Recognizing skin diseases through pictures

Recognizing skin diseases through pictures

Identifying skin diseases based on their specific symptoms is often not that easy. Redness, spots or an itchy rash are signs of many skin disorders. Nevertheless, there can be completely different causes behind similar-looking symptoms. For example, skin diseases can be triggered by psychological problems, pathogens, fungi or allergies, and numerous other causes.

Our photo series should help you recognize common skin diseases such as urticaria, scabies, neurodermatitis, or rosacea and distinguish them from one another. However, these photos only provide a first orientation. If a skin disease is present, medical advice should always be sought. Only in this way can the correct diagnosis be made and the appropriate therapy arranged.

Shingles (Herpes Zoster)

The infectious disease shingles, caused by the varicella-zoster virus, is often initially mistaken for a skin disease. It shows up with a wide variety of symptoms. In addition to fever and general exhaustion, burning and stabbing pains occur. The typical, filled blisters on the skin are often preceded by itchy rashes clustered in one place.

Shingles can appear anywhere on the body. However, the most common areas affected by the rash and blisters are the trunk, legs, arms, face or neck. The rash usually spreads in a belt shape around the upper body.


In neurodermatitis (also known as atopic dermatitis), the symptoms differ depending on the stage of the skin disease. Common signs are itchy, red patches of skin, sometimes with blisters. As the disease progresses, the skin often becomes cracked and dry.

While infants mainly suffer from neurodermatitis on the cheeks, legs and arms, it occurs more often in children and adults in the neck, in the crooks of the arms and behind the knees. More detailed information and pictures of the different manifestations of neurodermatitis can be found in our photo gallery.


Signs of couperose are finely branched redness on the face. These occur mainly on the cheeks and nose and are caused by dilated veins in which blood accumulates. Couperose is more of a cosmetic problem than a disease. However, it can be a precursor to the skin disease rosacea.


Rosacea (also rosacea or copper rose) is a skin disease on the face. Depending on the severity, rosacea can manifest itself with the following skin changes: permanent redness, which shows up in finely branched blood vessels, pustules, nodules and swelling.

In grade III, connective tissue and sebaceous glands proliferate. A typical sign is, for example, the so-called “bulb nose”.


With the skin disease psoriasis, the skin is reddened and scaly. These symptoms are triggered by skin inflammation and accelerated regeneration of the top layer. While this is generally renewed about once a month, in psoriasis, this happens about every fourth day.

Reddening and flaking of the skin are limited to a few foci of inflammation. These can vary in size. In contrast to neurodermatitis, the reddened focus is separated from the rest of the skin. Silvery skin scales also become visible in most of those affected. The areas affected by psoriasis can itch and burn.


Melasma, also known as chloasma, is a skin pigment disorder. Hyperpigmentation presents as sharply defined, irregularly shaped dark yellow to brown spots. Most often, melasma occurs on the face.

Melasma can be triggered by UV radiation, estrogen medication, or other hormonal changes (e.g., pregnancy). That is why it mainly occurs in women. It has no disease value but is a purely cosmetic problem. Melasma often resolves independently, which can take several months to years.

contagious impetigo

Impetigo contagiosa, or grindelworm, is particularly common in children and infants. The skin disease primarily affects the face and hands. Bubbles of different sizes appear, which eventually burst. As a result, sharply demarcated foci of inflammation develop with a golden-yellow crust.

Bacteria cause the skin disease and can be transmitted quickly by smear infection.

skin fungus

A few different types of fungi can cause skin fungi, so it’s not always possible to clearly identify this skin disease from pictures. However, typical symptoms for many types of skin fungus are round, reddened patches of skin that can grow a few centimetres in size. Above all, scales form on the edge of these skin areas.

Skin changes caused by fungi can occur all over the body and, if left untreated, will spread further. However, they often appear more often on moist and warm skin areas, such as in folds under the breasts or armpits.

Nummular eczema

Nummular eczema is shown by clearly defined, circular and reddish foci of inflammation on the skin, some of which are weeping and flaky. They are ubiquitous on the arms and legs.

The causes of this form of eczema still need to be fully understood. It is assumed that bacterial triggers, such as staphylococci, or environmental influences, such as a dry and cold climate, could favour the development.

Vitiligo (white spot disease)

In the case of the skin disease vitiligo, the responsible skin cells (melanocytes) cannot form pigments in certain areas. This creates white, unpigmented patches on the skin that are distinct from the pigmented areas. Vitiligo usually develops first on the hands and feet but can spread over the entire body.

