Dermatology is the branch of medicine dealing with the skin.
[ Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. Random House, Inc. 2001. Page 537. .] It is a speciality with both medical and surgical aspects. A dermatologist is a specialist doctor who manages diseases related to skin, hair and nails and some cosmetic problems.
Attested in English in 1819, the word dermatology
derives from the Ancient Greek
δέρματος ( dermatos
), genitive of δέρμα ( derma
[ δέρμα, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus]
(itself from δέρω dero
, "to flay"
[ δέρω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library]
) and -λογία
In 1801 the first great school of dermatology became a reality at the famous Hôpital Saint-Louis in Paris, and the first textbooks (Willan's, 1798–1808) and atlases (Alibert's, 1806–1814) appeared in print around the same time.
[Freedberg, et al. (2003). Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill Professional. Page 3. .]
After earning a medical degree (M.D. or D.O.), the length of training in the United States for a general dermatologist to be eligible for Board Certification by the American Academy of Dermatology, American Board of Dermatology or the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology is a total of four years. This training consists of an initial medical, transitional, surgical, or pediatric intern year followed by a three-year dermatology residency.
Following this training, one- or two- year post-residency fellow ships are available in immunodermatology, phototherapy
, laser medicine
, Mohs micrographic surgery, cosmetic surgery
, or pediatric dermatology. For the past several years, dermatology residency positions in the United States have been one of the most competitive to obtain.
The United States has been experiencing a national shortage of dermatologists for more than a decade. A study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association reported fewer than 3.4 dermatologists for every 100,000 people.
In the UK, a dermatologist is a medically qualified practitioner who has gone on to specialize in medicine and then sub-specialize in dermatology. This involves:
Medical school for five years to obtain an MBBS, MBBCh or MB, BChir degree.
Two years of Foundation rotations in various specialties.
Two to three years training in general medicine to obtain a higher degree in medicine and become a member of the Royal College of Physicians.
Having obtained the MRCP examination, applying to become a Specialty Registrar (StR) in Dermatology and training for four years in dermatology.
Passing the Specialty Certificate Examination (SCE) in Dermatology before the end of training.
Upon successful completion of the four-year training period, the doctor becomes an accredited dermatologist and is able to apply for a consultant hospital post as a consultant dermatologist.
Dermatologists have been leaders in the field of cosmetic surgery.
[James, William; Berger, Timothy; Elston, Dirk (2005). Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology (10th ed.). Saunders. Page 895. .]
Some dermatologists complete fellowships in surgical dermatology. Many are trained in their residency on the use of botulinum toxin
, fillers, and laser surgery. Some dermatologists perform cosmetic procedures including liposuction
Most dermatologists limit their cosmetic practice to minimally invasive procedures. Despite an absence of formal guidelines from the American Board of Dermatology, many cosmetic fellowships are offered in both surgery and laser medicine.
A dermatopathologist is a pathologist
or dermatologist who specializes in the pathology
of the skin.
This field is shared by dermatologists and pathologists. Usually, a dermatologist or pathologist will complete one year of dermatopathology fellowship. This usually includes six months of general pathology, and six months of dermatopathology.
Alumni of both specialties can qualify as dermatopathologists. At the completion of a standard residency in dermatology, many dermatologists are also competent at dermatopathology. Some dermatopathologists qualify to sit for their examinations by completing a residency in dermatology and one in pathology.
Trichology specializes in diseases, which manifest with hair loss, hair abnormalities, hypertrichosis
and scalp changes. Trichoscopy
is a medical diagnostic method, which is used by dermatologists with a special interest in trichology.
This field specializes in the treatment of immune-mediated skin diseases such as lupus
, bullous pemphigoid, pemphigus vulgaris, and other immune-mediated skin disorders.
Specialists in this field often run their own immunopathology labs.Immunodermatology testing is essential for the correct diagnosis and treatment of many diseases affecting epithelial organs including skin, mucous membranes, gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. The various diseases often overlap in clinical and histological presentation and, although the diseases themselves are not common, may present with features of common skin disorders such as urticaria, eczema and chronic itch. Therefore, the diagnosis of an immunodermatological disease is often delayed. Tests are performed on blood and tissues that are sent to various laboratories from medical facilities and referring physicians across the United States.
