What is a Dermatologist?
Dermatologists are physicians who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the skin, hair and nails. There are many professionals who claim to be Dermatologists, but true Dermatologists have received eight years of medical training including four years of medical school, an internship, and three years of advanced training in Dermatology. After training, a properly trained Dermatologist who passes the certification exam is board certified by the American Board of Dermatology and becomes a Diplomate of the American Board of Dermatology. This individual is then eligible to become Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology if certain qualifications are met.
What does a Dermatologist treat?
There are hundreds of conditions that a Dermatologist can diagnose and treat. In very simple terms, a Dermatologist treats “lesions” and “rashes.” Some of these include:
- Skin Cancer (Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, Melanoma)
- Actinic Keratosis (pre-cancerous lesions)
- Molluscum Contagiosum
- Irritated “Moles”
- Irritated Seborrheic Keratoses
- Skin Tags
- Keloids (“thick scars”)
- Pyogenic Granuloma
- Allergic Skin Rashes (Allergic Contact Dermatitis)
- Alopecia Areata (a type of hair loss)
- Athlete’s Foot
- Atopic Dermatitis (“Eczema”)
- Bacterial Infections
- Bullous Diseases (blistering diseases)
- Cutaneous T-cell Lymphoma (mycosis fungoides)
- Diaper Dermatitis (diaper rash)
- Drug Eruptions
- Fungal Infections
- Hair Loss and Disorders
- Hand Eczema
- Herpes Simplex
- Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
- Insect Bites
- Lupus Erythematosus
- Nail Problems
- Poison Ivy, Sumac & Oak
- Tinea (“Ringworm”)
- Tinea Versicolor
- Urticaria (Hives)
Who needs to see a dermatologist?
Virtually everyone has a skin problem at some point in their life. When the problem is bad enough to bother them, then a Dermatologist should be seen. Dermatologists see patients from very young (newborns) to very elderly (90+ year olds).
How often should I see a dermatologist?
Patients at risk for skin cancer or with family history of skin cancer should see their dermatologist at least once a year to get a full body skin examination. Patients with a previous history of skin cancer or strong family history of skin cancer may need to be examined more frequently such as twice a year.
Certain rashes may require only one visit, but many rashes require at least one follow up to ensure that the medication is working properly without any side effects. Certain skin conditions like acne or psoriasis require routine follow up because these are chronic skin conditions.