What are the Most Common Causes of Skin Lesions?

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  • Written By: Allison Boelcke
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2016
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Skin lesions is a broad term that refers to any areas of skin that change in appearance from the rest of the skin. This can include a wide range of skin conditions, such as wounds, sores, rashes, scabs, or discolorations. The causes of skin lesions can range from benign and mild to life-threatening.

One of the most common causes of skin lesions is acne. Acne is a condition in which the pores on the skin become clogged with excess oil, dead skin, or bacteria, and cause lesions to form on the skin. These lesions can range from small red spots, yellow pus-filled bumps, or cystic acne, which causes deep and painful pits in the surface of the skin. Acne can occur anywhere on the skin’s surface, but tends to be most common on the face, neck, back, shoulders, and chest.

Psoriasis is another common skin condition that can also result in skin lesions. Normally during the life cycle of skin cells, old dead skin cells regularly flake off and are replaced with new skin cells. Psoriasis causes these dead skin cells to stay in place and accumulate instead of flaking off, resulting in thick stacked patches of hard dead skin. These patches of dead skin are often referred to as scales and may be elevated rather than be flat lesions.


Various infections can be different causes of skin lesions. These lesions include bacterial infections that occur in the hair follicles on the skin, known as folliculitis, or on other areas on the skin that come into contact with bacteria. Other infections that can lead to skin lesions include herpes, a viral infection that can cause painful blisters, or acute allergic contact dermatitis, a condition that causes a red rash and occurs when the skin is exposed to a chemical or other substance to which a person is allergic.

Some of the more serious causes of skin lesions include autoimmune disorders. An autoimmune disorder refers to any disorder that occurs when the body’s immune system begins to destroy health cells in the same manner it uses to fight off bacteria, diseases, viruses, and other foreign substances. An example of an autoimmune disorder is pemphigus, a rare condition that causes blisters to inexplicably form on the skin, lining of the mouth, and genitals. Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is an autoimmune disorder caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that eventually destroys the body’s immune system and can also cause dark purple lesions on the skin.


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Post 3

@fBoyle-- STDs come to mind first, but it could also be something like psoriasis.

My husband has psoriasis and develops skin lesions sometimes. He even had one on his penis once. So don't jump to conclusions, just make sure to see a doctor soon.

The only time I had a skin lesion was when I had a staph infection in college. I think I got it from the girls' locker room. At one point, I literally had a hole in my leg. It was terrible.

Post 2

@fBoyle-- There are so many possible causes.

It could be due to a sexually transmitted disease like chlamydia or herpes. It could be a skin disease caused by fungi or an allergic reaction. A doctor has to see it and a swab has to be taken to check for viruses, fungi or bacteria.

If you think that it could be STD related, avoid sexual contact and physical contact until it's fully treated.

Post 1

What causes lesions on the penis?

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