Part 2 | Observing the Skin

Disciplined and thorough observation is key to describing the features of a rash accurately.
Understanding and mastering each of the steps in the process is critical to making an accurate diagnosis.

The Skin Exam Process

Click each of the following steps for an interactive tutorial.
Lesson 1. The first step is to learn how dermatologists perform a skin exam.
PapuleLesson 2. Describe what you see by using standard dermatologic terminology.
LocationLesson 3. Describe the locations and distributions of the skin lesions.
Smooth not over Lesson 4. Learn the terms for shapes and configurations.
Experts put these features together as they examine the skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes. Many common rash patterns are so characteristic that a diagnosis can be made with no history at all. In other cases, such as viral exanthems, the history of the eruption can clinch the diagnosis.