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Dermatology – Dermatologist

Dermatology

Dermatology is the sub-division/branch of science that is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the skin, hair and nails.

More comprehensively:

Dermatology involves but is not limited to study, research, and diagnosis of normal and disorders, diseases, cancers, cosmetic and ageing conditions of the skin, fat, hair, nails and oral and genital membranes, and the management of these by different investigations and therapies, including but not limited to dermatohistopathology, topical and systemic medications, dermatologic surgery and dermatologic cosmetic surgery, immunotherapy, phototherapy, laser therapy, radiotherapy and photodynamic therapy.

The skin is the largest and most visible organ of the body. It reflects the health of the body and acts as a barrier against injury and bacteria. Unfortunately, at one time or another, nearly everyone has some type of skin disease – infants, children, teenagers, adults and the elderly. One in six (15%) of all visits to the family doctor (GP) involves a skin problem.

Dermatologist

A dermatologist is a physician who has expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of  patients of all ages with benign and malignant disorders of the skin, mouth, external genitalia, hair, and nails, as well as a number of sexually transmitted diseases.

A dermatologist is a doctor with specialization to specifically treat the:

  • Skin.
  • Hair.
  • Nails.
  • Mucous membranes (e.g., lining inside the mouth, nose, and eyelids.)

Currently dermatologists diagnose and treat more than 3,000 different diseases. These diseases include skin cancer, eczema, acne, psoriasis, nail infections and other allergic and non-allergic disorders. The dermatologist also has expertise in the management of cosmetic disorders of the skin such as hair loss and scars.

Dermatologists also get trained to improve the appearance of their patients’ skin, hair, and nails. For example, a dermatologist can help patients:

  • Diminish wrinkles, age spots, and other signs of aging.
  • Have less noticeable acne scars.
  • Look more like themselves after surgery to remove skin cancer.

Dermatologists see patients of all ages — from newborns to people older than 100 years of age.

Cosmetic dermatologist

Dermatologists receive training in:

  • Medical dermatology: Diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases that affect the skin, hair and nails.
  • Dermatopathology: Diagnose diseases that affect the skin, hair, and nails by removing a sample and examining the sample with a microscope.
  • Surgical dermatology: Treat diseases that affect the skin, hair, and nails by using a surgical procedure.
  • Cosmetic dermatology: Treat the skin, hair, or nails using a treatment that is meant to improve a patient’s appearance rather than treat a disease.

Many dermatologists perform all of the above. Examples of treatments dermatologists perform that fall into the area of cosmetic dermatology include:

  • Surgery to diminish acne scars.
  • Injecting fillers and botulinum toxins to give an aging face a more youthful appearance.
  • Laser surgery to diminish or remove small veins, age spots, tattoos, or wrinkles.

Because of their unique training, dermatologists have the medical knowledge and skills necessary to safely perform many cosmetic procedures.

Dermatopathologist

To accurately diagnose your medical condition, your dermatologist may remove a tiny sample of your skin, hair, or nail. This sample is often examined by a dermatopathologist.

A dermatopathologist is a medical doctor. This doctor specializes in dermatology and pathology.

Pathology is a branch of medicine that studies causes and effects of diseases. Most pathology work takes place in a laboratory. A dermatopathologist diagnoses diseases of the skin, hair, and nails by looking at samples under a microscope.

Board-certified dermatologist

To be a board-certified dermatologist in the United States requires many years of education. One must successfully complete:

  1. College, earning a bachelor’s degree.
  2. Medical school, becoming a medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO).
  3. Internship, 1 year of required medical training.
  4. An accredited dermatology residency program, at least 3 years.

After successfully completing the residency program, one can become a board-certified dermatologist by:

  • Having a license to practice medicine.
  • Passing the exams given by the American Board of Dermatology, the American Osteopathic Association, or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
  • Meeting other requirements.

The board exams test the doctor’s knowledge, experience, and skills. All of the above are essential to provide quality patient care in dermatology.