Not sure what a medical term means? Can’t decide which treatment would be best for your skin condition? We’ve put together a handy glossary of commonly used medical skincare terms below with links to the appropriate treatment pages.


Acne is a common skin disease characterized by pimples on the face, chest, and back. It occurs when the pores of the skin become clogged with oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria.

Age spots

A non-specific lay term for red-brown skin lesions associated with ageing, e.g. pigmented seborrheic keratosis and lentigo senilis.


An abnormal growth produced by the dilatation or new formation of blood vessels.


Blepharoplasty is a cosmetic surgical procedure that removes fat deposits, excess tissue or muscle from the eyelids to improve the appearance of the eyes.


A trademark for a preparation of botulinum toxin, used to treat a range of medical problems, including hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating), and to smooth facial wrinkles.

Botulinum Toxin

A neurotoxin formed by botulinum that causes botulism and that is injected in a purified form for therapeutic and cosmetic purposes.

Breast augmentation

A procedure for enlarging breasts that are small, under-developed or have lost volume after pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Breast reduction

A surgical procedure performed in order to decrease the size of the breasts.

Brown spots

See ‘Age spots’.

Campbell de Morgan spots

A congenital anomaly in which proliferation of blood vessels leads to a mass resembling a neoplasm; primary seen on skin and in subcutaneous tissue – the incidence increases with age.

Care Quality Commission

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is an executive non-departmental public body of the Department of Health. It was established in 2009 to regulate and inspect health and social care services in England.

Cherry Angiomas

Fairly common cherry red papules on the skin that vary in size. They contain an abnormal proliferation of blood vessels and are the most common type of angioma. They can occur almost anywhere on the body, but usually develop on the trunk. They are most common after the age of 30. The cause is unknown, but they tend to be inherited (genetic).

Crows’ feet

A wrinkle extending from the outer corner of the eye – usually used in plural.


Abnormal, closed sac-like structures within a tissue that contain a liquid, gaseous, or semi-solid substance. Cysts can occur anywhere in the body and can vary in size. The outer, or capsular, portion of the cyst is termed the ‘cyst wall’.


A dermaroller is a skin needling device with many small surgical needles. Dermarollers come in needle lengths between 0.13 and 3 mm. The needle diameter (thickness) is approximately 0.25 mm at their base.

Dermatosis Papulosa Nigra

Dermatosis papulosa nigra (DPN) is a benign cutaneous condition common among black adults. It is usually characterized by multiple, small, hyperpigmented, asymptomatic papules on the face.

Earlobe repair

A generic term for any repair of the earlobe. A common reason for this is to repair an elongated or torn ear piercing.

Facial redness

Facial redness is a generic term to describe a red, flushed complexion. It can be caused by problems such as Rosacea, thread veins, acne, contact reactions, perimenopause, or even by a symptom of Lupus.

Facial veins

Any of several veins draining the face.

Frown lines

A facial wrinkle associated with frowning.

General Medical Council

A fee-based registered charity with statutory obligation to maintain a register of medical practitioners within the United Kingdom.

Glycolic peels

A skin peel made from glycolic acid – this is an organic acid, found naturally in unripe grapes and in the leaves of the wild grape, and produced artificially to create a substance that has the properties of both an alcohol and an acid.


Gynaecomastia (sometimes referred to as “man boobs”) is a common condition that causes boys’ and men’s breasts to swell and become larger than normal.

Hyaluronic acid

A substance that is naturally present in the human body and can help treat various joint disorders as well as promoting healthy skin. It acts as a lubricant in the joints and other tissues in the body. From our late 20s, our body’s natural supply of hyaluronic acid starts to deplete. Skin fillers use a synthetically manufactured form of hyaluronic acid to replace this lost substance.


Abnormally excessive sweating.

Ingrown hair

A hair that does not emerge from the follicle but remains embedded in the skin (usually causing inflammation).

Keloid scars

A red, raised formation of fibrous scar tissue caused by excessive tissue repair in response to trauma or surgical incision.

Laser hair removal

The process of removing unwanted hair by means of exposure to pulses of laser light that destroy the hair follicle. The primary principle behind laser hair removal is selective photothemolysis (SPTL) – this is the matching of a specific wavelength of light and pulse duration to obtain optimal effect on targeted tissue with minimum damage to the surrounding tissue. Lasers target melanin, which is a dark matter in the hair follicle, to destroy it. This is why they are more effective on dark hair than on white, grey or blonde hair.


A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. In fact, the word laser actually originated as the acronym: Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

See also: Facial veins, Laser hair removal, Laser skin tightening, Sun damage, Tattoo removal

Leg veins

See ‘Varicose veins’ and ‘thread veins’


A flat brownish pigmented spot on the skin, due to increased deposition of melanin and an increased number of melanocytes (cells that produce pigment).

Lentigo senilis

Also known as Actinic lentigo – this is an often multifocal lesion that affects the sun-exposed skin of the elderly. It is characterised by reticulated ‘black ink’ spots not present in unaffected regions.