The dermatologic subspecialty called Mohs surgery
focuses on the excision of skin cancers using a technique that allows intraoperative assessment of most of the peripheral and deep tumor margins developed in the 1930s by Dr. Frederic E. Mohs. The procedure is defined as a type of CCPDMA
processing. Physicians trained in this technique must be comfortable with both pathology and surgery, and dermatologists receive extensive training in both during their residency. Physicians who perform Mohs surgery can receive training in this specialized technique during their dermatology residency, but many will seek additional training either through preceptorships to join the American Society for Mohs Surgery
or through formal one to two years Mohs surgery fellowship training programs administered by the American College of Mohs Surgery.
This technique requires the integration of the same doctor in two different capacities: surgeon as well as pathologist. In case either of the two responsibilities is assigned to another doctor or qualified health care professional, it will not be considered to be Mohs surgery.
Physicians can qualify for this specialization by completing both a pediatric residency and a dermatology residency. Or they might elect to complete a post-residency fellowship.
This field encompasses the complex diseases of the
, hereditary skin diseases or genodermatosis
, and the many difficulties of working with the pediatric
is a form of dermatological practice where telecommunication technologies are used to exchange medical information and treatment through audio, visual, and data communication, including photos of dermatologic conditions, between dermatologists and non-dermatologists who are evaluating patients, along with dermatologists directly with patients via distance.
[Burg G, Soyer H.P, Chimenti S. (2005): Teledermatology In: Frisch P, Burgdorf W.: EDF White Book, Skin Diseases in Europe. Berlin, 130-133] [Douglas A. Perednia, M.D., Nancy A. Brown, M.L.S., OregonHealthSciencesUniversity Teledermatology: one application of telemedicine]
This subspecialty deals with options to view skin conditions over a large distance to provide knowledge exchange,
to establish second-opinion services for experts,
or to use this for follow-up of individuals with chronic skin conditions.
[Ebner et al. 2006 e&i] [H. Peter Soyer, Rainer Hofmann-Wellenhof, Cesare Massone, Gerald Gabler, Huiting Dong, Fezal Ozdemir, Giuseppe Argenziano telederm.org: Freely Available Online Consultations in Dermatology]
Teledermatology can reduce wait times by allowing dermatologists to treat minor conditions online while serious conditions requiring immediate care are given priority for appointments.
Dermatoepidemiology is the study of skin disease at the population level.
One aspect of dermatoepidemiology is the determination of the global burden of skin diseases
From 1990 to 2013, skin disease constituted approximately 2% of total global disease disability
as measured in disability adjusted life years (DALYS).
Therapies provided by dermatologists include, but are not restricted to the following:
Excision and treatment of skin cancer
Cryosurgery – for the treatment of warts, skin cancers, and other dermatoses.
Cosmetic filler injections
Intralesional treatment – with steroid or chemotherapy.
Laser therapy – for both the management of birth marks, skin disorders (like vitiligo), tattoo removal, and cosmetic resurfacing and rejuvenation.
Chemical peels for the treatment of acne, melasma, and sun damage
Photodynamic therapy – for the treatment of skin cancer and precancerous growths.
Phototherapy – including the use of narrowband UVB, broadband UVB, psoralen and UVB.
Tattoo removal with laser.
Tumescent liposuction – liposuction was invented by a gynecology. A dermatologist (Dr. Jeffrey A. Klein) adapted the procedure to local infusion of dilute anesthetic called tumescent liposuction. This method is now widely practiced by dermatologists, plastic surgeons and gynecologists.
Radiation therapy – although rarely practiced by dermatologists, many dermatologist continue to provide radiation therapy in their office.
Vitiligo surgery – Including procedures like autologous melanocyte transplant, Suction blister and punch grafting.
Allergy testing – 'Patch testing' for contact dermatitis.
Systemic therapies – including antibiotics, immunomodulators, and novel injectable products.
Topical therapies – dermatologists have the best understanding of the numerous products and compounds used topically in medicine.
Most dermatologic pharmacology can be categorized based on the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System, specifically the ATC code D.
American Academy of Dermatology
American Board of Dermatology
American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology
British Association of Dermatologists
History of dermatology
List of cutaneous conditions
List of dermatologists