About Dermatologist Speciality
A dermatologist is a healthcare professional who is trained to diagnose and treat children and adults with benign and malignant disorders of the same.
The medical field of dermatology involves the study, research, diagnosis, and management of any health conditions that may affect the skin, hair or nails. With professional expertise, a dermatologist may help you keep skin, nails and hair healthy throughout your lifetime.
Although precise educational requirements and training programs vary according to the country of practice, a dermatologist normally requires completing medical school and residency (minimum 9 years) before starting a specialised training program in the field of dermatology.
The specialization in dermatology usually takes at least four years of intensive study, research and practice in the field. Some dermatologists receive additional training and knowledge in specific areas of dermatology, such as paediatrics, surgery or cosmetics.
A medical professional who has additional training and expertise in the evaluation and management of skin diseases which occur commonly in children is known as a paediatric dermatologist. Some medical conditions treated by a paediatric dermatologist include all types of birthmarks, neonatal dermatology, genetic disorders of the skin, paediatric infections or inflammatory processes and skin diseases in children.
When do we need a dermatologist?
Dermatologists are distinctively trained which helps them spot probable problems with the skin, hair or nails. They can diagnose and treat a multitude of conditions that range from minor to life-threatening.
Experience and know-how of a dermatologist can improve the lives of patients of all ages, for e.g. an infant with a red birthmark, a child with psoriasis, a senior citizen with shingle infections and many more. Dermatologists are also an important source of learning how to take care of skin, hair, and nails. They can teach you how to protect yourself from the sun to avoid sunburn or skin cancer. They can caution you against early baldness or prevent common conditions such as nail fungus.
What skin conditions does a dermatologist normally treat?
Conditions of the hair, skin, or nails are very common and almost everyone experiences some symptoms or the other at least once in their lifetime. Some medical conditions which a dermatologist normally treats include the following.
It is a skin condition that occurs when hair follicles come in contact with oil and dead skin cells. Acne is very common in teenagers and young adults. Pimples, blackheads and bumps are certain types of acne.
Symptoms of acne
Symptoms include whiteheads, blackheads, tender bumps, pimples, painful lumps beneath the surface of the skin, pus-filled lumps beneath the surface of the skin etc.
Treatment of acne
A dermatologist may prescribe over-the-counter medicines, creams or ointments.
Dermatitis refers to inflammations of the skin. It is generally recognised in the form of a blister, crust or flake off. Common forms of dermatitis include atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis.
Symptoms of Dermatitis
Symptoms include red, itchy rash inside the elbows, behind the knees and the front of the neck, irritation of skin causing an allergic reaction, scaly patches, red skin and stubborn dandruff.
Treatment of Dermatitis
A dermatologist may prescribe dietary supplements, fish oil supplements and aloe vera to treat various types of dermatitis.
Eczema is a group of medical conditions that lead to irritated or swelled skin. The most common type of eczema is atopic eczema.
Symptoms of Eczema
Rashes appearing on the face, knees, hands, back are symptoms of eczema.
Treatment of Eczema
A dermatologist may prescribe over-the-counter antihistamines to relieve itching.
Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune condition that causes the rapid build-up of skin cells. This build-up of cells causes scaling on the skin’s surface. Scales normally develop on joints, such elbows and knees.
Symptoms of Psoriasis
Symptoms include inflamed patches of skin, soreness around patches, painful, swollen joints etc.
Treatment of Psoriasis
A dermatologist may prescribe topical corticosteroids, topical retinoids, and vitamin D analogues to treat psoriasis.
Fungal Infections of Skin
Some common types of fungal infections are athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm that can affect any part of the skin as well as scalp, onychomycosis that affects the nails and nail beds, and candidiasis that can infect the mouth, vagina, and urinary tract.
Symptoms of Fungal Infections of Skin
Symptoms include rashes, purple patches, shedding of the skin with flakes, cracks in the skin, soreness, erythema, which results in areas of redness, red and white lesions in your mouth etc.
Treatment of Fungal Infections of Skin
A dermatologist may prescribe topical drugs such as creams, gels, lotions, solutions or oral tablets to treat fungal infections.
Warts are small, fleshy bump on the skin mainly caused by human papillomavirus. Warts can be spread from one location on the body to another via skin-to-skin contact.
Symptoms of Warts
Symptoms include small, fleshy, grainy bumps, flesh-coloured, white, pink or tan, sprinkled with black pinpoints, which are small, clotted blood vessels.
Treatment of Warts
A dermatologist may prescribe topical medication and removal through medical procedures to treat warts. Pulsed-dye laser treatment, cryotherapy, stronger peeling medicine are some of the treatment options for warts.
Cold sore is an infection around the lips caused mainly by herpes simplex virus. It can easily spread through skin-to-skin contact via kissing.
Symptoms of Cold sore
Symptoms include itching, burning or tingling sensation around lips, fluid-filled blisters and shallow open sores.
Treatment of Cold sore
A dermatologist may prescribe over-the-counter medicines such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, famciclovir or penciclovir to speed up healing and reduce recurrence.
Measles, also known as rubeola, is a highly contagious infection, primarily of the nose, windpipe and lungs which can easily spread from person to person.
Symptoms of Rubeola (Measles)
Symptoms include total-body skin rash accompanied by fever, cough, red eyes with tearing and runny nose.
Treatment of Rubeola (Measles)
There is no specific treatment for measles. Measles symptoms are generally treated with acetaminophen to reduce fever and relieve discomfort. People with weak immune system are given Ribavirin- An anti-viral medicine but it is not approved by FDA.
Vitiligo is a medical condition characterised by loss of skin colour in patches. It is difficult to predict the extent of colour loss.
