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  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

What you need to know about different types of skin marks

Getting a proper diagnosis on the type of skin mark you may have is the first step toward treatment.

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Curology Team
Oct 04, 2022 · 7 min read

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We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.
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  3. > What you need to know about different types of skin marks

Here at Curology, we currently focus on the diagnosis and treatment of acne, rosacea, and anti-aging concerns. We do not treat many of the conditions mentioned in this article. This article is for information purposes only.

“Skin marks” is a broad term that people use to refer to many different things. Some may think of skin marks as lesions like papules, ulcers, hives, or nodules, but at Curology, we think of them as flat or atrophic lesions—marks that don’t rise above the level of your skin. That includes atrophic scars, hyperpigmentation, and striae (the medical term for stretch marks). 

If you have noticeable scars, hyperpigmentation, or stretch marks, first things first: There’s nothing wrong with that. These types of skin marks don’t define who you are as a person, and they’re part of what makes you uniquely you. But we also understand the frustration that can come along with unwanted skin marks—we want you to feel confident in your skin, no matter what.

Here we’ll teach you things to help prevent and treat skin marks, should you choose to do so.

Skin marks and lesions: What are some of the different types?

Again, a “skin mark” is a vague way of describing types of lesions or blemishes, and each has different conditions associated with it.¹ Skin markings anatomy is a complex topic and depending on who you ask, it can range from simple skin issues to chronic skin conditions. This list includes the more common things that people often describe as skin marks and/or lesions, but it's by no means exhaustive:  

  • Vesicles are small, clear, fluid-filled bumps that can result from conditions such as acute allergic contact dermatitis, autoimmune blistering disorders, or herpes infections. 

  • Bullae are clear fluid-filled blisters that often develop from burns, bites, irritant contact dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, and drug interactions. These are larger in size than vesicles.

  • Pustules are raised pus-filled vesicles that are often caused by bacterial infections. These blemishes are common in people with moderate to severe acne (although acne is not an infection). At Curology, we don’t consider acne to be a type of skin mark, but if you are experiencing acne, this acne face mapping guide can help you get to the bottom of what might be contributing to your breakouts.

  • Nodules are firm bumps similar to papules, but they extend further beneath the surface of your skin.

  • Macules are flat, nonpalpable (you can’t feel them under your fingers) lesions that can vary in color. Flat moles and freckles fall into this category. 

  • Wheals come in a number of shapes and sizes. They’re raised red areas that can pop up on your skin due to a reaction to things such as an insect bite or sting. wheals can be extremely itchy! 

  • Plaques are rough patches that usually form above the skin’s surface. They can be flat-topped or rounded. Psoriasis is one of the common causes of plaques.

  • Scars develop when an injured spot on your skin heals. They can be flat and barely noticeable, but sometimes they’re hypertrophic (a fancy way of saying raised) and other times they are atrophic (depressed).

  • Birthmarks. Birthmarks come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They may be flat or raised. Some go away on their own while others can remain on the skin for life.

young woman with skin marks
  • Skin rashes. Many types of skin rashes can leave a mark. Some common skin rashes include allergic contact dermatitis, irritant contact dermatitis, and eczema.

Identifying the symptoms of skin marks

Now that we’ve explained some of the different types of skin marks, let’s explore a few common symptoms of skin marks on the body. Skin mark meanings can vary, so it’s sometimes hard to identify which symptoms are a sign of an actual skin disorder. If you have questions about any marks on any part of your body, you should consult your medical provider. They have the knowledge and the right diagnostic tools, and they can help you figure out which treatment options will be the most effective.    

That said, certain irregularities can indicate the presence of a skin condition. Here’s what to keep an eye out for:

  • Raised bumps. Red or white raised bumps may indicate infections, allergic reactions, skin disorders, or even different types of skin cancer. If you have raised bumps that change in shape, size, or color over time, see a dermatology provider as soon as possible. 

  • Rashes. Rashes can be painful or itchy. See a medical professional if you have a rash that won’t go away or gets worse. 

  • Scaly skin. Often this can be a sign of dehydrated skin (skin dryness). Scaly skin can be caused by other things, too, like a fungal infection.   

