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Put your knowledge of skin pathology to the test with this dermatology quiz. Check out our guide to taking a dermatological history here.

Dermatology quiz

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Question 1
An elderly lady presents to her doctor with a raised, round discoloured plaque, ‘stuck on appearance’ on her face. What skin condition is this?
A
Rubella
B
Seborrheic keratosis
C
Basal cell carcinoma
D
Melasma
Question 1 Explanation: 
Seborrheic keratosis is a benign squamous proliferation and is seen frequently in the elderly.
Question 2
How does lichen planus present clinically?
A
Salmon coloured plaques with silvery scale
B
Pruritic, red, oozing rash with edema
C
Golden coloured crusts
D
Pruritic, purple, polygonal, planar papules and plaques
Question 2 Explanation: 
Learn the 6 P’s of lichen planus. It also often occurs with reticular white lines on the mucosal surfaces (Wickham striae). There is an association with hepatitis C.
Question 3
What is the best indicator of prognosis for a melanoma?
A
Asymmetry
B
Colour
C
Diameter
D
Invasion of the dermis
Question 3 Explanation: 
Invasion/ depth of extension measured by Breslow thickness is the most significant prognostic factor in predicting metastasis. Asymmetry, border irregularity, colour variation and diameter (>6mm) are known as the ‘ABCD’ criteria for describing melanomas.
Question 4
What is a precursor to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)?
A
Keratoacanthoma
B
Actinic keratosis
C
Leser-Trélat sign
D
Measles
Question 4 Explanation: 
Actinic keratosis is a premalignant lesion to SCC, caused by prolonged sun exposure. It presents as scaly, rough, erythematous and small plaques, most commonly on the face, back or neck.
Question 5
What is the pathogenesis of vitiligo?
A
Congenital lack of pigmentation
B
Increase in the number of melanosomes
C
Autoimmune destruction of melanocytes
D
Benign proliferation of melanocytes
Question 5 Explanation: 
Vitiligo is the localised loss of skin pigmentation due to the autoimmune destruction of melanocytes. Melanocytes synthesise melanin in melanosomes. Thus, if melanocytes are destroyed, melanin cannot be produced.
Question 6
What skin condition is caused by poxvirus?
A
Verruca
B
Molluscum contagiosum
C
Impetigo
D
Cellulitis
Question 6 Explanation: 
Molluscum contagiosum is an umbilicated papule. It is commonly seen in children and sexually transmitted in adults.
Question 7
What disease is associated with dermatitis herpetiformis?
A
Herpes
B
Coeliac disease
C
Atopic dermatitis
D
Melanoma
Question 7 Explanation: 
In coeliac disease, there are IgA antibodies against gluten that cross react with reticulin fibres that anchor the basement membrane to the dermis. Thus, IgA is deposited at the tips of dermal papillae, presenting as grouped pruritic vesicles, papules or bullae. Usually found on elbows.
Question 8
Do people with albinism have an increased risk of skin cancer?
A
True
B
False
Question 8 Explanation: 
Albinism is the congenital lack of pigmentation. Melanin is protective against UVB, thus persons afflicted with the disorder would be more susceptible to UVB induced DNA damage, increasing the risk of basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
Question 9
What disorder is characterised by an initial ‘herald patch’ which is then followed by scaly erythematous plaques usually in a ‘Christmas tree’ distribution?
A
Pityriasis rosea
B
Herpes
C
Varicella zoster virus
D
Erysipelas
Question 9 Explanation: 
Pityriasis rosea classically presents with a salmon coloured solitary patch ‘herald patch’ which enlarges over a few days followed by generalised bilateral and symmetric macules with collarette scale. Pruritus is sometimes present. It self resolves within 6 – 8 weeks.
Question 10
How does impetigo present?
A
Golden honey coloured crust over an erythematous base
B
Salmon coloured plaque with silvery scale
C
Comedones, pustules and nodules
D
Flesh coloured papule with a rough surface
Question 10 Explanation: 
Impetigo is a superficial skin infection caused by Staph aureus or Strep pyogenes. It frequently affects children. It is treated with penicillin and topical preparations e.g. mupirocin.
Question 11
What condition is associated with this presentation? – A pink pearly nodule with telangiectasias, ulceration and rolled borders on the upper lip.
