly, slightly raised, expanding rings on the trunk, face or groin area.

Rosacea — a chronic inflammation of the cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead. Pimples and pustules may also occur, and in some patients enlargement of the oil glands of the nose results in enlargement of the nose, or rhinophyma.

Skin Tag — a harmless, painless, skin-colored tumor that commonly protrudes from the skin of the neck or arm.

Squamous Cell Cancers — occur when underlying skin cells are damaged, leading to the development of a malignant tumor. A firm, fleshy, hard-surfaced lump develops and grows steadily. It sometimes looks like a wart, or sometimes like an ulcer that never heals completely. The lower lip, ears, and hands are common sites for this cancer.

Scleroderma — a progressive systemic disorder with associated thickening and tightening of the skin, especially on the arms, face, and hands, and resulting loss of flexibility.

Seborrhea — a chronic disorder in which inflammation occurs in those skin areas having the greatest numbers of oil glands, such as the scalp, sides of the nose, eyebrows, eyelids, skin behind the ears, and middle of the chest. The skin becomes red and covered by a yellowish scale, and it may or may not be itchy.

Shingles — caused by the herpes zoster virus and is characterized by pain or a tingling sensation in a limited area of one side of the face or torso. A red rash follows, with small, fluid-filled blisters.

Tinea Versicolor — a superficial fungal infection restricted to the upper layers of the skin.

Varicella — causes chicken pox and shingles. Shingles is a recurrence of the virus and can be associated with long term nerve irritation.

Varicose Veins — weakened, swollen, or twisted veins that often protrude from the skin.

Vasculitis — an inflammation of blood vessels which sometimes manifests itself on the skin as red or purple dots, usually most numerous on the legs.

Vitiligo — a condition in which pigment cells are destroyed, resulting in irregularly shaped white patches on the skin.

Warts — contagious viral infections of the outer layer of the skin. They can occur on any part of the skin, but appear most often on the hands, fingers, and on the soles of the foot.