Cutaneous Conditions - Approach To Diagnoses

Approach To Diagnoses

The physical examination of the skin and its appendages, as well as the mucous membranes, forms the cornerstone of an accurate diagnosis of cutaneous conditions. Most of these conditions present with cutaneous surface changes termed "lesions," which have more or less distinct characteristics. Often proper examination will lead the physician to obtain appropriate historical information and/or laboratory tests that are able to confirm the diagnosis. Upon examination, the important clinical observations are the (1) morphology, (2) configuration, and (3) distribution of the lesion(s). With regard to morphology, the initial lesion that characterizes a condition is known as the "primary lesion," and identification of such a lesions is the most important aspect of the cutaneous examination. Over time, these primary lesions may continue to develop or be modified by regression or trauma, producing "secondary lesions." However, with that being stated, the lack of standardization of basic dermatologic terminology has been one of the principal barriers to successful communication among physicians in describing cutaneous findings. Nevertheless, there are some commonly accepted terms used to describe the macroscopic morphology, configuration, and distribution of skin lesions, which are listed below.

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