Skin Problems and Treatments: Causes of Skin Lesions

Reviewed on 4/12/2021

Allergic Eczema

Topical steroids may help treat skin lesions due to eczema or atopic dermatitis.

Also called atopic dermatitis, allergic eczema usually starts when you're a kid. It tends to show up in creases like your elbow, knee, or wrists, but can affect other places such as your scalp or cheeks. The patches are red, scaly, and might itch. The doctor can give you steroid or other types of cream to treat it. They can also teach you habits to help prevent and manage the symptoms.


Acne may be the result of hormones, family history and certain medications.

When oil and dead skin cells build up and clog your pores, you get the red, white, or black bumps of acne. You're more likely to get it as a teen or young adult. Hormones, family history, and certain medications cause it. Picking at it, eating certain foods, stress, and your environment can make it worse. Treatments include medications and sometimes laser or light therapy.

Skin Cancer

Have skin lesions that don't heal or change appearance looked at by a doctor.

This condition can have many forms. Get your doctor to look at open sores that don't heal, red or irritated patches, shiny bumps, small pink growths, or scar-like spots, especially if they're new, or grow and change. They're most likely to show up in places that see the sun often, like your face, neck, ears, scalp, chest, and back.

Herpes Simplex

Blisters may appear on the genitals or mouth as a result of infection with the herpes simplex virus.

This condition results from a virus. It causes blisters on your mouth (you may hear them called cold sores or fever blisters). You can also get them on your genital area. They can be painful and filled with fluid. The virus is contagious. You can get it from kissing or oral sex. Your doctor can treat it with antiviral oral medications. Anti-inflammatories can treat your symptoms.

Nummular Eczema

Red coin-shaped lesions that itch and burn may be due to nummular eczema.

This type of eczema is usually coin-shaped, red, pinkish, or brown. It may ooze, itch, or burn. It usually shows up on your arms, legs, torso, or hands. Anyone can get it, but men tend to have it more than women. Your doctor may treat it with strong corticosteroids and an antibiotic.

Actinic Keratosis

Actinic keratosis are skin lesions that appear due to the sun and they may be precancerous.

Years of sun exposure can lead to rough, scaly patches on your face, ears, forearms, scalp, neck, or the backs of your hands. They usually show up after age 40. They have a small chance of turning into skin cancer. Your doctor can treat them with medication or remove them by freezing or scraping them away.


Impetigo causes crusty lesions on the skin and it is contagious.

These red sores near the nose and mouth and on hands and feet develop a honey-colored crust. They're most common in kids and babies. They typically ooze and then crust over. You can spread impetigo to other people if you have it. Your doctor will treat it with antibiotic cream.


Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes a buildup of rough, scaly skin.

This condition causes rough, scaly, raised patches called plaques on your skin. It's an autoimmune disease you get when your immune system overacts. Your skin cells pile up instead of shedding. Symptoms usually show up between ages 15 and 25. Your doctor will treat it with topical therapies you put on your skin, medications you take by mouth or as a shot, or light therapy.


Scabies is a skin condition caused by skin mites that burrow into the skin.

Tiny mites called Sarcoptes scabiei can burrow into your skin and cause itchy, small, red bumps, usually in the folds of your skin. You can get it by sharing bedding or clothing with someone who has scabies. Prescription creams can treat it, or you may need to take a pill.

Contact Dermatitis

Makeup, hair dye, metals, soaps, dyes and plants may trigger contact dermatitis.

Some makeups, hair dyes, metals, dyes, soaps, or plants like poison ivy can irritate and inflame your skin. You may get blisters and itch in the spot that touched the irritating substance or allergen. Topical steroids can help clear it up. You may need oral medications or a shot to take care of severe rashes.

Skin Problems and Treatments: Causes of Skin Lesions

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