Common Dermatology Terms You Should Know | Biodermis

Common Dermatology Terms You Should Know |

Terminology in the field of dermatology is used to describe functions, aspects, and problems associated with the skin. The skin is the largest organ in the human body responsible for a variety of regulative and protective functions. Throughout the course of a lifetime, from childhood to adulthood, a person’s skin can go through a number of changes that require treatment by a dermatologist. If you do require a visit to your dermatologist, there is a chance you will hear a number of terms that you are unfamiliar with. In this article, we will go over some of the most common dermatology terms so that you can be informed prior to your trip to the doctor.

Abscess—a localized pocket of closed tissue that contains pus. Abscesses appear as red or discolored lumps on the skin that are marked by swollenness and pain. They usually occur when an infection occurs in the skin and the body sends white blood cells to attack the infection. The white blood cells mix with the damaged tissue and germs, creating a pocket of clear or white liquid called pus. Treatments offered by a dermatologist include antibiotics or incision and drainage of the abscess.

Atypical—a vague term that simply means “unusual.” A dermatologist or physician may refer to a medical concern as atypical when they are unsure of the cause, severity, or nature of the problem. In dermatology, a spot, lump or mole can be called atypical when the doctor suspects the presence of cancer that requires diagnosis. But don’t be alarmed when you hear this term because it is nonspecific and may turn out to be nothing to worry about.  

Metastatic—this occurs when cancer cells can spread from one part of the body to another part. The cells travel through lymph or blood vessels to grow into tumors in some distant organ of area of the body. Cancer cells that travel through blood vessels are called hematogenous. The cells that travel through lymph vessels are known as lymphogenous. 

Neoplasm—refers to a new growth of cells in the body that are no longer controlled by normal physiologic functions. The growth of cells can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Neoplasms that are benign can be surgically removed, and the patient is usually never bothered by them again. Neoplasms that are malignant can be classified a local invasion of tissues/organs or metastasis, which invade other parts of the body.

Tumor—A mass or lump of tissue that can be felt with the hand or seen with the eye. A tumor can be classified as a neoplasm, hyperplasia (enlargement of tissue), distention (internal pressure), swelling, or anything that causes a localized increase in mass or volume. Not all tumors are cancerous, and many of them can be easily removed by surgical intervention.

Keloids and hypertrophic scars—scar formations that are characterized by a buildup of collagen produced during the stages of wound healing. Keloids are marked by a raised overgrowth of scar tissue that extends beyond the initial boundaries of the wound. These scars can be purple/red and painful or itchy. Hypertrophic scars are raised and red/pink in appearance but do not extend past the border of the wound. Both scar types can be the result of surgery and injury. They can be treated using medical-grade silicone gel.     

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