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It’s probably something you don’t want to talk about because it’s embarrassing. You’d prefer it if your skin was clear without any unsightly marks on it. But you needn’t suffer in silence. The patches you’re seeing are skin lesions. Fortunately, there are simple ways to identify and treat them so that you can be free of the anxiety of imperfect skin.
What are Lesions?
A skin lesion is a generic term that describes some type of abnormality. It can simply be a discoloration of your skin. The term also includes rashes, bumps, or rough patches that can occur anywhere on your body. They may exist in only one place or all over your skin. Depending on the underlying cause, they may or may not be painful or itchy.
Lesions on skin only identify the outward symptoms of what you’re seeing. You’ll need to find the cause so that you get rid of them once and for all. The process begins by learning what kind of lesion you have.
Different Kinds of Lesions
There are numerous types of skin lesion. The key to identification is its outward appearance and other accompanying symptoms if they exist. Many are harmless and may just be open sores from an injury. These skin lesions will usually resolve on their own without any medical treatment other than keeping them clean.
Others will show symptoms of inflammation such as redness, a warm sensation, or swelling. It is a normal process that occurs in your body to fight infections or remove dead cells following an injury. These skin sores may seem more serious especially if you’re experiencing any pain. You may see them at the site of localized conditions affect the skin or hair follicles.
Other causes are skin disorders such as eczema or psoriasis. They may also appear because of injury whether from a cut or a sunburn. In these cases, there is cell damage which causes the discoloration and change in appearance.
Lesions can occur at any time in your life. They may appear following a bout of acne in your teenage years as scar indicating a past skin issue. They may also develop as you age in the form of freckles or moles. Typically, their appearance is normal and is not of any major concern. However, skin lesions are also a symptom of more serious conditions.
Benign v. Malignant Lesions
Most skin lesions are benign and present no health risk. However, some may be precursors or malignant lesions. To determine its severity, your doctor will begin with a physical examination of the site. She will look at its appearance and damage to the skin layers to determine if a biopsy is necessary for a definitive diagnosis.
Even if the lesion is benign, it still behooves you to monitor its condition for any changes that occur. Genetic or environmental triggers can cause a harmless sore to become cancerous. The American Academy of Dermatology warns that skin cancer is the most common form, affecting about one in five Americans. It’s essential to know how to recognize the symptoms.
Signs a Lesion May Be Malignant
Changes in a lesion of the skin are the telltale signs of a malignant condition. That’s why it’s vital that you regularly examine any abnormalities you find on your skin. As serious as it is, some types of skin cancer are easily treated specially if it is caught early.
Changes in the size of a lesion may raise a red flag about a possibility of cancer. Remember, the term cancer describes abnormal and uncontrollable cell growth. That means that a lesion that gets larger or covers a wider area may be a site of an active cancer. You may see a noticeable change in the size that may occur quickly or relatively slow.
The lesion may also morph into different shapes or develop irregular edges. The normal checks and balances that govern cell growth don’t exist with cancer. That’s why a cancerous lesion may appear noticeably odd.
Lesions on the skin may change in physical ways such as the development of crustiness or hardness. The skin scabbing is another symptom of unchecked cell growth.
Your body may react to cancer as if it were a pathogen. You may notice symptoms of inflammation at the site of the abnormal growth. Just like a skin infection, it may feel hot and painful to the touch.
A lesion may also change colors and appear like a bruise. These symptoms may be a sign of inflammation or impacts to other tissues under the skin.
Raising or Flattening
Changes in the lesion may cause physical changes too. You may detect a raised area at the site because of cells pushing up underneath it. Likewise, changes to the surrounding cells may make it appear flattened.
Treatment for Skin Lesions
Treatment, of course, depends on the skin lesion causes. That’s why it’s essential to consult your doctor whenever you notice anything unusual. Many noninvasive methods exist which are effective for quick relief of benign lesions. More aggressive causes may call for more radical options.
Topical corticosteroids are a common way for how to treat skin lesions. These products relieve the symptoms of inflammation such as itching and swelling that make them so uncomfortable. However, it’s important to know what causes lesions. Some treatments are less effective for some conditions. You may find they work well for issues like poison ivy, other not so much.
If you’re experiencing pain with the lesions, you may find some relief with other topical ointments such as capsaicin. These options will address the symptoms but not the cause of your skin issue.
Light therapy offers another potential treatment for lesions caused by skin conditions such as psoriasis. It can relieve the discomfort caused by symptoms of inflammation. It may also provide a means to treat precancerous conditions by slowing cell growth.
Sometimes, they just won’t go away leaving you with removing skin lesions as your best course of action. This option can bring immediate relief especially if your lesion skin causes you stress or anxiety. It is an outpatient procedure. Depending on the lesion, your doctor may use freezing, burning, or cutting. While there is some pain, scarring is less likely.
Home Remedies for Skin Lesions
There are also some home treatments you can try to reduce the size and appearance of lesions. The effectiveness varies. But if you don’t see relief in a reasonable amount of time, consult your doctor to try another course of action.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is a popular home remedy that many people use for a variety of conditions that go beyond lesions. The premise is simple. ACV has a pH of around 4.5. Applying it to the site of a lesion creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria and fungus. It works in a similar way to topical antiseptics if a sore is the cause of your lesions.
Dab a small amount of ACV onto the lesion using a sterile cotton ball. It will sting if it is an open sore. You can apply it several times a day until you notice active healing is underway. You needn’t worry about the vinegar smell. It will dissipate quickly once the liquid dries. Discontinue using immediately if you see any skin irritation develop.
Castor oil has a long history of use in a variety of applications including use in soaps for its lubricating properties. If your lesions are rough with hardened skin, you may find it a good choice for softening your skin. You can apply a small amount to the surrounding area several times a day, making sure to work it into the skin.
It is a very thick liquid compared to other oils, so you should use only a small amount. You should avoid using it on open sores to avoid increasing the risk of an infection.
Coconut oil works similarly to castor oil as an effective means to soften roughened skin. It has a pleasant scent that may make it preferable. It has the advantage of being edible so that you can use it on lesions on your lips or near your mouth. It may also speed wound healing.
A study by the University of Kerala found that injuries resolved healed quicker in experiments done with rats. Researchers noted that coconut oil increased collagen levels resulting in normal appearing skin within 14 days of treatment. Collagen is one of the main structural proteins of skin.
If you notice something odd on your skin, you may ask what is a lesion, and should you worry. In most cases, skin lesions are just an inconvenience, albeit, an unpleasant one. If they don’t clear up on their own, there are several things you can do to get rid of them quickly and effectively.
The first step you should take is to find out the underlying cause so you can treat it rather than just the symptoms. Once you know this information, you can make smart choices to get rid of them for good.