Vitiligo is not a health problem but can also be confused with other skin diseases.

Atheroma (grit bag)

Atheromas, also colloquially as sacs, are benign cysts filled with skin cells and sebum. They occur in the subcutaneous tissue, often around hair follicles. Atheromas are mainly found on the scalp, face, intimate area and upper body.

Left untreated, atheromas can grow to the size of a ping-pong ball. Even if they are not pathological, they are annoying and an aesthetic problem for many of those affected. In rare cases, the otherwise painless groats can also become inflamed. Atheromas can be removed by specialist medical staff.


The skin disease urticaria, or nettle rash or fever, is accompanied by highly severe itching. Reddish, localized skin swellings (so-called wheals) are also a common symptom of hives. These can occur anywhere on the body and can also “wander” – they disappear in one part of the body and reappear in another.

Senile hemangioma (Kirshangioma)

Senile hemangiomas (also called cherry angiomas or ruby ​​spots) are not only found in older people but usually only appear in middle age. These are harmless skin tumours. They appear as small, light to dark red nodules primarily on the upper body.

For some sufferers, they are an aesthetic problem, but they do not pose a health risk.

Altersflecken (senile freckles)

Age spots (lentigines seniles) usually appear after the age of 40. Age spots are benign pigment disorders of the skin that are caused by long-term exposure to the sun. Genetic factors and visits to solariums, as well as alcohol and cigarette consumption, can promote the development.

Because they are triggered by UV radiation, age spots appear primarily on the hands, arms, face or décolleté. They are light to dark brown, sharply demarcated and generally not raised. Their shape can be very different. The spots range from a few millimetres to a few centimetres.

Age spots are not dangerous, but in a few cases, they can progress to lentigo maligna, a type of skin cancer. They should, therefore, be checked regularly.


This skin disease is characterized by the typical painful, fluid-filled blisters in and around the mouth. Usually, only the lip is affected, but herpes can also spread to the skin surrounding the mouth, nose, or oral cavity. When the affected area of ​​the face moves, the blisters can tear and ooze.

Itching, painful and tingling skin can precede the formation of the blisters. The herpes simplex virus causes cold sores. Viruses from the same family are also the triggers of genital herpes.

Acne vulgaris

Acne vulgaris is one of the most common facial skin diseases. However, it can also appear on other body parts such as the neck, décolleté or back. Typical for acne are, depending on the form of the skin disease, blackheads, hard, red or red-white inflamed pustules or deep lumps a few centimetres in size, which are inflamed (purulent) and painful and can leave scars after they have disappeared.

Hormone-related acne usually appears for the first time during puberty and subsides by age 30. It is triggered when the sebaceous glands secrete more or when hair follicles become horny. This creates a breeding ground for bacteria, which in turn causes redness and inflammation.


Bleeding in the skin, which can occur in different degrees, is called purpura. Depending on the size of the bleeding, the name also differs. Purpura is also distinguished from bruising (hematoma), which occurs in response to trauma such as a bump or fall.

Petechiae fall under the collective term purpura. Petechiae are punctiform; their diameter is usually less than a centimetre. In addition, purpura is a minor and extensive bleeding that can be about the size of a coin. In this case, one speaks of a sugillation. Extensive haemorrhages are so-called suffusions (ecchymoses).

Purpura can be a disease of its own ( e.g. Schoenlein-Henoch purpura ). The bleeding can also be a symptom of various diseases, such as a coagulation disorder or thrombocytopenia.


Warts are benign skin growths that can develop after infection with human papillomavirus. A distinction is made between planar warts, brush warts, vulgar warts (prickly warts), genital warts and plantar warts. Mollusc warts, stalk warts, and senile warts do not belong to the real warts group.

Warts vary in appearance: They often appear as small, sharply defined bumps on the skin that can be smooth or rough, pointed or rounded. In addition, they can both cause pain and occur without pain.

Warts often develop on areas of skin that get a lot of exposure to sunlight, such as the hands. Plantar warts, on the other hand, only appear on the feet.

Tinkerbell lichen (Lichen ruber planus)

Many different forms of skin diseases are referred to as ringworm. The ringworm is a common form. Typical symptoms are small, light red and waxy lumps on the skin that are slightly raised and often join together in groups or plates. They are often associated with severe itching.

