Without doubt, the most common question we’re asked is – what is this thing on my skin? In this article we’ll show you some examples of four different types of lesion so that you can have a head start the next time you discuss your skin with your doctor.
Different types of lesion often look alike
The problem is simple – lots of different skin conditions look similar. Your GP’s time is valuable, so you want to help by learning what you can before making an appointment. And it’s important to know what you’re looking at, as the factors that could cause a skin tag or a mole to increase in size over time are different.
A quick search of Google will give you lots of pointers, but it’s hard to know the source is reliable. Over time we’re going to add to the library of photos on this page to show you typical examples of each. We can’t cover every variety we’ve ever treated, but it will give you a start.
Please note: We’re not going to be dealing with skin cancer or other possible malignant conditions here. If you think you may have such a condition, please see a Doctor straight away. We offer a non-profit histology service for any patient whose skin our Doctors or Nurses have concerns over.
Different terms don’t all mean the same thing
Another common reason that patients aren’t well informed about their skin is that in conversation, people use lots of the medical terms interchangeably. It’s easy to see how people come to think that a mole, a cyst and a wart are all three different names for the same thing.
Typical photos of different lesions
We’re starting this page with four of our most common types of lesion. Want us to add more? Please drop us a comment in the box at the end of the page.
All of these photos are of patients who went on to be treated at one of our clinics. We carry out hundreds of procedures each month, and there’s lots of variety in appearance, but these are typical of each type of lesion.
Moles come in many different sizes and colours. Often they’re raised from the skin, but sometimes they’re completely flat. This is the most common condition we encounter.
Where moles grow outside the skin, cysts form under it. They are usually firm to the touch, more so than lipoma, which can look similar when they’re small.
Skin tags usually grow away from the skin rather than spreading out on it like moles. Whereas moles often increase in size because of sunlight exposure, skin tags are more likely to be affected by repeated friction such as chafing, or sometimes by hormone changes in the body.
A seborrhoeic keratosis will often start out skin-coloured and become more visible and dark over time. Compared to moles, they look more like they’re attached to the skin and tend to have a rougher surface.
Don’t diagnose yourself – start a discussion
Hopefully this guide has helped you to get started but please, don’t use it to diagnose your own skin conditions.
Now that you’ve seen some typical examples, the next step is to use what you’ve learned to do some more reading and have a focused conversation with your Doctor. They may be impressed that you know a cyst from a mole! Or they may need to correct you and put your mind at ease.
The NHS will not typically treat these types of condition without a clear medical need, so you may also want to seek private help if you’re keen to have something removed from your skin.
We offer a free Online Consultation process to anyone who is considering treatment at one of our North and West Yorkshire clinics.
This is a quick and discreet way to get a medical opinion on your treatment options. For most of our patients, it saves them from having to come in for an in-clinic consultation. This means they can book straight in for a procedure, knowing that one of our Doctors or specialist Surgical Nurses has already assessed them and arranged the appropriate treatment.
Let us know in the box below if you’d like us to add a particular type of skin condition to this guide.