email 212-988-2400 Map Menu

Monica L. Halem, MD | NYC Board Certified Dermatologist

988 FIFTH AVENUE | NEW YORK, NY 10075 | 212-988-2400


Glossary of Conditions

Acne: occurs when the pores of the skin become clogged with oil, dead skin cells and bacteria. Affected areas exhibit redness and pimples.

Acne Scars: Acne scars are usually the result of inflamed blemishes caused by skin pores engorged with excess oil, dead skin cells and bacteria. The pore swells, causing a break in the follicle wall. Shallow lesions are usually minor and heal quickly. But if there is a deep break in the wall of the pore, infected material can spill out into surrounding tissue, creating deeper lesions. The skin attempts to repair these lesions by forming new collagen fibers. These repairs usually aren’t as smooth and flawless as the original skin

Actinic Keratosis (sun spots): Actinic keratosis occurs when the skin has sustained too much sun exposure and damage, they appear as crusty bumps. Actinic keratosis may be flesh-colored, brown, pink or red. Affected areas my be inflamed, itch or bleed. Actinic keratosis can develop into skin cancer. For that reason, most dermatologists want to treat these lesions.

Age Spots: As people age, unsightly blemishes – commonly called age spots – can appear on the face and on the back of the hands. The spots – also called lentigines, lentigos or liver spots – are sharply defined, rounded, brown or black, flat patches of skin.

Aging Hands: collagen and fat in the hands dissipates, veins and tendons can take on a pronounced appearance, making the hands look bony and unattractive.

Aging Skin: The process of aging due to changes in the structure and elasticity of the skin over time. It may be a part of physiological aging or it may be due to the effects of ultraviolet radiation, usually through exposure to sunlight.

Basal Cell Carcinoma: Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common form of skin cancer. More than two million cases of this skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. This skin cancer usually develops on skin that gets sun exposure, such as on the head, neck, and back of the hands. BCC is especially common on the face, often forming on the nose. It is possible to get BCC on any part of the body, including the trunk, legs, and arms. People who use tanning beds have a much higher risk of getting BCC. They also tend to get BCC earlier in life. This type of skin cancer grows slowly. It rarely spreads to other parts of the body. Treatment is important because BCC can grow wide and deep, destroying skin tissue and bone.

Birthmarks: Many people are born with birthmarks. For others, they appear within the first few weeks of life. Birthmarks can be brown, tan, blue, pink or red. Vascular birthmarks are made up of blood vessels bunched together in the skin. They can be flat or raised, pink, red or bluish discolorations. Pigmented birthmarks are flat, light brown patches on the skin that can occur anywhere on the body. The exact cause of birthmarks is unknown.

Broken Capillaries: Broken capillaries are commonly found on the cheeks or nose area these appear as small red / pink threads under the skins surface, most. Broken capillaries occur when the capillary walls narrow and widen too quickly causing the muscles in the walls to tear. This in turn allows the blood to seep out resulting in broken capillaries. Dehydrated, dry and sensitive skins often have thin skin that provides less protection and therefore, these skin types are the most commonly effected.

Crows feet: Crow’s feet are the fine lines that form around the eyes. They are primarily caused by sun exposure, but smoking can contribute to their formation.

Dark Eye Circles: are blood vessels that can be seen through the skin. The skin around the eyelids (periorbital skin) is the thinnest skin in the body (around 0.5 mm thick compared with 2mm in other areas). Like varicose veins, dark circles under the eyes are usually an inherited trait.

Dermatitis: Eczema is a general term. Dermatologists use it to describe skin conditions that can cause the skin to swell and discolor. The skin is often dry and itchy. Sometimes blisters form. The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis. When people say “eczema,” this is often what they mean — but not always. If your dermatologist diagnoses you with eczema, your dermatologist may use the word “dermatitis.” The words “eczema” and “dermatitis” often mean the same thing. Below, you’ll find skin conditions often called “eczema” and ones often called “dermatitis.

Droopy Eyelids: Loose or droopy eyelids can be moderate to the degree that they are hardly noticeable to so severe that they restrict vision. The condition may gradually worsen over time.

Dry Skin: also called xerosis, is a very common skin condition that occurs at all ages. Usually, it doesn’t represent a serious problem but sometimes it can be difficult to treat.

Dysplastic Nevus: DYSPLASTIC NEVI (atypical moles) are unusual benign moles that may resemble melanoma. People who have them are at increased risk of developing single or multiple melanomas.