A benign, soft and rubbery encapsulated tumour of adipose tissue, usually composed of mature fat cells.


A cosmetic surgery procedure, also known as lipoplasty or suction-assisted lipectomy, to remove unwanted deposits of fat from under the skin. Using liposuction, the doctor is able to sculpt and re-contour the patient’s body by removing excess fat deposits that have been resistant to diet or exercise. The fat is permanently removed from under the skin using a suction device.

Marionette lines

A name given to the deep, age-related wrinkles that develop at the angle of the nose, the corners of the lips and the chin.

Meibomian Cysts

Inflammation of the sebaceous gland of the eyelid.


A dark insoluble pigment found in humans in the skin, hair, choroid layer of the eye, and a part of the brain called the substantia nigra.

See also: Dermaroller, Laser hair removal, Microdermabrasion, Skin Peels, Sun damage


Sharply demarcated, blotchy brown area of skin, usually in a symmetrical distribution on the cheeks and forehead, and sometimes on the upper lip and neck. Associated with pregnancy and other altered hormonal states.


A cosmetic procedure in which all or part of the outer 5 layers (‘stratum corneum’) of the epidermis is removed by light abrasion. This procedure is used to improve the appearance of sun-damage, hyperpigmentation and scarring. It is more superficial than normal dermabrasion, does not require anaesthesia and is a fast treatment, after which you can return to your normal activities. Microdermabrasion delivers the best results for lesions such as fine lines and age spots.


Tiny white bumps or small cysts on the skin, Milia occur when dead skin becomes trapped in small pockets at the surface of the skin or mouth. Although they are most common in newborn infants, adults may develop milia on the face or on parts of the body that are inflamed or injured. Rough sheets or clothing may irritate the skin and cause mild reddening around the bump, while the middle of the bump will stay white.


A small congenital growth on the skin, usually slightly raised and dark and sometimes hairy.


Any new and abnormal growth, specifically one in which cell multiplication is uncontrolled and progressive. Neoplasms may be benign or malignant.


Colouration, either normal or pathologic, of the skin or tissues resulting from a deposit of pigment.

See also: Dermaroller, Microdermabrasion, Skin peels, Sun damage

Pilondial Cyst

A cyst (sometimes referred to as a pilonidal abscess, pilonidal sinus or sacrococcygeal fistula) near or to the natal left of the buttocks that often contains hair and skin debris.

Polycystic ovary syndrome

A condition characterised by the accumulation of numerous cysts on the ovaries, associated with high male hormone levels, absent ovulation and other metabolic disturbances. Classic symptoms include excess facial and body hair, acne, obesity, irregular menstrual cycles and infertility.

Port Wine Stains

A type of haemangioma (non-malignant tumour of blood vessels) seen as a purplish birthmark, often large and on the face or neck.


A chronic dermatitis of the face, especially of the nose and cheeks, which is caused by dilation of capillaries and characterised by a red or rosy colouration and acne-like pimples.


A treatment for varicose veins, haemorrhoids, and bleeding in which blood flow is diverted and the veins collapsed by injecting a hardening solution into them.

Seborrheic Keratosis

A skin condition characterised by circumscribed wart-like lesions that can be itch and covered with a greasy crust.

Skin fillers

Also known as ‘dermal fillers’, they are an ‘injectable’ cosmetic procedure which uses hyaluronic acid to plump up fine lines, wrinkles and some scarring. They can also be used to augment the lips and cheeks by restoring volume and definition.

See also: Lip enhancement

Skin peels

Also known as ‘chemical peels’, in this treatment a chemical solution is applied to the skin to make it ‘blister’ and eventually peel off. The new skin is usually smoother and healthier looking than the old skin.

Skin tags

A skin tag is a small tag of skin which may have a peduncle (stalk); they look like a small piece of soft, hanging skin.

Smokers’ lines

Also known as ‘lipstick lines’ and ‘vertical lines’, smokers’ line are vertical wrinkles that appear around the lips. Although not exclusively seen in smokers, they are much more common because of the smoke damage and because smoking requires you to perform a repeated action that eventually shows as wrinkles.

Spider Naevi

A dilation of superficial capillaries with a central red dot from which blood vessels radiate.

TCA peels

Skin or chemical peels made from trichloroacetic acid.

Thread lifting

A thread lift is a minimally invasive cosmetic enhancement technique that lifts sagging skin on the face and neck using surgical suture threads.

Thread veins

A small red or purple capillary near to the surface of the skin.


The use of ultrasonic waves for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes, specifically to image an internal body structure, to monitor a developing foetus, or to generate localised hear to the tissues.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins near the surface of the skin. They are most common in the legs and ankles. Although they usually aren’t serious, they can sometimes lead to other problems and can be cosmetically troubling. Varicose veins are caused by weakened valves and veins in your legs.


Localised growths of the epidermis caused by a viral infection. They include filiform warts, plantar warts and venereal warts.