Are you struggling with skin rashes? Do you have chronic acne that never seems to go away? Your primary doctor may refer you to a dermatologist for such concerns. If you’ve never been to a dermatologist, it’s common to have some misconceptions about them and why you might need one. So, who is a dermatologist, and what do they do?
What is Dermatology?
Dermatology can simply be described as the study of medicine that specializes in treating skin conditions. A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in treating nails, mucous membranes, skin, and hair disorders. All dermatologists undergo extensive training and education in treating skin conditions. The skin is the largest organ in the body. It works by protecting inner organs from injury, damage, and infections from bacteria and parasites. Usually, dermatology is categorized into four areas:
- Surgical dermatology – treats skin conditions through surgical intervention.
- Dermatopathology – deals with the diagnosis of skin diseases through examinations and tests.
- Cosmetic dermatology – the use of treatments to improve the appearance of the skin, nails, and hair.
- Medical dermatology – involves medical diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions.
How to Become a Dermatologist
Similar to most careers in the medical field, becoming a dermatologist demands high levels of education. After completing four years of medical school to obtain an MD or DO, dermatologists are required to complete a year of general internship and then three years of dermatology residency.
To attain accreditation after an internship, a dermatologist will need further education to become board-certified. You can attain certification from the American Board of Dermatology by passing their examination. Board-certified dermatologists must retake board examinations to retain their license to practice dermatology every 10 years.
What Do Dermatologists Treat?
There is a wide range of skin conditions that dermatologists can examine and treat. Their in-depth knowledge and experiences aid them in figuring out the cause of skin disorders and how to eradicate them. These conditions can include acne, fungal skin infections, vitiligo, eczema, psoriasis, ingrowing toenails, hair loss, warts, and skin cancer. However, the full list of things a dermatologist can address is huge and continually growing.
What to Expect During an Appointment
A dermatologist has the skills to conduct medical and cosmetic procedures to treat certain skin conditions. Depending on your preferences and needs, treatment may involve medication, non-surgical intervention, or surgical methods. Most of these procedures occur in-office, where tools and tests are easily accessible. Treatments may include:
- Biopsies – your dermatologist may take a sample of your skin for lab testing to diagnose or rule out certain skin conditions.
- Cosmetic injections – often, this includes Botox injections or fillers that work to improve the appearance of the skin and face. Other treatments like laser systems can also be used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
- Chemical peels – these treatments use concentrated chemical solutions to exfoliate the skin to treat concerns like pigmentation and texture.
- Hair restoration – this can sometimes include hair transplants that may involve surgery. Hair removal through laser methods also falls under a dermatologist’s line of work.
- Microneedling – this procedure involves piercing the skin with a medical-grade dermaroller or stamping pen to jumpstart collagen production and treat concerns like acne scars or pigmentation.
- Mohs surgery – a dermatologist specializing in surgical dermatology may perform Mohs surgery to remove cancerous cells from the skin layer-by-layer with the help of a microscope.
When to Visit a Dermatologist
Most people will turn to their primary physician when seeking treatment for skin disorders. However, a dermatologist can often provide more specialized treatment for clear, healthy skin. To meet with a board-certified dermatologist, contact Kwan Dermatology by calling or filling out our online form.