Excessive Sweating: Excessive sweating, or hyperhidrosis, is a common disorder affecting many people. While normal sweating regulates body temperature, people suffering from hyperhidrosis exhibit sweating that exceeds the body’s need for thermal regulation. The disorder is an inherited problem. Hyperhidrosis typically manifests in four forms: Palm sweating Underarm sweating Foot sweating Facial Sweating

Eczema: a medical condition in which patches of skin become rough and inflamed, with blisters that cause itching and bleeding, sometimes resulting from a reaction to irritation (eczematous dermatitis) but more typically having no obvious external cause.

Enlarged pores: People who have skin that is naturally thick and oily tend to have larger pores. As people get older, too, sun damage and decreased skin elasticity can cause pores to dilate. The skin thickens, causing tiny cells to collect around the edge of the pores and make them look larger.

Facial Redness: Facial redness can be caused by a number of conditions, including rosacea, broken blood vessels from sun damage, seborrhea and acne. These conditions may be congenital or onset with age.

Fine Lines & Wrinkles: Frown lines are the result of gathering or knitting the tissue between the eyebrows into a fold. They are caused by the repeated action of underlying muscles associated with facial expression. Years of squinting and frowning tend to leave deep wrinkles in the skin between the eyebrows and on the bridge of the nose, across the forehead and at the corners of the eyes.

Hair Loss: Also known as Alopecia. The average adult has 90,000 to 150,000 hairs. Most grow about one inch every two months. Loss of anywhere from 50 to 100 hairs per day is normal. Hair loss beyond this rate may be due to Genetics and hormones. These are the most frequent cause of hair loss. This predisposition to balding is referred to as male pattern baldness, common baldness or androgenic alopecia.Stress brought on by traumatic experience, nutritional deficiency or severe illness.Medication side effects.Other medical conditions such as anemia, under-active thyroid or fungal infection of the scalp.Improper hair care caused by harsh chemicals or dyes, too frequent shampooing or combing or vigorous toweling.

Impetigo: a contagious bacterial skin infection forming pustules and yellow, crusty sores.

Keloids: These bumps can show up after ear piercing. They’re more likely to happen in African Americans, although no one knows why. Surgery, medicine, and even freezing these bumps with a special chemical can help make them smaller, though it’s hard to get rid of them completely.

Linchen Planus: Many people get lichen (LY-kin) planus (PLAN-us). This disease can develop on one or several parts of the body. It can appear on the skin or inside the mouth. Sometimes, it appears in both places. Lichen planus can even change the way a person’s fingernails or toenails look. It also can appear on the genitals or a person’s scalp.

Melanoma: Melanoma is a type of skin cancer. Anyone can get melanoma. When found early and treated, the cure rate is nearly 100%.

Melasma: Melasma (muh-LAZ-muh) is a common skin problem. It causes brown to gray-brown patches on the face. Most people get it on their cheeks, bridge of their nose, forehead, chin, and above their upper lip. It also can appear on other parts of the body that get lots of sun, such as the forearms and neck.

Moles: Moles: Moles are small skin marks caused by pigment producing cells in the skin. They can be flat or raised, smooth or rough, and some contain hair. They may occur anywhere on the body. Most are dark brown or black, but some are flesh-colored, red or yellow. They can change in appearance over time. Some can develop into cancer. Benign moles are generally smaller than the size of a pencil eraser.

Oily Skin: Oily skin (seborrhea) is caused by excess skin oil (sebum). During puberty, increased androgen levels, which are male hormones present in both males and females, signal the oil glands of the skin to mature. At this time the body begins producing much more skin oil. For some people, oil glands go into overdrive and the skin takes on an oily look. This oily appearance normally subsides to some degree after puberty, but can persist into adulthood, and is often seasonal, coinciding with humid weather.

Photodynamic Therapy (PDT): Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a treatment that uses special drugs, called photosensitizing agents, along with light to kill cancer cells. The drugs only work after they have been activated or “turned on” by certain kinds of light. PDT may also be called photoradiation therapy, phototherapy, or photochemotherapy

The body does not shed these excess skin cells. The skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin, causing patches of psoriasis to appear.

Psoriasis: Psoriasis (sore-EYE-ah-sis) is a chronic (long-lasting) disease. It develops when a person’s immune system sends faulty signals that tell skin cells to grow too quickly. New skin cells form in days rather than weeks.

Rosacea: Rosacea is a common skin condition that affects people over the age of 30. It causes redness – and sometimes small bumps or pimples – on the nose, cheeks, chin and forehead. It also can cause burning and soreness in the eyes. The condition worsens when the blood vessels in the face expand. Common triggers are exercise, sun and wind exposure, hot weather, stress, spicy foods, alcohol, temperature swings and hot baths.

Seborrhea: This is a chronic skin condition in which one or more persistent, red, scaly and dry patches of skin appear on the face. It can occur on the hairline, forehead, neck, ears and facial skin. It rarely occurs solely on the face.

