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May 1998

Standard Definitions in Dermatology: The Need for Further Discussion—Reply

Arch Dermatol. 1998;134(5):637-638. doi:

In reply

We thank Reisfeld for his comments. We hoped that our letter on nomenclature would stimulate movement toward a common language for describing dermatologic lesions, and we are pleased with the response we have received from Reisfeld and others. Simple and precise documentation is dependent on a common language, yet a large degree of disparity exists among definitions of basic morphologic terms.

From this state of confusion, we initially constructed a set of definitions of basic dermatologic terms based on a review of 20 current reference books and textbooks of dermatology (E.J.L., and C.E. Crutchfield III, MD, MMB, unpublished data, 1996). When we later found the straightforward definitions proposed by Watt and Jillson1 more than 30 years ago in this journal, we were surprised how closely they matched our new "consensus" definitions. Therefore, we deferred to Watt and Jillson's simple, yet elegant definitions not as an attempt to be comprehensive, but as a first step in promoting the adoption of standard definitions.2 This also emphasized the historical difficulty to establish a uniform system of nomenclature for the basic terms, hence the title of our letter.

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