[Examination procedure and description of skin lesions]

Hautarzt. 2017 Mar;68(3):229-242. doi: 10.1007/s00105-017-3939-y.
[Article in German]


The dermatologic examination follows a clear structure. After a short history is taken, the whole skin is inspected. The description, which is ideally provided in writing, forces one to look at the skin more closely. The description should include an accurate description of the location, the distribution, the form, and the type of lesion. The article contains tables with internationally approved definitions to describe skin changes. The analysis of these findings allows one to deduce pathophysiologic mechanisms occurring in the skin and to deduce hypotheses, i. e., suspected and differential diagnoses. These are confirmed or excluded by further diagnostic measures. The expert comes to a diagnosis very quickly by a pattern-recognition process, whereby novices must still develop this kind of thinking. Experts can minimize cognitive bias by reflective analytical reasoning and reorganization of knowledge.

Keywords: Definitions; Description of findings; Diagnosis; Medical history taking; Skin lesions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Dermoscopy / methods*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Medical History Taking / methods*
  • Physical Examination / methods*
  • Skin Diseases / classification*
  • Skin Diseases / diagnosis*