  • Discolored patches of skin. Discolored patches may be a variety of shades and colors including red, pink, purple, brown, blue, or black. Even if the condition isn’t painful—post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, for example—the correct diagnosis can help you get the treatment you need. 

  • Moles. Just like raised bumps, anything that changes in color, size, or shape needs a professional eye. 

A course of action for treating skin marks

We’ve covered some identifying symptoms of skin marks, but remember—there’s no substitute for seeing a licensed medical professional. Having a professional examine your skin is the best way to get an accurate diagnosis. 

Acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation are some of the more common skin conditions that Curology treats. Here are some expert tips to treat these conditions: 

  • Topical creams and ointments can help treat and prevent acne, rosacea flare-ups, and hyperpigmentation. Active ingredients include salicylic acid, clindamycin, azelaic acid, and tretinoin. You can buy products containing some of these ingredients over the counter, but others are only available by prescription. For example, some ingredients (like saliciylic acid) are available over the counter to treat acne and hyperpigmentation. Tretinoin, however, is a prescription-strength retinoid (and one of our personal favorites!). 

  • In-office chemical peels are performed by a dermatology expert—and the results you see will often depend upon the skill of the person performing the peel.² Chemical peels are classified as superficial, medium, and deep, with four common peels: alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) peels, beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), trichloroacetic acid (TCA), and phenol peels. Many of this help improve superficial skin marks. Work with your dermatology provider to find the best treatment option for you. 

  • Laser and intense pulsed light therapy may help treat melasma³ and hyperpigmentation resulting from inflammation or pimples. Laser therapy may also be effective in treating acne scarring.

While many conditions that leave skin marks are treatable, it’s key to keep consistent skincare and limit sun exposure. A regular skincare routine should include washing and moisturizing your face twice daily, applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 as part of your morning skincare routine, and adding a treatment cream to your nighttime routine. If you’re prone to dryness, besides a hydrating moisturizer, you can try adding a non-comedogenic facial oil to your routine. Think of prevention as one of the best treatments. 

Curology may be able to help 

We’re a family-owned skincare brand founded in 2014 by mother and son dermatologists. Their mission was simple: to provide personalized skincare service that was affordable and effective.

As a Curology member, you’re paired with a licensed dermatology provider who will offer expert guidance and effective treatment for skin concerns like acne, anti-aging, hyperpigmentation, and rosacea. Your provider can not only diagnose certain skin conditions but will also be with you every step of the way following diagnosis.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

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If you’re looking for a partner for your journey toward healthier skin, give Curology a try for 30-days at no cost. Just pay $4.95 (plus tax) for shipping and handling. One of our dermatology experts will prescribe a personalized prescription formula to match your skincare goals, and you’ll also get our cleanser, moisturizer, and any other products you’d like to try.

FAQs

Skin marks and lesions: What are some of the different types?

A “skin mark” is a vague way of describing types of lesions or blemishes, and each has different conditions associated with it. Skin markings anatomy is a complex topic and depending on who you ask, it can range from simple skin issues to chronic skin conditions.

What are some of the symptoms of skin marks?

Skin mark meanings can vary, so it’s sometimes hard to identify which symptoms are a sign of an actual skin disorder. Certain irregularities can indicate the presence of a skin condition. Here’s what to keep an eye out for:

  • Raised bumps. Red or white raised bumps may indicate infections, allergic reactions, skin disorders, or even different types of skin cancer.

  • Rashes. Rashes can be painful or itchy. See a medical professional if you have a rash that won’t go away or gets worse. 

  • Scaly skin. Often this can be a sign of dehydrated skin (skin dryness). Scaly skin can be caused by other things, too, like a fungal infection.   

  • Discolored patches of skin. Discolored patches may be a variety of shades and colors including red, pink, purple, brown, blue, or black.

  • Moles. Just like raised bumps, anything that changes in color, size, or shape needs a professional eye.

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Merk Manual. Descriptions of skin lesions. (n.d.).

  2. American Academy of Dermatology. Chemical peels: FAQs. (n.d.).

  3. Gupta, A.D., et al. The treatment of melasma: A review of clinical trials.Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (2006).

* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Meredith Hartle, DO

Meredith Hartle, DO

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