What causes flat or raised lesions and what should I do about them?

Symptom Database

Have you ever noticed flat or raised lesions on your skin and wondered what could be causing them? Skin lesions can be a cause for concern, but they can also be harmless. In this article, we will explore the different types of skin lesions, their causes, and what you should do if you notice them.

Understanding Skin Lesions

Skin lesions are abnormal growths or changes in the skin’s texture or color. They can be flat or raised and may vary in size and shape. Skin lesions can be caused by a variety of factors, including infections, allergies, autoimmune disorders, and even genetic predispositions.

Flat Lesions

Flat lesions are areas of the skin that appear smooth and are usually not raised or elevated. They can be categorized into different types:

  • Macules: These are small, flat spots that are typically less than 1 centimeter in diameter. Examples include freckles and age spots.
  • Patches: Patches are larger flat areas of discoloration that are usually greater than 1 centimeter in diameter. Conditions like vitiligo and melasma can cause patches on the skin.

Raised Lesions

Raised lesions, on the other hand, are skin abnormalities that are elevated or protrude from the skin’s surface. They can be caused by various factors:

  • Papules: Papules are small, solid bumps that are less than 1 centimeter in diameter. Acne and warts are examples of papules.
  • Nodules: Nodules are larger, solid bumps that extend deeper into the skin. They can be painful and may require medical intervention.
  • Tumors: Tumors are abnormal growths that can be benign or cancerous. They can vary in size and shape and may require a biopsy for diagnosis.

Causes of Skin Lesions

Now that we have a better understanding of the different types of skin lesions, let’s explore some common causes:


Infections can lead to the development of skin lesions. Bacterial, viral, and fungal infections can cause various types of lesions, such as blisters, pustules, and ulcers. Conditions like herpes, impetigo, and ringworm are examples of infections that can result in skin lesions.


Allergic reactions can also cause skin lesions. Contact dermatitis, for instance, occurs when the skin comes into contact with an allergen or irritant. This can lead to the development of red, itchy, and raised lesions.

Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells in the body. Conditions like psoriasis and lupus can cause skin lesions as a result of the immune system’s response.

Genetic Predispositions

Some individuals may be genetically predisposed to certain skin conditions that can cause lesions. For example, individuals with a family history of skin cancer may be more prone to developing skin lesions.

What Should You Do?

If you notice any unusual skin lesions, it is important to consult a dermatologist. They will be able to examine the lesions and provide an accurate diagnosis. Depending on the cause and severity of the lesions, the dermatologist may recommend various treatment options:

  • Topical Medications: In many cases, skin lesions can be treated with topical medications such as creams or ointments. These medications can help reduce inflammation, control infections, and promote healing.
  • Oral Medications: In more severe cases, oral medications may be prescribed to address the underlying cause of the lesions. These medications may include antibiotics, antifungals, or immunosuppressants.
  • Procedures: In certain situations, procedures may be necessary to remove or treat the lesions. This can include cryotherapy, laser therapy, or surgical excision.

It is important to follow the dermatologist’s recommendations and adhere to the prescribed treatment plan. Additionally, practicing good skincare habits can help prevent the development of skin lesions. This includes regular cleansing, moisturizing, and protecting the skin from excessive sun exposure.


Skin lesions can be a cause for concern, but with proper diagnosis and treatment, many can be effectively managed. Whether you have flat or raised lesions, it is crucial to consult a dermatologist to determine the underlying cause and receive appropriate care. Remember to take care of your skin and seek professional help if you notice any changes or abnormalities. Your skin’s health is important, and early intervention can make a significant difference in managing skin conditions and promoting overall well-being.

Haroon Rashid, MD
Rate author
Urgent Care Center of Arlington, VA
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