PRIMARY AND SECONDARY SKIN LESIONS
Skin conditions are a leading cause of lost man hours in the US Army. During
World War II, more US military were evacuated from the South Pacific for skin diseases
than for battle casualties. In everyday life, relatively minor-appearing skin diseases
have a major impact on a person's occupation and professional activities. Fissured, dry
skin on the hand, for example, can disable a skilled surgeon or mechanic. This lesson
will enable you, the Medical NCO, to become acquainted with primary and secondary
EFFECTS OF SKIN LESIONS
The skin serves as an excellent indicator of general health. Even someone who
is not medically trained can see cyanosis, jaundice, pale skin, and changes in skin
pigmentation. An individual trained to recognize more subtle changes in the skin can
contribute a great deal to a person's general well being. Skin lesions can have a variety
of effects on a person. Skin lesions are abnormal changes in the skin; changes which
can be detected by sight or touch. Some skin lesions are life-threatening; for example,
burns, malignant melanomas, and severe allergies. Other skin lesions may disturb
normal skin functions. The skin plays a major role in maintaining a person's
homeostasis (keeping body temperature relatively constant); skin lesions may disturb
this function. Additionally, skin lesions may indicate that the person has some internal
health problem; for example, hepatitis and endocrine problems exhibit skin lesions.
And, finally, skin lesions that are ugly to look at can cause the individual psychological
distress and social problems. People often stare at the individual and register feelings
from amusement to disgust. If the skin is weeping, red, raw, discolored, peeling, or
scaly, the public may consider the person ugly or dirty and withdraw from him. In turn,
the sufferer may withdraw emotionally and physically, altogether a bad situation and all
the more reason to find out the cause of a skin lesion.
DIFFERENT CONFIGURATIONS OF SKIN LESIONS
The process of diagnosing skin problems and diseases consists of several steps.
First, the lesion(s) must be identified as early as possible. The shape of a single lesion
should be noted. If there are several lesions, the arrangement of the lesions in relation
to each other and their pattern of distribution should be observed. Diagnosis often
depends on the shape, arrangement, and distribution of skin lesions.
a. Annular (Ring-Shaped). These ring-shaped lesions have a margin that is
active and continues to grow. The center is usually clear. Ringworm is an example of
such a lesion.