It can be easy to get very worried when we see a mark, spot or mole on our skin and assume that it might be a type of skin cancer. But in the vast majority of cases, a skin lesion is nothing more than an annoying skin condition that in itself is not harmful and can probably be easily treated. It can be really helpful to compare these skin lesion images with images of skin cancer to see the difference. It doesn’t take the place of getting a proper diagnosis from a doctor, but may make you worry a little less.
What causes a skin lesion?
Most skin lesions are caused by an infection on the skin which has led to the skin becoming irritated. These types of lesions can be transmitted as part of a virus or infection, while others are caused by allergic reactions or you can even be born with them. You may need antibiotics to help infections to heal or topical creams such as steroids may calm itchy skin – but in general most lesions of these types will disappear on their own or with doctors treatment.
Types of skin lesions
There are all kinds of skin lesions and most of them you will be familiar with such as acne, spots and blisters. But some may be a little more unusual and may need to be compared to images of skin cancer to rule them out.
- Macule – A small spot that looks a little like a mole. They are often brown, red or white and small. A skin cancer mole will usually be larger and multicoloured.
- Nodule – This is a raised solid lesion with a uniform shape unlike melanomas which are not symmetrical.
- Psoriasis – You may get papules which cluster together and cause rough patches. Skin cancers tend to be individual spots or moles.
- Rashes – All kinds of rashes exist including eczema and dermatitis. These may be irritating and unsightly but are not cancerous as they do not fit any of the criteria for melanomas.
- Secondary lesions – These are skin lesions that have formed as the result of an injury or where the skin has broken due to spots or rashes. They may be crusty, scaly or bleeding. Skin cancers may have similar characteristics – but cannot be attributed to obvious causes such as injury.
- Hereditary lesions – You may be born with certain moles, freckles or skin disorders which are normal for you and will pose no ill effects. Skin cancers come up and change suddenly.
Comparing images of skin lesions
When looking at photos of melanomas and comparing them to your own skin lesions you will instantly notice that skin lesions such as those mentioned above are often red in colour (due to the infection and inflammation), are symmetrical in shape, are part of a pattern of skin irritation or they are easily explained. Melanomas will be individual moles, multi-coloured or dark black, asymmetrical, with ragged borders and may be raised, itchy or bleeding.
Always make sure you go to a doctor if you are at all concerned.