Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

Removal of surface skin by chemical or laser for the purpose healing or rejuvenation

Acne Conglobata

A severe form of cystic acne characterized by deep, inflammatory nodules that track under the skin to other nodules. Acne conglobata can cause deep scarring and is difficult to treat.

AK (Actitnic Keratosis)

Small, dry, scaling lesions occuring on sun-exposed areas of the skin.


Hair loss. Alopecia is divided into scarring alopecia and nonscarring alopecia. The most common type of hair loss is nonscarring alopecia, which is further divided into localized alopecia and generalized alopecia.


A technique utilized to help the clinician diagnose an existing lesion, rash, or other dermatological condition. During a biopsy the area selected is numbed with a local anesthetic and a small piece of the area to be analyzed is removed. Types of biopsies include, shave, punch, and excision.


A walled-off collection of pus. Boils often appear in areas of friction or minor trauma such as underneath the belt, the fronts of the thighs, buttocks, groin, and armpits.

Botox® (Botulinum Toxin)

A cosmetic filler agent that is injected into the skin to relax facial muscles and block block nerve impulses that trigger wrinkly-causing muscle contractions.

Chemical Peel
A procedure in which a chemical solution is applied to remove outer layers of aged, discolored, or irregular skin


A cosmetic filler agent administered by injection and used to fill and plump the face and lips


The use of liquid nitrogen to destroy visible skin lesions. Commonly used for actinic keratoses, verruca vulgaris, and molluscum contagiosum.


A lesion at various levels of the skin that has fluid or solid matter contained within a wall. The difference between the different types of cysts listed below is what level they are located in the skin and what solid matter is inside the cyst.


A resurfacing procedure used to treat scarring, pigmentation, and sun damage


An inflammation of the skin. Many people think of dermatitis as synonymous with eczema, but this is actually not true. Almost any rash can be thought of as a dermatitis based on this definition – including psoriasis, skin cancer, and seborrhea, which is not the case.

Dermatologic Surgeon

A Board-certified physician who focuses on diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions. Dermatologic surgeons have completed medical school, a one-year internship, and a three-year dermatology residency, and continue research and training through ongoing post-graduate courses and symposia.

Dermatologic Surgery

The practice of dermatology that specializes in surgical procedures and minimally invasive treatments to improve the health, function, and appearance of skin, including treatment of skin conditions and therapeutic, reconstructive, and cosmetic skincare.


The second of the three major layers of skin. The dermis varies in thickness depending on the location of the skin. It is .3 mm on the eyelid and 3.0 mm on the back. The dermis is composed of three types of tissue that are present throughout – not in layers. The types of tissue are collagen, elastic tissue, and reticular fibers. The two layers of the dermis are the papillary and reticular layers. The upper, papillary layer contains a thin arrangement of collagen fibers. The lower, reticular layer, is thicker and made of thick collagen fibers that are arranged parallel to the surface of the skin. The dermis contains many specialized cells and structures. The hair follicles are situated here with the erector pili muscle that attaches to each follicle. Sebaceous (oil) glands and apocrine (scent) glands are associated with the follicle. This layer also contains eccrine (sweat) glands, but they are not associated with hair follicles. Blood vessels and nerves course through this layer. The nerves transmit sensations of pain, itch, and temperature. There are also specialized nerve cells called Meissner’s and Vater-Pacini corpuscles that transmit the sensations of touch and pressure.

ED&C (Electrodesiccation and Curettage)

A technique used to treat certain types of superficial skin cancers. The area to be treated is injected with a local anesthetic. Curettes are used to destroy the lesion. A hyfrecator is then used to attain hemostasis.

EIC (Epidermal Inclusion Cyst)

A small benign cyst in the epidermis caused by blocked pilosebaceous follicles. May be removed by surgical excision.


The outer layer of skin. The thickness of the epidermis varies in different types of skin. It is thinnest on the eyelids at .05 mm and thickest on the palms and soles at 1.5 mm. The epidermis contains 5 layers. From bottom to top, the layers are named stratum basale, stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum licidum, and stratum corneum. The bottom layer, the stratum basale, has cells that are shaped like columns. In this layer the cells divide and push already formed cells into higher layers. As the cells move into the higher layers, they flatten and eventually die. The top layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum, is made of dead, flat skin cells that shed about every 2 weeks.


Involves the use of a local anesthetic and the removal of a skin lesion by use of a surgical scalpel. The excised area is then sent to a laboratory for pathologic evaluation.

Excisional Biopsy

A surgical scalpel is used to excise a small portion of the tissue for analysis. Excisional biopsies are used for larger, deeper lesions. Sutures will be required for this type of biopsy.


