Dermatology is a branch of medicine concerned with diagnosis and treatment of diseases and disorders of the skin. Dermatologists also study the structure and function of the skin, and the relationship between skin pathologies and malfunctions of other organs of the body. Dermatology often overlaps the practice of other medical specialties, e.g., neurology and internal medicine.
Scope of the Field
Dermatologists are physicians (medical doctors) specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and tumors of the skin and its appendages. There are medical and surgical sides to the specialty. Dermatologic surgeons practice skin cancer surgery (including Mohs’ micrographic surgery), laser surgery, photodynamic therapy (PDT) and cosmetic procedures using botulinum toxin (‘Botox’), soft tissue fillers, sclerotherapy and liposuction. Dermatopathologists interpret tissue under the microscope (histopathology).
Pediatric dermatologists specialize in the diagnoses and treatment of skin disease in children. Immunodermatologists specialize in the diagnosis and management of skin diseases driven by an altered immune system including blistering (bullous) diseases like pemphigus. In addition, there are a wide range of congenital syndromes managed by dermatologists.
The skin is obviously accessible to topical local therapy. Antibiotic creams can help eliminate infections, while inflammatory skin diseases (such as eczema and psoriasis) often respond to steroid creams or topical anthralin. Dermatologists are innovators of new immune enhancing treatments, like topical imiquimod for superficial cancers and injection immunotherapy for warts as discussed below.
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