It is also characteristic that the nodules often have fine white dots or an exemplary network of white lines. However, these so-called “Wickham stripes” are sometimes so weak that they can only be seen with a magnifying glass or a reflected-light microscope. The skin disease often first appears on the insides of the arms and wrists but can also spread to the legs, trunk and genitals.


A birthmark known as nevus flammeus is a congenital, benign skin lesion. It is shown by flat, red spots that can appear all over the body. With age, the port-wine stain can turn dark red to bluish and enlarge. It is caused by dilation of the blood vessels. The so-called stork bite is a unique form which can fade throughout life.


The skin disease scabies, medically also called scabies, is triggered by itch mites (scabies mites). These mites only grow to about 0.5 millimetres in size. They burrow into the upper layer of skin to lay their eggs . The mites can survive undetected for about four to eight weeks.

The excrement of the mites triggers the typical symptoms of itching and burning after two to five weeks. After some time, small blisters and reddened nodules or bumps can also appear. The spaces between the fingers and toes, the armpits, wrists and ankles, elbows, nipples and genitals are particularly frequently affected.

Quaddeln (Nettle)

Wheels can be white or reddish in colour. They appear as a slight thickening of the skin and can vary significantly in size – wheels the size of a point are just as possible as those almost the size of the hand. Both single and multiple wheals can appear at the same time, sometimes in connection with itching.

The formation of the tissue hormones histamine or serotonin in the body often causes wheels. This is triggered, for example, by insect or plant toxins, for example, after an insect bite or contact with a stinging nettle. Mechanical irritation, such as friction or stress, can also trigger wheals.

As a rule, wheels disappear by themselves within a few hours at the latest. If this is not the case, they can be a symptom of a skin disease such as hives.


Aphthae (often misspelt as “aphthae”) are painful sores in the mouth, gums, lips, or tongue lining. They appear as white blisters with a sharp red border that can be extremely painful to the touch. Aphthae are, therefore, often disturbing when eating or speaking. As a rule, they are only a few millimetres, but in exceptional cases, they can even be a few centimetres.

The triggers for aphthae can be very different. They can occur, among other things, as a reaction to stress, as a side effect of medication or due to herpes viruses.


Reddening is a circular reddening of the skin that can occur as a symptom of Lyme disease after a tick bite. The redness spreads more and more as the disease progresses. The site of the tick bite is often visible as a pale recess. A flush does not have to occur with every infection with Lyme disease. About 10 to 20 per cent of the diseases progress without this symptom. An atypical, i.e. paler and striped reddening, is also possible.

Hitzepickel (Miliaria crystallina)

Heat rash, also known as heat rash or miliaria, results from excessive sweating.

A form of this skin disease that is particularly common in children is miliaria crystalline, in which the sweat glands become blocked. These heat rashes usually appear on the chest, armpits, shoulders, and back. They are usually not inflamed and, therefore, not reddened. However, they are filled with liquid that can escape if touched.

Hitzepickel (Red miliaria)

This form of heat rash is also known as “red dog”. Miliaria rubra, like miliaria cristallina, develops as a reaction to heavy sweating and the resulting blocked sweat glands. The pimples are red and often appear with skin swelling, pain and severe itching. They are mainly found on the hull.

basal cell carcinoma

Basal cell carcinoma is a form of light or white skin cancer. As it is mainly due to intense exposure to the sun, it mainly occurs on the head and neck, but it can also occur on the arms, legs and trunk.

The appearance of basal cell carcinoma can be very different. It is often skin coloured or reddish, with tiny blood vessels showing on the surface. The form is often nodular, and there may also be a border of smaller nodules that run along the carcinoma, like pearls. Our photo series lets you learn more about differentiation and skin cancer detection.


Pustules are pus-filled, raised blisters with a red rim of inflammation. The causes can be varied. Pustules on the face are often associated with acne vulgaris or rosacea. If itchy bumps appear, these can also indicate an infestation with scabies mites (itch). Fingers and toes, armpits, wrists and ankles, elbows, nipples and genitals are particularly affected. Bacterial infections of the skin can also trigger pimples.

A special form are the subcorneal pustules (subcorneal pustular dermatosis). These occur mainly on the flexor sides of the arms and legs, on the trunk, and spread out in groups in a ring shape. Itching and scaling are associated with subcorneal pustules.

