What is a Dermatologist?

What is a Dermatologist?

Dermatologists are medical practitioners who have chosen to focus their practice on skin care. Often referred to as skin doctors, these specialists are highly trained in the treatment and general care of human skin on all parts of the body. When problems with the skin arise, they are most often called upon to reach a diagnosis and prescribe a course of treatment. A dermatologist can also diagnose and treat disorders and ailments that affect the nails, hair, and scalp.

Conditions, Treatments and Procedures that a Dermatologist Performs

Skin disorders can range from common conditions like acne to more serious cases such as skin cancer. Other conditions that can be diagnosed and treated by dermatologists include rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, and numerous others. A dermatologist often is also responsible for helping patients with burns and scars from previous accidents or injuries. Cosmetic dermatologists typically work with patients to perform procedures such as tattoo removal, skin rejuvenation, and laser treatments. A limited number of doctors who practice cosmetic dermatology also perform more invasive procedures like facelifts and liposuction.

Many patients visit skin doctors for problems like acne and eczema that can be managed with prescribed topical treatments while others are referred to dermatologists by their regular doctor for afflictions that may be more severe. Biopsies are commonly performed to test patients for various forms of skin cancers. Other common treatments include cryosurgery to remove warts and skin cancer by freezing, laser therapy for the treatment of scars, birthmarks, and signs of aging, and cosmetic filler injections that are intended to fill fine lines and wrinkles and give patients a more youthful appearance. Dermatologists may also treat skin cancer patients with radiation or chemotherapy, but patients are most often referred to oncologists for these procedures.

Training, Educations and Certifications to become a Dermatologist

Medical students who have chosen to work primarily with the skin undergo extensive training beyond receiving a medical degree. After earning their degree and successfully completing a general internship with a hospital, they must undergo an additional three to four years of training to qualify as experts on the skin, hair, and nails.

While all skin specialists are highly trained in general dermatology, some choose to focus on a particular area of the field. These specialized sectors of the dermatology field include pediatrics, surgical procedures, and cosmetic dermatology. Dermapathology is another sub-specialty. Dermatologists working in this field specialize in the pathology, or study of disease, of the skin and have advanced training in both dermatology and pathology.


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