What is a dermatologist?
A dermatologist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of the hair, nails, and skin. They can diagnose and treat more than 3,000 diseases of the skin, hair, and nails, as well as cosmetic concerns.
They are experts in skincare and have extensive knowledge and training in the management of cosmetic disorders of the skin (such as acne, warts, hair loss, birthmarks, and scars). They often deal with conditions that are more than just skin deep and may be associated with many diseases of the blood, organs, and organ systems.
Dermatologists may often perform specialized procedures for the diagnosis of conditions related to the skin. They may provide treatments such as:
- Topical (externally applied), injected, and oral medicines
- Ultraviolet (UV) light therapy
- Several surgical procedures on the skin
- Cosmetic procedures, such as chemical peels, micro-dermabrasion (a procedure to exfoliate the skin,) and sclerotherapy (a procedure commonly done to treat certain conditions of the blood vessels)
Dermatologists may have training and experience in areas such as:
- Electrosurgery (surgical use of high-frequency electric current for cutting or destroying tissue)
- Cryosurgery (it involves freezing tissue to treat conditions)
- Laser surgery
- Excision surgery (involving removal by cutting) with appropriate closures (including skin grafts)
What training do dermatologists have?
Dermatologists have extensive training in medicine and dermatology in which they learn to diagnose and treat various diseases of the skin, hair, and nails as well as cosmetic concerns. Their training includes:
- Four years of college to earn a bachelor’s degree
- Four years of medical school to become a medical doctor
- One year of internship
- Three years of residency, working along with experienced doctors and completing 12,000 to 16,000 hours of treating patients
- Some dermatologists may take further advanced training in specific areas, known as fellowships
Are there different types of dermatologists?
Some dermatologists may continue their medical training after becoming board-certified dermatologists. Specialties within dermatology include:
- Dermatopathology: They specialize in both dermatology and pathology. They examine a piece of skin or tissue (biopsy samples) with a microscope to diagnose medical conditions.
- Mohs surgery: Mohs surgeons perform a specialized procedure called Mohs surgery to treat skin cancer.
- Pediatric dermatology: Pediatric dermatologists specialize in treating skin, hair, and nail conditions in children, including infants.
When should I see a dermatologist?
Dermatologists manage thousands of conditions related to the skin, hair, and nails. You may need to see a dermatologist if you have:
- Hair loss (more than usual or normal)
- Nail conditions
- Skin rash
- Moles on the skin, typically those with irregular borders, which are changing in size and shape, or are painful and bleeding.
- Genital sores
- Signs of aging
- Sunburn or sunspots
- Skin discoloration
- Thinning eyelashes
- Excessive sweating
- Yeast infections
- Skin allergies
- Dry, itchy, or irritated skin
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top What Does a Dermatologist Do Related Articles
Baby Skin Care: Tips to Keep Newborn’s Skin HealthyBaby skin care products can help with peeling, rashes, baby acne, and dryness that can develop on a newborn baby's skin. Develop a baby skin care routine to pamper your baby’s skin.
BirthmarkA birthmark is any abnormal mark, spot, or bump that is present in or around the time of birth on the skin of an infant. Types of birthmarks include cafe au lait marks, Mongolian spots, strawberry marks, and others. Depending on the birthmark type, birthmarks can be removed by scalpel surgery, lasers, and rarely radiation.
What Are Boils (Skin Abscesses)?A boil is a skin abscess, a collection of pus localized deep in the skin. There are several different types of boils. Among them are the following: furuncle or carbuncle, cystic acne, hidradenitis suppurativa, and pilonidal cyst.
Cosmetics SlidshowTake this quiz and test your skin savvy on makeup, mascara, and other cosmetic skincare beauty products.
Dry Skin QuizDry, itching, flaky skin? Take the Dry Skin Quiz to learn what's causing your dry skin and what you can do about it beyond lotions and creams.
Eczema QuizDoes dry, itchy, flaky, scaly, red, inflamed skin sound familiar to you? Take the Atopic Eczema (Atopic Dermatitis) Quiz to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatments of this common skin condition.
Melanoma (Skin Cancer)Melanoma is a type of skin cancer which begins in skin cells called melanocytes and affects more than 53,600 people in the United States each year. These melanocytes can grow together to form benign moles which, after a change in size, shape, or color can be a sign of melanoma. Caused by sun exposure, early detection becomes extremely important to avoid a spread to other areas of the body. Diagnosis is confirmed through a biopsy of the abnormal skin and treatment depends on the extent and characteristics of the patient. Metastatic melanoma is melanoma that has spread to various organs.
Mohs Surgery for Skin CancerMohs micrographic surgery is a method of removing skin cancers with a local anesthetic. During the procedure, small layers of skin are removed and examined under a microscope until the skin samples indicate that all the cancer has been removed.
Skin RashThe word "rash" means an outbreak of red bumps on the body. The way people use this term, "a rash" can refer to many different skin conditions. The most common of these are scaly patches of skin and red, itchy bumps or patches all over the place.
Skin BiopsyDuring a skin biopsy, a piece of skin is removed under a local anesthesia and examined using a microscope. The different types of skin biopsy include shave biopsy, punch biopsy, and excisional biopsy. Skin biopsies are performed to diagnose skin growths, skin conditions, and skin cancers.
Skin Cancer QuizWhat causes skin cancer? Take our Skin Cancer Quiz to learn about the risks, symptoms, causes, and treatments for this common skin condition that affects millions of people worldwide.
Skin CancerSkin cancers occur when skin cells undergo malignant transformations and grow into tumors. The most common types of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, are highly curable when they are diagnosed and treated early. Sun exposure, tanning beds, depressed immune system, radiation exposure, and certain viral infections are risk factors for skin cancer. Skin cancers are treated with surgery or radiation. The prognosis of nonmelanoma skin cancers is generally very good.
Kids' Skin ProblemsWhat are the most common skin rashes in children? Learn about childhood eczema, ring worm, chicken pox and more. Get the facts on treatment for childhood skin problems.
Skin Problems: Rosacea, Acne, Shingles, Covid-19 RashesLearn to spot and treat skin conditions commonly found in adults such as acne, Covid-19 rashes, eczema, shingles, psoriasis, rosacea, hives, cold sores, razor bumps, athlete's foot, and more dermatology details.
Skin Tag RemovalA skin tag is a small benign growth of skin that projects from the surrounding skin. Skin tags can vary in appearance (smooth, irregular, flesh colored, dark pigment, raised). Skin tags generally do not cause symptoms unless repeatedly irritated. Treatment for skin tag varies depending on the location on the body.
Skin Test for AllergyAn allergy skin test helps identify triggers for one's allergic reactions. Small amounts of allergy-provoking substances (allergens) are scratched into the skin. Redness and swelling develop if one is allergic to the substance. A positive allergy skin test implies that the person has an IgE antibody response to that substance. The test is rapid, simple, and relatively safe.
What Is CO2 Laser Skin Resurfacing?CO2 laser skin resurfacing is a procedure involving the use of carbon dioxide (CO2) and a skin surface-removing laser (ablative laser) to remove scars, warts and deep wrinkles. CO2 skin laser resurfacing can also be used to treat age spots, sun-damaged skin and superficial to deep hyperpigmentation.