Skin lesions on the face: most common types

Skin lesions are a broad term referring to any abnormality on your skin. The Medical Dictionary defines a skin lesion as a superficial growth or patch of the skin that does not resemble the area surrounding it. A skin lesion can be a rash, mole, wart, cyst, blister, bump, discoloration or any other change that you may notice on your skin. It may be a result of something as simple as a scrape or cut or as serious as a pre-cancerous mole or mark.
Skin lesions on the face

Table of Contents

Please be aware that this article contains images of skin diseases.

Skin lesions can often worry you, especially when they appear on your face, where they are mostly identifiable. In this post, we list the most typical skin lesions on the face with their common characteristics to help you identify them.

Worried about your skin lesions? Use SkinVision to check your skin and get instant risk indication.

Dermatosis papulosa nigra

Dermatosis paulosa nigra is a condition that occurs mainly in darker skin types and usually starts to form in adolescence. The lesions are small, darkly pigmented papules that are harmless and generally don’t require treatment.

Skin lesions on the face | SkinVision blog
Dermatosis papulosa nigra

Common characteristics:
·  It appears mainly on cheeks and foreheads
·  It often occurs in multiples
·  This lesion has a smooth surface
·  It appears most likely in an old age

Solar lentigo

Solar lentigos, also known as “sun spots” or “age spots,” are non-cancerous dark marks or patches on the skin caused by sun damage. Although no treatment is required, patients are often at an increased risk for skin cancer and need to exercise precaution in the sun.

Solar lentigo picture
Example picture of solar lentigo

Common characteristics:
·  They consist of dark flat spots or patches
·  They usually appear on the face, arms, and shoulders
·  They can clump together and range in size from approximately the size of a freckle to 13 millimeters

Sebaceous hyperplasia

Sebaceous hyperplasia is a skin condition that occurs when sebaceous gland on the skin is enlarged.

Sebaceous hyperplasia
Sebaceous hyperplasia

Common characteristics:
·  It appears as small, skin-colored to yellow papules with a central indent
·  These papules often occur on the forehead and central face
·  They can often resemble basal cell carcinoma, but they rarely bleed or crust
·  Removal is not necessary, unless for cosmetic reasons

Milia: tiny epidermoid cysts

Milia or tiny epidermoid cysts is a condition where small 1-2 mm white to yellow papules occur underneath the surface of the skin.

Milia: tiny epidermoid cysts
Milia: tiny epidermoid cysts

Common characteristics:
·  These cysts can occur in all ages
·  They can be extracted without scarring
·  They are fixed and long-lasting
·  They often occur on the cheeks, eyelids, forehead, and genitalia.

Naevi (moles)

Naevi, the medical term for moles, are common raised or flat spots that occur on the skin genetically and as a result of sun exposure. They form when skin cells called melanocyte cells grow in a group rather than individually. Most moles are benign, but they can also develop into skin cancer.

Naevi (moles)
Naevi (moles)

Harmless moles will have:
·  neat edges
·  a smooth or dome-like shape
·  diameter ¼ inch (6 mm)
·  the same shape, size or color over time.

Cancerous moles have a few common warning signs. Look for these indicators that your mole may be cancerous:

·  A change in size (getting larger)
·  A change in shape (especially with irregular edges)
·  A change in colour (especially getting darker or exhibiting multiple shades)
·  A loss of symmetry (common moles will be perfectly round or oval and are usually symmetrical)
·  Itchiness, pain or bleeding (maybe even forming a scab)
·  Crustiness
·  Inflammation
·  Exhibiting three different shades of brown or black
·  A change in elevation (thickening or raising of a flat mole)

Read More: Early melanoma symptoms and how to spot them

Capillary Haemangiomas

Capillary Haemangiomas, also known as “strawberry birthmarks,” are benign lesions caused by a clumping of tiny blood vessels. They usually appear at six months of life and begin to fade between the age of 12 and 15 months.

Capillary Haemangiomas
Capillary Haemangiomas

Common Characteristics:
·  The skin is red and lumpy
·  This lesion grows rapidly before slowly fading
·  It is found more commonly in females than in males
·  Doctors usually allow them to disappear on their own


A papilloma is a wart-like growth that is usually benign but can sometimes be cancerous. Most papillomas are caused by one of 150 human papillomaviruses (HPVs).


Common Characteristics:
·  It typically occurs on the genitals, mouth, eyes, and throat
·  It can appear as a clumping of bumps on the skin that can be painless or painful
·  It can look like flat warts
·  It can be rough or smooth
·  Some strains of HPVs can cause cervical cancer in women

Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic Keratosis, sometimes called senile wart, is a non-cancerous condition that occurs as a light brown, black or tan growth on the surface of the skin. These are usually harmless but may sometimes get irritated or be aesthetically unappealing. They can be removed if desired.

Seborrheic Keratosis
Seborrheic Keratosis

Common characteristics:
·  The skin is slightly elevated, waxy, and scaly
Seborrheic Keratosis can occur in all areas of the body, except for the palms and soles
·  It often occurs later in life and in multiples
·  It often has a stuck, “pasted on” appearance


A fibroma is a tumor-like growth made up of fibrous connective tissue. It’s also called a fibroid or fibroid tumor. Such tumors are often found on the feet, mouth nose or cheek.


Common characteristics:
·  The most common type of fibroma is an angiofibroma, which appears as small fibrous papules on the nose and cheeks
·  This type of lesion appears as a lump that is firm to the touch
·  It can be itchy or sensitive.

Squamous cell carcinoma

Repeated sun exposure over time usually causes squamous cell carcinoma. This condition is a slow-developing skin cancer that can spread to other areas of the skin, although it is still considered unlikely to spread widely.

Squamous cell carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma

Common characteristics:

·  It consists of wart-like bumps that often have crusted surfaces
·  It forms rough scaly patches that may bleed
·  It can form an open sore that bleeds or develops a crust
·  It appears as red, dome-like nodules

Images from the American Academy of Dermatology

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