Dermatology is the medical specialty concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the skin, hair and nails. Areas of practice include medical adult and pediatric dermatology, cosmetic dermatology, cutaneous oncology and dermatologic surgery.
A dermatologist is a physician with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with benign and malignant disorders of the skin, mouth, external genitalia, hair and nails. Experts in the management of cosmetic disorders of the skin including hair loss and scars, dermatologists have extensive training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers, melanomas, moles, and other tumors of the skin, contact dermatitis and other allergic and non-allergic disorders, and in the recognition of the skin manifestations of systemic and infectious diseases, including internal malignancy.
Certification for dermatologists includes four years of post-graduate residency training with three years of intensive training in dermatopathology and dermatologic surgery and an examination administered by the American Board of Dermatology. Dermatologists can diagnose and treat a wide variety of dermatologic conditions as well as benign and malignant skin tumors, and can also advise patients on the prevention of skin diseases and skin cancers.
Dermatologists employ a variety of treatment methods including externally applied, injected, and internal medications, selected x-ray and ultraviolet light therapy, and a range of dermatologic surgical procedures. Dermatologists are trained in various forms of dermatologic surgery including electrosurgery, cryosurgery with the use of freezing surgical units, laser surgery, nail surgery, biopsy techniques and excisional surgery with appropriate closures, including flaps and grafts.
Dermatologists utilize several different techniques for the correction of cosmetic defects such as dermabrasion, chemical facial peels, hair transplants, injections of materials into the skin for scar revision, sclerosis of veins, and laser surgery of vascular lesions of the skin, including certain birthmarks. Patients may come directly to a dermatologist or may be referred by another physician. A certified specialist in dermatology may subspecialize and become certified for Special Qualification in areas such as Mohs micrographic surgery, Pediatric Dermatology, and Dermatopathology.
Dermatologists receive four or more years of training beyond medical school and are experts in skin, hair and nail disorders. They have developed and introduced most of the innovative cosmetic procedures in the last fifty years. These procedures include: treatments for acne scarring, sun damage, wrinkles, fine lines and brown spots, Mohs micrographic surgery for skin cancer, dermabrasion, hair transplantation, chemical peels, laser surgery, tumescent liposuction which has made liposuction a safe procedure, sclerotherapy for leg veins, fat transfer, Botox®, fillers like collagen, Restylane® and Sculptra®, laser resurfacing, facial rejuvenation, and high-tech vein treatments. Shouldn’t you trust your skin to an expert? For more specific information, please see FAQs under Adult Dermatology.
A pediatric dermatologist is a dermatologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating disorders of the skin, hair, and nails in infants and children. After dermatology residency, extra study and training are needed to become a pediatric dermatologist. Skin diseases can present and affect children differently than adults. Understanding the genetics behind skin development, congenital diseases, birthmarks such as port-wine stains and hemangiomas, viruses of the skin such as warts and molluscum, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis and autoimmune processes of the skin are reasons why extra training is required to be a leader in pediatric dermatology. Therapeutic dosing and medication regimens frequently differ in the pediatric population. Special care is required to examine and perform surgical procedures in children, and a pediatric dermatologist understands these differences.