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What Can Cause a Lesion?

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  • Written By: Marlene Garcia
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 22 March 2014
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Many health conditions cause lesions, but most result from tissue damage, infection, allergies, injury, and cancer. A lesion can appear on the skin, in the bone, or on internal organs. Various types of lesions appear differently, with some creating mild symptoms and others becoming life-threatening. Doctors typically use testing and the patient’s medical history to determine the cause of lesions.

A cold sore or fever blister on the mouth represents a disorder caused by the herpes simplex virus. This contagious condition might start as a blister before forming a crust. Canker sores might appear in groups or as a single sore, but are not contagious. They might be caused by a virus, stress, a deficiency of vitamin B12, or immune system dysfunction. Other mouth sores stem from biting the tongue, cheek, or lip, and damage from a sharp tooth or braces.

Many illnesses can cause a lesion on the skin, ranging from an allergic reaction to skin cancer. A bump, rash, discoloration, or blister might appear anywhere on the body. A common reason lesions develop occurs in the form of acne, caused by hormonal changes during puberty. Allergies might produce hives or an itchy rash. Skin cancer lesions stem from exposure to the sun and commonly appear on the hands, face, and arms.

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Psoriasis might develop at any age, but the cause is uncertain. A rash on the skin identified as psoriasis might be connected to stress, a reaction to medication, infection, or injury. Genetics play a role in this disorder, which often appears with eczema. Other skin lesions might mimic psoriasis, including scabies and skin cancer. Areas on the skin linked to psoriasis usually test high for bacteria.

Growths on the bones usually signal cancer that has metastasized from another area of the body. These are usually very painful and can affect adjacent nerves. The most common form of bone lesions affect the spine and legs. Cancers of the breast, lung, prostate, kidney, and thyroid represent typical diseases that lead to bone lesions.

When a lesion develops in the genital region, it might be caused by a sexually transmitted disease, such as herpes. The human papillomavirus produces a lesion that appears as a genital wart. A precancerous lesion might itch and develop into a cyst. Skin cancer might also occur in the genital region.

Damaged tissue in the brain producing a lesion typically occurs when cells die from injury, infection, or disease. When nerve cells die, they might produce lesions linked to Alzheimer’s disease. A stroke might also produce damage where healthy tissue once existed in blood vessels. Certain brain diseases, such as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy, also cause lesions.

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