Written by Timothy Okooboh
It was 7.00 Am on Monday morning. Aliyu’s mom walked into her five year old son’s room to prepare him for school. But to her surprise, she noticed an unusual appearance on his face, around his nose and mouth.
Oh my God! What are these? She said. She placed the palm of her hands around his neck to feel his temperature and observed that it was slightly higher than normal. She hurriedly took him to a nearby health centre, panting and beckoned to a nurse to take her to the doctor. Calm down madam said the nurse, what is the matter? It’s my son, said the mother, he is not alright. I need to see the doctor immediately.
Finally, it got to their turn. After one minute of physical examination, the doctor said, your son has some reddish crusts and blisters around his nose and mouth. This is impetigo. Impeti what? Said Aliyu’s mom. Oh don’t panic madam. Impetigo is a bacteria skin infection. I will prescribe an antibiotic for Aliyu. He will be fine.
A skin lesion is a part of the skin that has an abnormal appearance compared to the skin around it. Skin problems caused by infection, injury or inflammation present with one or more lesions. In the illustration above, even though the mother did not know her child has impetigo, she could at least see the lesions on his face indicating that something was wrong with his skin health. Therefore, in order to understand various skin infections or problems, it is important to first of all be familiar with the various skin lesions since they make up the terminologies usually used to explain various skin infections and other skin problems.
Common skin lesions include:
A blister is an area of the skin that is raised and filled with fluid such as pus, blood, plasma or serum.
Pustule is a blister containing pus. That is, if the fluid in a blister is pus then the blister is a pustule.
A large blister on the skin is called a bulla (plural, bullae). That is, bulla is a blister greater than 1cm in diameter.
Crust is a solid layer on the skin formed by solidification of bodily exudates or secretions. For example, a blister can rupture and the fluid ( pus, plasma, serum or blood) can dry on the skin to form a crust.
Erythema is a reddened area of skin that is as a result of increased blood flow to the capillaries of the skin. It can be due to injury, infection or inflammation.
Papule is a solid elevation of skin, usually round in shape, with no visible fluid. The size of a papule varies from a pinhead to 1cm in diameter.
Macule is an area of skin that differs in colour from the rest of the skin. A macule is neither elevated nor depressed. Spots and blemishes are also examples of macules. Hence by this definition, you may not be wrong to refer to erythema as a reddish macule. Macules greater than 1cm in diameter are called patches.
The presence of one or more of the above skin lesions is largely a sign of an underlining skin infection, hence seek medical attention when they occur.
In the next few days, I will be explaining various common bacteria, fungi and viral skin infections; their causes, symptoms and treatment, in simple and easy to understand language. So be expectant.
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