Dermatologists are physicians who have undergone training in the diagnosis and treatment of any disorder affecting the hair, skin or nails - such as acne or dandruff.

Watch an Overview of Dermatology

About Dermatology

Dermatologists perform a variety of diagnoses and treatments relating to diseases of the skin, hair, and nails. Common skin diseases treated include skin cancer, warts, dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, cold sores, and fungal infections, among others. Dermatologists may perform a variety of treatment procedures for their patients, including acne scar removal (typically achieved through dermabrasions), chemical peels, collagen injections, laser resurfacing, punch grafts, or autologous fat transfers.

Dermatologists may also employ shave biopsies, which are generally performed to remove a small surface growth while examining its nature at the same time. Dermatologists also perform punch biopsies, which are usually performed to cut a piece of the skin suffering from rashes or growths in a ‘cookie cutter’ fashion - this procedure often includes the utilization of a local anesthetic. Another procedure is Grenz Rays Therapy, where Grenz rays (a mild form of radiation) are used toward the end of treatment for mycosis fungoides, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema, among others. UVB Phototherapy is typically performed to treat skin diseases and eruptions using type B ultraviolet light (UVB), the sunlight responsible for everyday sunburn. PUVA phototherapy is typically utilized to treat psoriasis and other severe skin conditions through a combination of the oral drug Psoralen (P) and long wave ultraviolet radiation (UVA). Electrodesiccation and Curettage (ED&C) are performed to remove skin growths, benign growths, pre-cancers, and less severe skin cancers through burning or scraping off the skin growth; this procedure often includes the utilization of a local anesthetic.

Dermatologists may also employ intralesional injections to treat psoriasis, chronic eczema and acne cysts by introducing a specific medication into the skin via a very small needle. Cryotherapy is used to remove scars, warts, acne, skin growths, and some skin cancers by spraying liquid nitrogen onto the area in question and freezing it, causing a peel, blister, or scab. Dermatologists also perform a host of other procedures and treatments.

Dermatology Education & Training

After earning an undergraduate and MD or DO medical degree, a physician training to become a dermatologist must complete a one year internship, receiving supplemental medical training at a hospital or clinic. Physicians on a dermatology track usually complete an internship in general surgery, internal medicine, family medicine, pediatrics, or emergency medicine. Following successful completion of an internship, the dermatologist-in-training must then complete a residency program that focuses on the field of dermatology.

Dermatological residencies are highly sought after by physicians, as there is stiff competition for a very few amount of actual residential positions. Once accepted into a dermatological residency program, the dermatology resident begins to interact with patients in a clinical setting, diagnosing and treating over 3,000 skin, hair, and nail diseases and disorders. During this period, the resident is trained in the various surgical procedures found in dermatology through hands-on, supervised training. These procedures may include nail and skin biopsies, procedures relating to the removal of skin cancers, procedures relating to the removal of warts and moles, as well as various injection procedures (such as Botox).

Some dermatologists may choose to advance their dermatological education and subspecialize within the field by pursuing a fellowship. A dermatological fellowship allows for extended, specialized medical education in a subspecialty of dermatology such as procedural dermatology, aesthetic or cosmetic dermatology, dermatopathology, pediatric dermatology, immunodermatology, dermatological research, or Mohs surgery specialization. Following successful completion of a residency or fellowship, many dermatologists pursue board certification through the American Board of Dermatology.