Soft fibroma (stalk wart)

The soft fibroma, commonly called “stem wart” (although not a wart), is a benign growth of connective tissue on the skin. Their development can be genetically determined, but a weak immune system or being overweight can also promote the formation of such fibroids.

Soft fibroids are small tumours a few millimetres in size. They are skin-coloured and often protrude from the skin as a stalk. They most commonly appear in the breast crease, neck, armpits, and face.

Hartes Fibrom

The hard fibroma is a benign growth of connective tissue. Genetic factors, obesity or a weakened immune system, can favour the formation of fibroids.

Problematic fibroids are dark and bony. They are usually a few millimetres in size but can also grow up to a centimetre. In contrast to the soft fibroma, the hard fibroma does not protrude as much from the skin and is less easy to compress.

Milien (Grießkörner)

Milia, also known colloquially as semolina grains, form at hair follicles or the exits of sweat glands. For example, they consist of accumulations of the protein keratin, which is contained in skin and hair.

Milia are about one to three millimetres in size and feel stiff. They are yellowish-white and appear as small, punctiform bumps on the skin. They are ubiquitous around the eyes, but the rest of the body can also be affected. Milia are not pathological but can be an optical problem. However, it would help if you never expressed milia yourself but always have them removed by a dermatologist or as part of a cosmetic treatment to avoid scarring.

Acne inversa

Unlike acne vulgaris, this skin disease does not typically appear on the face. Acne inversa occurs most commonly in the armpits, groin, genitals, or folds of the chest and abdomen.

Acne inversa is characterized by deep, suppurating, inflamed lumps that can be extremely painful. Larger abscesses and fistulas can also form due to the merging of several knots.

Dyshidrotisches Ekzem (Dyshidrosis)

The skin disease was previously mistakenly associated with a malfunction of the sweat glands. Her name also testifies to this: “Dys” stands for “failure” and “Hidrose” for “sweat”.

An allergic reaction is now the most common trigger for dyshidrotic eczema. It usually appears in small blisters filled with lymphatic fluid, accompanied by severe itching. If the blisters burst, the skin in the affected areas can become cracked and dry.

Dyshidrotic eczema usually occurs on the fingers and palms. But the soles of the feet can also be affected.

Dornwarze (Plantarwarze)

Plantar warts usually appear on the soles of the feet, particularly on the heel or ball of the foot. This skin disease is caused by human papillomavirus. The warts appear as small, flat dots that can become calloused and take on a rough, nodular, and firm shape.

Although harmless, plantar warts can cause pain because they grow into the tissue and press on the nerves when the foot is under pressure. If this is the case, the warts can be treated with salicylic acid or by freezing.

corn (clavus)

Corns are made up of thickened calluses. They form primarily in areas frequently exposed to stress or friction, for example, on the soles of the feet, the toes or the palms of the hands. If corns grow into the lower layers of the skin, it can cause pain when pressure is applied. Corns look very similar to plantar warts. However, the latter often have small, dark spots caused by slight bleeding.

Special plasters can help remove corn. Relieving the affected skin area by wearing less tight shoes can also support the treatment.


boil is a reddened, purulent lump of skin. In appearance, it resembles a vast pus pimple. Since it affects the deeper layers of the skin, it causes much more severe pain.

The hair follicle and surrounding connective tissue are inflamed in a boil. Bacteria usually cause this inflammation. A boil can appear anywhere where hair grows. However, it is most common on the buttocks, chest, neck, thighs, groin, nose and armpits.


An abscess is a cavity in the tissue filled with pus. An abscess usually occurs as a result of a bacterial infection. It can occur anywhere in the body, for example, in the abdomen or liver. However, an abscess occurs most frequently on the skin, as this often comes into contact with bacteria. Typical signs of an abscess are redness and swelling. The affected area hurts and is sensitive to pressure.

An abscess usually heals on its own. However, medical advice should be sought for facial abscesses because, in rare cases, bacteria can travel from the abscess to the brain and cause inflammation or blood clots. Even if fever co-occurs with the abscess, you should consult a doctor.

Age warts (seborrheic keratosis)

Age warts, also known medically as seborrheic keratosis or basal cell papillomas, are benign changes in the skin that can occur increasingly from age 40. They are most common on the front of the arms, hands, torso and face. Age warts are light brown to dark brown; their diameter is a few millimetres to about two centimetres. The senile warts are sharply demarcated to the surrounding skin. The surface is raised and often feels slightly greasy.