A
Squamous cell carcinoma
B
Basal cell carcinoma
C
Melanoma
D
Eczema
Question 11 Explanation: 
This is a classical presentation of basal cell carcinoma, a malignant proliferation of basal cells and the most common skin cancer. Risk factors include excessive sunlight exposure, xeroderma pigmentosum and albinism. Treatment is surgical excision.
Question 12
What is Leser-Trélat sign?
A
Sudden appearance of multiple seborrheic keratosis and is an indicator of a gastrointestinal tract carcinoma.
B
A left supraclavicular node associated with gastric carcinoma
C
Metastasis of gastric carcinoma to the periumbilical region
D
Metastasis of gastric carcinoma to the bilateral ovaries
Question 12 Explanation: 
Note that the presentation of gastric carcinoma can include Leser-Trélat sign, Virchow node, Sister Mary Joseph nodule and Krukenberg tumour.
Question 13
What type of melanoma is often seen in dark skinned individuals?
A
Superficial spreading
B
Lentigo maligna melanoma
C
Nodular
D
Acral lentiginous
Question 13 Explanation: 
The acral lentiginous variant of melanoma arises in dark skinned individuals on their palms or soles. It is not linked to UVB induced DNA damage unlike the other types (this was the disease that caused the death of Bob Marley).
Question 14
What are the histological findings of psoriasis?
A
Inflammation of the dermal-epidermal junction
B
Peripheral palisading of basal cells
C
Acanthosis, Parakeratosis and Munro microabscesses
D
Keratin pseudocysts
Question 14 Explanation: 
Psoriasis is as a result of increased keratinocyte proliferation. It presents as salmon coloured papules and plaques with silvery scaling, especially on extensor surfaces and scalp. On histology, there is epidermal hyperplasia (acanthosis), hyperkeratosis with retention of nuclei in stratum corneum (parakeratosis) and groups of neutrophils in the stratum corneum (Munro microabscesses).
Question 15
What condition is associated with acanthosis nigricans?
A
Type 2 diabetes and gastric adenocarcinoma
B
Rubella
C
Varicella zoster
D
Basal cell carcinoma
Question 15 Explanation: 
Acanthosis nigricans is epidermal hyperplasia with darkening of the skin, especially in the axilla, neck or groin. It is associated with malignancy especially GIT adenocarcinoma or insulin resistance as seen in type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Question 16
What is the infective agent implicated in acne?
A
Staphylococcus aureus
B
Streptococcus pyogenes
C
Staphylococcus epidermidis
D
Propionibacterium acnes
Question 16 Explanation: 
Propionibacterium acnes infection produces lipases resulting in inflammation and breakdown of sebum, leading to pustule formation.
Question 17
What is the most common causative agent of erythema multiforme (EM)?
A
Penicillin and sulphonamides
B
Systemic lupus erythematosus
C
HSV infection
D
Malignancy
Question 17 Explanation: 
HSV is the most common etiologic agent of EM, which presents as a targetoid rash and bullae. All the other options are also associated with the disorder, but less commonly.
Question 18
What childhood infection is associated with Koplik spots?
A
Measles
B
Rubella
C
Varicella
D
Fifth disease
Question 18 Explanation: 
Measles is a paramyxovirus. Koplik spots are small bright red spots with a white centre on the buccal mucosa that precede the measles rash by 1-2 days and are pathognomonic for measles. Measles present initially with cough, coryza and conjunctivitis then the Koplik spots. Eventually a maculopapular rash develops, beginning at the head/neck and spreading downwards.
Question 19
What is the most common mole found in adults?
A
Junctional nevus
B
Compound nevus
C
Intradermal nevus
D
Congenital nevus
Question 19 Explanation: 
A mole/nevus is a benign neoplasm of melanocytes. It can be congenital or acquired. If acquired, it progresses from a junctional nevus (most common in children) to a compound nevus and eventually to an intradermal nevus. Note that the mole can undergo dysplasia and the dysplastic nevus is a precursor to melanoma.
Question 20
What is the pathogenesis of pemphigus vulgaris?
A
IgG antibody against desmoglein
B
IgG antibody against hemidesmosome components
C
Autoimmune deposition of IgA at tips of dermal papillae
D
Enzyme defect in tyrosinase
Question 20 Explanation: 
Desmosomes are located in the stratum spinosum between keratinocytes. Antibodies against the desmoglein component result in painful flaccid bullae or blisters that rupture easily on both skin and oral mucosa. It is treated with corticosteroids.
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