Symptoms of Vitiligo
Symptoms include skin discoloration, premature whitening or greying of the hair on your scalp, Loss of colour in mucous membranes, Loss of or change in colour of the retina, loss of colour around the armpits, navel, genitals and rectum.
Treatment of Vitiligo
A dermatologist may prescribe a topical corticosteroid to retain colour of the skin, topical calcipotriene, ointments containing tacrolimus or pimecrolimus, combining a drug called psoralen with light therapy (photochemotherapy), light therapy, laser therapy, etc. Surgical procedures such as skin grafting, blister grafting and tattooing may be used by dermatologists.
Cellulitis is a bacterial skin infection caused by staphylococcus or streptococcus bacteria. It can become a potential threat if not treated on time.
Symptoms of Cellulitis
Symptoms include skin rash that begins suddenly and spreads quickly, Areas of inflamed red skin that grow larger, tenderness in the affected area, pain, skin that appears tight or stretched etc.
Treatment of Cellulitis
A dermatologist may prescribe a 10-14 day course of oral antibiotics for the treatment of Cellulitis. If pain persists, he may order an over-the-counter pain reliever.
Impetigo is one of the most common and highly contagious skin infections that primarily affect infants and children.
Symptoms of Impetigo
Common signs of impetigo include blisters or sores on the face, neck, hands, and diaper area.
Treatment of Impetigo
A dermatologist may prescribe antibiotic ointment or cream that you apply directly to the sores. For more than one impetigo sore, he may prescribe antibiotic drugs.
Canker Sore (Mouth Ulcers)
Canker sores (Mouth ulcers) are small, shallow lesions that develop on the soft tissues in your mouth or at the base of your gums. They can be painful and can make eating difficult.
Symptoms of Canker sores (Mouth ulcers)
Minor mouth ulcers are small oval or round ulcers, major mouth ulcers are larger and deeper than minor ones. They have abnormal edges.
Treatment of Canker sores (Mouth ulcers)
A dermatologist may prescribe mouth rinse containing the steroid dexamethasone, over-the-counter and prescription products such as benzocaine, fluocinonide, hydrogen peroxide, oral steroid medications when severe mouth ulcers don't respond to other treatments.
Shingles is a painful rash caused by the varicella-zoster virus which is the same virus that causes chickenpox.
Symptoms of Shingles
Symptoms include pain, burning, numbness or tingling, sensitivity to touch, a red rash, fluid-filled blisters accompanied by itching.
Treatment of Shingles
A dermatologist may prescribe antiviral drugs such as Acyclovir, Valacyclovir or Famciclovir for the treatment of Shingles. Additionally, he may also prescribe capsaicin cream, anticonvulsants, tricyclic antidepressants etc.
What hair conditions does a dermatologist normally treat?
Alopecia areata is a hair-loss condition which usually affects the scalp. It causes one or more patches of hair loss. Alopecia areata affects both males and females.
Symptoms of Alopecia areata
Symptoms include patchy hair loss, itching or burning in the area prior to hair loss.
Treatment of Alopecia areata
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for alopecia areata. A dermatologist may prescribe corticosteroids, powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can suppress the immune system along with a topical ointment application.
Male Pattern Baldness (Androgenic Alopecia)
Male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia is the main cause for the vast majority of hair loss in men.
Symptoms of male pattern baldness
Symptoms include excessive loss of hair, hairline receding from the temples, overall thinning of hair, reduction in the density of hair, bald patch on top of the scalp, partial baldness and complete baldness at a later stage.
Treatment of male pattern baldness
A dermatologist may prescribe minoxidil which is a topical medication applied to the scalp. Minoxidil slows hair loss for some men and stimulates the hair follicles to grow new hair.
Dandruff is a common chronic scalp condition indicated by flaking of the skin on your scalp.
Symptoms of Dandruff
Symptoms include white, oily-looking flakes of dead skin that dot your hair and shoulders.
Treatment of Dandruff
A dermatologist may ask you to use shampoos containing zinc pyrithione, tar, salicylic acid, Selenium sulphide or Ketoconazole.
What nail conditions does a dermatologist normally treat?
Paronychia is an infection in the skin around the fingernails or toenails. It usually affects the skin at the base or up the sides of the nail. Acute and chronic are two forms of paronychia.
Symptoms of paronychia
Symptoms include pain, swelling and redness around the base or the sides of the nail. In severe cases, the nail may separate from the skin.
Treatment of paronychia
A dermatologist may prescribe an antifungal medicine or antibiotic, depending on what is causing the infection along with a steroid cream or a solution made of ethanol and thymol to keep nails clean and dry.
Fungal Nail Infection
Fungal Nail Infection, commonly known as onychomycosis or tinea unguium affects either the fingernails or toenails.
Symptoms of Fungal Nail Infection
Common symptoms include a distorted nail that may lift off from the nail bed, an odour coming from the infected nail or a brittle or thickened nail.
Treatment of Fungal Nail Infection
A dermatologist may prescribe oral antifungal medications such as terbinafine, itraconazole, fluconazole or griseofulvin for the treatment of fungal nail infection.
Koilonychia is a condition in which fingernails become thin and finally get lifted at outer edges. This condition is also called as spoon nails and is caused when there is iron deficiency in the blood.
Symptoms of Koilonychia
Symptoms include spoon shaped nails that are projecting outward in the edges and getting thinner and thinner.
Treatment of Koilonychia
Treatment of Koilonychia starts with replacing the loss of iron in blood in the form of iron supplements.
A dermatologist may perform skin surgery to prevent or control skin diseases such as skin cancer in order to improve aesthetics of the skin or diagnose a condition of the skin.