Shingles (herpes zoster): This disease often causes a painful, blistering rash. Anyone who has had chickenpox can get shingles. After the chickenpox clears, the virus stays in the body. If the virus reactivates (wakes up), the result is shingles — a painful, blistering rash. Shingles is most common in older adults. A vaccine, which can prevent shingles, is available to people ages 50 and older. Dermatologists recommend this vaccine for everyone 50 and older.

Skin Cancer: One in five Americans will develop some type of skin cancer over the course of their lifetimes. With early detection and treatment, however, most skin cancers are completely curable.

Skin Rash: A skin rash is an area of skin that has become swollen or irritated. Skin rashes can include skin bumps or sores, scaly or red skin, and itchy or burning skin. Skin rashes can be caused by many medical conditions.

Skin Tightening: Tightening of Sagging of the lower face – or jowls – and thin, wrinkled skin on the neck are two of the most dramatic signs of age and aging skin.

Spider Veins: Spider veins are formed by the dilation of a small group of blood vessels located close to the surface of the skin. Although they can appear anywhere on the body, spider veins are most commonly found on the face and legs. They usually pose no health hazard but may produce a dull aching in the legs after prolonged standing and indicate more severe venous disease.

Stretch Marks: Stretch marks are caused when pregnancy stretches belly skin. The condition is hereditary, so women whose mothers had stretch marks following pregnancy are likely to acquire them as well. Stretch marks also can occur after a large amount of weight is gained or lost. They may also develop after taking certain strong medications such as steroids. Stretch marks can appear pink, reddish brown, brown, or dark brown, and fade over time to a more silvery-white color.

Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC): Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is a common skin cancer in humans. About 700,000 new cases of this skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. This skin cancer tends to develop on skin that has been exposed to the sun for years. It is most frequently seen on sun-exposed areas, such as the head, neck, and back of the hands. Women frequently get SCC on their lower legs. It is possible to get SCC on any part of the body, including the inside of the mouth, lips, and genitals. People who use tanning beds have a much higher risk of getting SCC. They also tend to get SCC earlier in life.SCC can spread to other parts of the body. With early diagnosis and treatment, SCC is highly curable.

Sun Damage: Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun can cause premature skin aging, skin cancer and other conditions such as: Skin texture changes, such as coarse wrinkles, especially on the back of the neck, and fine wrinkles caused by thinning of the skin, especially on the forearms and back of hands.Excessive bruising from minor trauma.Pigment changes, such as brown spots, freckles, age spots and liver spots.White spots on legs, arms and the back of hands.Red areas on the sides of the neck.Moles, some of which can develop into skin cancer.Pre-cancerous skin changes, including red scaly lesions called actinic keratosis and lesions on the lips called actinic cheilitis, both of which can develop into squamous cell carcinoma.

Unwanted Hair: Hair removal lasers beam highly concentrated light specifically into hair follicles, where it is absorbed by the pigment in the follicle, destroying the hair. Various types of lasers are used with laser hair removal – the most common are the alexandrite, diode, Neodymium YAG and intense pulsed light sources. The procedure was originally designed to remove dark hairs on light skin. New technologies have made the procedure safer for patients with darker skin.

Varicose Veins: Varicose veins are abnormally swollen or enlarged blood vessels caused by a weakening in the vein’s wall. They occur primarily in the legs but can appear in the arms and other parts of the body as well. They can be harmful to a patient’s health because they may be associated with the development of one or more of the following conditions: Phlebitis or an inflamed, tender vein Thrombosis or a clot in the vein Venous stasis ulcers and/or open sores from inadequate tissue oxygen and fluid retention.

Vascular lesions: Vascular malformations are congenital malformations of capillaries, veins, lymphatic vessels, or arteries. They may also exist as a combination of different types of vessels (eg, the arteriovenous malformation). These malformations may further be divided into high-flow or low-flow lesions based on the vessel type.

Vitiligo (skin discoloration): Vitiligo is a condition in which the skin loses melanin, the pigment that determines color. The disease evolves slowly with enlarging white irregular patches on the skin. The most common areas affected by vitiligo are above the eyes and on the neck, armpits, elbows, genitalia, hands and knees.

Warts: Warts are benign (not cancerous) skin growths that appear when a virus infects the top layer of the skin. Viruses that cause warts are called human papillomavirus (HPV). You are more likely to get one of these viruses if you cut or damage your skin in some way. Wart viruses are contagious. Warts can spread by contact with the wart or something that touched the wart.

Wrinkles: Wrinkle creases begin to appear as the underlying collagen and elastin fibers begin to break down and wear out. While this breakdown is part of the natural aging process, wrinkled skin also can result from sun exposure, excessive squinting, frowning, smoking and smiling.