 Age warts are not dangerous, but it is often not easy for the layperson to distinguish them from malignant skin cancer, which is why a doctor should check them.

Polymorphic light eruption (sun allergy)

Polymorphic light eruption is colloquially referred to as “sun allergy” because it usually occurs when there is a change from less to more frequent and more substantial exposure to the sun (winter to spring). Polymorphic light eruption is the most common allergic skin reaction triggered by sunlight, more precisely by UV radiation.

The polymorphic light eruption can manifest itself through very different symptoms. The reaction often begins with flat, itchy redness. In some cases, blisters, skin swelling or small nodules appear. These signs do not have to appear immediately but can also only appear after a few hours or days. Sun allergy occurs particularly often on skin areas increasingly exposed to the sun when temperatures rise: on the arms, legs, décolleté, neck and shoulders.

Granuloma annulare

Granuloma annulare is a blemish that spreads out in a ring (annular) shape on the skin. The bumps are skin-coloured to reddish. Young people are particularly often affected by the skin disease. Granuloma annulare occurs primarily on the feet, hands, fingers, and toes but can also affect the arms, legs, face, and buttocks.

The bumps usually heal without any problems. Sometimes, they are associated with slight itching. Otherwise, they do not cause any symptoms.

Mallorca-Acne (Acne aestivalis)

The so-called Mallorca acne is a form of sun allergy and not acne. The fact that Mallorca acne is caused by an interaction between UV-A rays of the sun and emulsifiers or fats often contained in sunscreen is now doubted. Cases of Mallorca acne have also been observed in people who have not used sunscreen or other skin care products.

Above all, Mallorca acne occurs on the face, neck, arms and back. It is characterized by slightly raised papules about two to four millimetres in size. The skin is inflamed and itchy. Unlike acne, pus or blackheads (comedones) are not formed.

hand, foot and mouth disease

Enteroviruses usually cause hand, mouth and foot disease. The infection commonly affects children but can also occur in adults. The first signs are fever and sore throat; after one or two days, red spots with blistering appear on the gums, oral mucosa and tongue.

In addition, a red, non-itchy rash appears on the skin, which may be raised or flat. Blisters can also form here. In addition to the soles of the feet and palms of the hands, the red spots on the skin can also appear on the elbows and knees as well as on the bottom and in the genital area.

Lichen sclerosis

Lichen sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease. It can appear anywhere on the body but is particularly common on the genitals and anal area. Typical symptoms are redness and the formation of white scales or white skin hardening. If the disease occurs in the anal or genital area, it is often associated with itching and pain.

It makes sense to treat as early as possible to avoid scarring and an increased risk of developing carcinomas.


If, for example, bruises appear on the arms and legs, there can be very different causes behind them. A common trigger is a bump or blow that ruptures a blood vessel near the skin’s surface. This can also happen unconsciously, for example, during sports.

A person’s age can also increase the likelihood of a blood vessel rupturing and bruising. Another possible cause is blood-thinning medication, which ensures that bleeding through the body stops more slowly. In addition, the frequent occurrence of bruises can indicate a lack of vitamin C or K.

In rare cases, bruising can be a symptom of a severe medical condition. These include leukaemia diseases of the bone marrow or thyroid. Then, as a rule, other symptoms appear. Medical advice should always be sought if such a condition is suspected.


Parchment skin occurs primarily in the elderly or those with diabetes mellitus who have undergone radiation therapy or are taking glucocorticoids regularly. Parchment skin can be recognized by the fact that the skin is dehydrated, thin and not very elastic. The veins are usually clearly visible, and the skin has a slightly grey-blue tint.

In addition, parchment skin is often associated with itching and scaling. In addition, since the skin is susceptible, it is easier to injure and bruise the skin tissue. Wound healing can also be slowed down.


A dermatofibrosarcoma, also called dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP), is a very rare skin tumor. It is most common in the shoulders or trunk (particularly the chest, back, or abdomen) and does not cause pain.

Dermatofibrosarcoma is skin-coloured, reddish or, more rarely, yellow-brown. It appears nodular in the early stages but spreads out over time. The tumour can also spread under the skin. The skin then appears thickened in these areas.

keratosis pilaris

Keratosis pilaris is a keratinization disorder of the skin. This is not dangerous to health but can be perceived as visually disturbing by those affected. A keratosis pilaris is reminiscent of permanent goosebumps. The small pimples are white or reddish; the skin feels dry and rough. There is usually no itching or pain.

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