Dictionary of descriptive and metaphoric terminology (full text)

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Description This chapter provides a dictionary of descriptive and metaphoric terminology
Author(s) Harald Kittler · Ralph P. Braun
Responsible author Harald Kittler→ send e-mail
Status unknown
Status update June 28, 2019
Status by Ralph P. Braun



Descriptive terminology Metaphoric terminology Significance†
lines reticular pigment network melanocytic lesions dermatofibroma solar lentigo
lines reticular and thick broadened network melanoma
lines reticular and thin delicate network melanocytic nevi
lines reticular and thick or reticular lines that vary in color atypical pigment network melanoma
lines reticular white melanoma Spitz nevus dermatofibroma
lines reticular hypopigmented around brown clods negative pigment network (former synonyms: inverse network reticular depigmentation) melanoma Spitz nevus
lines white perpendicular* shiny white streaks (former synonyms: chrysalis chrysalids crystalline) melanoma BCC Spitz nevus dermatofibroma
lines branched branched streaks melanocytic lesion
lines radial (always at periphery) streaks Reed nevus melanoma recurrent nevus
lines radial and segmental radial streaming melanoma recurrent nevi
lines radial connected to a common base leaf like areas (sometimes variously shaped large clods have also been termed leaf like areas) BCC
lines radial converging to a central dot or clod spoke wheel area (sometimes a clod within a clod has also been termed spoke-wheel area/concentric structure) BCC
lines curved and thick cerebriform pattern (former synonyms: “brain-like appearance”) to describe the pattern and fissures and ridges (former synonyms “gyry and sulci” and “fat fingers”) to describe the structural components of the pattern SK
lines brown curved parallel thin fingerprinting solar lentigo
lines curved and thick in combination with clods crypts SK
lines parallel short crossing ridges (volar skin) fibrillar pattern acral nevi
lines parallel thick on the ridges (volar skin) parallel ridge pattern acral melanoma
lines parallel thin in the furrows and crossing the ridges (volar skin) lattice-like pattern acral nevi
lines parallel thin in the furrows (volar skin) parallel furrows pattern acral nevi
lines angulated or polygonal (facial skin) rhomboids lentigo maligna
lines angulated or polygonal (non-facial skin) angulated lines/polygons/zig-zag pattern lentiginous melanomas (non-facial non-acral)


Descriptive terminology Metaphoric terminology Significance†
clods small round or oval globules various diagnoses
clods brown circumferential rim of brown globules growing nevi
clods brown yellow or orange (rarely black) comedo-like openings SK
clods brown or blue concentric (clod within a clod) concentric globules BCC
clods brown or skin colored large and polygonal cobblestone pattern dermal nevi
clods blue large clustered blue-gray ovoid nests BCC
clods blue small blue globules BCC
clod within a clod (concentric clods) variant of spoke wheel area BCC
clods white shiny* shiny white blotches and strands BCC
clods pink and small milky red globules melanoma
clods red or purple red lacunes hemangioma


Descriptive terminology Metaphoric terminology Significance†
dots any color granularity or granules various diagnoses
dots gray peppering Melanoma LPLK
dots gray and circles gray annular-granular pattern lentigo maligna
dots or clods white clustered or disseminated milia like cysts cloudy or starry SK
dots white four arranged in a square* rosettes various diagnoses but mainly AK SCC actinic damaged skin
dots peripheral arranged in lines linear dots pigmented Bowen disease
dots brown central (in the center of hypopigmented spaces between reticular lines) targetoid dots congenital nevi


Descriptive terminology Metaphoric terminology Significance†
circles white SCC
circles concentric circle within a circle lentigo maligna
circles incomplete asymmetric pigmented follicular openings lentigo maligna


Descriptive terminology Metaphoric terminology Significance†
pseudopods circumferential or lines radial circumferential starburst pattern Reed nevus


Descriptive terminology Metaphoric terminology Significance†
structureless zone brown or black blotch If centric hypermelanotic Clark (“dysplastic”) nevus if eccentric melanoma
structureless zone blue blue-whitish veil melanoma
structureless zone pink milky red areas melanoma
structureless zone white scar-like depigmentation melanoma
structureless zone white central central white patch dermatofibroma
structureless zone polychromatic rainbow pattern various diagnoses
structureless red interrupted by follicular openings strawberry pattern actinic keratosis
structureless brown (tan) eccentric melanoma
structureless any color homogenous pattern various diagnoses
structureless brown interrupted by follicular openings (facial-skin) pseudo-network facial pigmented lesions


Descriptive terminology Metaphoric terminology Significance†
sharply demarcated scalloped border moth eaten border solar lentigo

* only visible by polarized dermoscopy † significance varies depending on context

Abbreviations used: BCC basal cell carcinoma; SK seborrheic keratosis; SCC squamous cell carcinoma; LPLK lichen planus-like keratosis: AK actinic keratosis

  1. Kittler et al.: Standardization of terminology in dermoscopy/dermatoscopy: Results of the third consensus conference of the International Society of Dermoscopy. J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 2016;74:1093-106. PMID: 26896294. DOI.
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