A method of removing unwanted skin lesions such as milia or comedones on the face. A small lancet is used to puncture the lesion. Then an instrument called a comedone extractor extracts the unwanted debris.

Fibrous Papule

A benign, small, firm, skin colored inflammation typically occuring on the nose of a middle aged person

Filler Agent
A natural or synthetic substance injected into the skin for the purpose of facial contouring, such as elimination of wrinkles or lip enhancement


An infection of the hair follicle. The folliculitis is usually smaller than a boil and there are usually numerous folliculitis lesions with an outbreak.


A benign tumor of dilated blood vessels.


A small electrode that uses heat to destroy skin lesions and helps to stop bleeding.


A superficial bacterial skin infection caused by Staphylococci and Streptococci bacteria. The hallmark finding of impetigo is a honey colored crust that covers a well-demarcated red lesion. Impetigo is treated with the topical antibiotic mupirocin (Bactroban).


Yellowing of the skin, whites of the eyes (sclerae), and other tissues because of excessive bilirubin in the blood.

Jock Itch (Tinea Cruris)

A fungal infection of the groin more common in men than in women


Firm, elevated scar tissue that extends beyond the normal scar tissue.


Brown spots consisting of increased numbers of epidermal melanocytes.


A benign, fatty tumor


Tiny, white, keratin filled cysts occurring on the face. May be treated by extraction.


A discoloration of the skin due to pigmentation that is more commonly known as a mole. A nevus may be flat or raised. Benign nevi do not require treatment, however, changing nevi may be biopsied for evaluation. A pink, white, or skin colored nevi that has irregularities and has been classified as having moderate or severe atypia is recommended for removal.


The interpretation of a specimen to determine the cause of the change in the skin. This is done by a clinician skilled in the analysis of skin using microscopic examinations.

Punch Biopsy

Utilizes a small device with a sharp circular edge to obtain a slightly deeper sample of tissue. Used to analyze tissue below the visible skin surface. A few sutures are required for this type of biopsy.

Razor Bumps (Pseudofolliculitis Barbae)

This condition is called “pseudo” folliculitis because it is caused not by a bacterial infection, but by the regrowth of hair after it has been shaved. This condition occurs most often in people with very curly, kinky hair. After the hair has been shaved, it begins to grow back. Curly hair tends to kink into the skin instead of out the follicle causing a mechanical irritation. The hallmark of this irritation is red or hyperpigmented papules. Sometimes pustules can form especially if the papule gets secondarily infected.

Sebaceous Cyst (Epidermal Cyst)

A collection of keratin-like material – usually white, cheesy, or firm – contained in a cyst wall. The sebaceous cyst normally has a small opening that communicates with the skin and may not be very well seen. Sebaceous cysts can occur on any skin surface, but are most common on the face, back or base of the ears, chest, and back. Sebaceous cysts do not have to be removed unless they are cosmetically unacceptable or if they get infected. An infected sebaceous cyst is red, swollen, and painful. It should be treated with antibiotics and then excised when it is not inflamed. The key to removing a sebaceous cyst is removing all of the cyst wall, otherwise the likelihood of the cyst coming back is high.

Seb Derm (Sebborheic Dermatitis)

Inflammation of the scalp consisting of dry, scaling lesions. May also occur on the forehead nasolabial folds, eyebrows, or vermillion border of lips. Can be itchy, red, and greasy. Treated with topical creams and scalp solutions.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Benign, elevated, soft, yellowish, raised bumps frequently found on the face.

Shave Biopsy

A technique using a small flexible blade to shave the surface of the lesion for analysis. Typically used for superficial lesions of the skin.

SK (Sebborheic Keratosis)

A benign skin lesion occurring with the aging process. They appear on covered and uncovered areas of skin as raised rough spots. They may be light brown, brown or black. The color changes are harmless. These lesions do not need to be removed unless they itch, or become inflamed.

Skin Exam
A dermatology exam involves an assessment of the patient’s entire skin surface, hair and nails. During an examination any skin conditions found will be discussed with the patient to determine the proper treatment. A patient may return for evaluation of the treatment plan.

Skin Tag (Achrochordon)

A benign growth of skin that is connected to the body by a short stalk. Skin tags are found most commonly on the armpits, neck, and groin. People who develop skin tags tend to get more as they grow older. Skin tags can be surgically removed.

Subcutaneous Tissue

the third of the three layers of skin. The subcutaneous layer contains fat and connective tissue that houses larger blood vessels and nerves. This layer is important is the regulation of temperature of the skin itself and the body. The size of this layer varies throughout the body and from person to person.