Differentiating primary skin lesions and manifestations of systemic diseases

Barbara M. Mathes

Dr Barbara M. Mathes is a clinical associate in dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania and president of the Women’s Dermatologic Society.

What are the key differential features of primary skin lesions and cutaneous manifestations of systemic diseases?

Barbara M. Mathes, MD: The key manifestations of systemic disease for the most part are no different than primary skin lesions except in certain diseases.

There are certain systemic diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, that may have skin rashes due to inflammation of the blood vessels. There are certain diseases that we see with diabetes where there are sores on the legs that develop, but for the most part the skin diseases that we see without any other organ involvement are similar to what we see with systemic diseases.

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