To care for your skin, it helps to know the lingo of dermatology conditions, treatments, and beauty products. Here is the essential glossary to help you get clued in.
Acne conglobata: Type of acne in which interconnected nodules are located beneath the surface of the skin.
Acne mechanica: Acne caused by exposure to heat, covered skin, pressure, or repetitive friction.
Acne vulgaris: The most common type of acne, associated with blackheads, whiteheads, papules, and pustules, commonly referred to as pimples or zits.
Actinic keratoses: Precancerous growths that can appear red, thick, and rough; usually found on sun-damaged skin.
Age spots: Flat, brownish patches on the skin caused by sun exposure and perhaps aging; also known as "liver spots."
Alopecia: Unusual hair loss, most often on the scalp.
Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs): Exfoliating ingredients derived from fruit and milk sugars and used to help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age spots.
Antioxidants: Vitamins A (including beta carotene), C, and E, thought to repair and protect skin cells by neutralizing damaging free radicals.
Atopic: When an antibody present in the skin makes someone more likely to experience allergic reactions.
Basal cell carcinoma: Type of skin cancer that forms at the base of the epidermis of the skin and usually does not spread to other parts of the body; associated with long-term overexposure to the sun.
Benzoyl peroxide: Topical acne treatment that kills acne-causing bacteria.
Blackhead: A clogged pore usually filled with hardened oil and dead skin cells; the tip is visible at the pore opening.
Blepharoplasty: Cosmetic procedure to remove excess fat and skin from around the eyes.
Chemical peel: Chemical solution applied to the skin to remove damaged outer layers.
Dermabrasion: Procedure in which a rotating brush is used to abrade, or remove, the outer surface of the skin.
Dermatitis: Inflammation of the skin.
Dermis: The middle layer of the skin.
Eczema: Inflammatory response in the skin that can lead to redness, itching, and scaling.
Epidermis: The outer layer of the skin.
Exfoliate: To slough off the outer layer of skin cells.
Follicle: A shaft in the skin through which hair grows.
Isotretinoin (Accutane and other brand names): Oral vitamin A-based medication used to treat severe acne.
Laser resurfacing: Laser procedure to remove signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots.
Melanin: A chemical in the body that gives skin and hair their unique color.
Melanoma: Life-threatening form of skin cancer that usually develops in an existing mole.
Mole: Pigmented skin lesion also known as a nevus.
Noncomedogenic: A product not likely to clog pores and cause acne lesions.
Papule: Acne lesion that appears as a small, red bump on the skin.
Photo-aging: Skin damage that results from prolonged overexposure to the sun.
Phototherapy: Artificial ultraviolet (UV) radiation treatment for some skin diseases.
Plaque: Raised, but relatively flat, patch of skin.
Psoriasis: Skin condition characterized by red, raised, scaly patches.
Pustule: Inflamed acne lesion containing pus.
Retinoids: Derivatives of vitamin A used to treat a variety of skin conditions.
Rosacea: Skin condition characterized by prominent spider veins and sometimes swelling.
Sclerotherapy: Treatment that reduces the appearance of varicose veins and spider veins by injecting them with a special solution.
Sebaceous glands: Oil-producing glands in the skin that are attached to hair follicles.
Seborrheic dermatitis: Scalp condition associated with itching and flakiness (dandruff) that can also occur on the face.
Skin biopsy: Diagnostic procedure in which a portion of the skin is removed for examination in a laboratory.
Spider veins: Small reddish or purplish sunburst-shaped veins under the skin.
Squamous cell carcinoma: Type of skin cancer that forms in outer layers of the skin, capable of spreading to other parts of the body, and associated with long-term overexposure to the sun.
Subcutis: The layer of fat beneath the skin.
Telogen effluvium: Hair loss that is temporary, often related to stress, illness, or recent childbirth.
Topical: A product applied on the skin.
Tretinoin: Topical retinoid used to treat acne by unclogging pores; also used to lessen signs of photo-aging.
Ultraviolet light: The sun’s UVA and UVB rays that can cause both skin damage and skin cancers.
Urticaria: Raised reddish, itchy areas, also called hives.
Varicose veins: Large blood vessels that appear as blue bulges beneath the skin; may be associated with swelling, pain, and other symptoms.
Whitehead: Closed acne lesion caused by a clogged hair follicle.