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Dermatologists: What do they do?

A dermatologist is a physician who specializes in treating disorders and diseases of the skin , hair, nail and mucous membranes.

They may also address cosmetic issues, helping to revitalize the skin , hair, and nail appearance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC) reports that 39 million visits to office-based dermatologists, who were not employed by the federal government, were made in the United States in 2010.

Below, we explore common issues that dermatologists encounter, the treatments they offer, and the qualifications involved.

What is dermatology?

A dermatologist
A person may visit a dermatologist if they are experiencing an issue with their skin, hair, or nails.

Dermatology is a medical discipline that focuses on health problems that affect the skin , hair , nails, and mucous membranes.

The skin is the body’s largest organ. It is also the first line of protection against pathogens and disease, and may be a strong overall health indicator.


Before visiting a dermatologist, it is important to know that he has a full license or certification. Some practitioners call themselves dermatologists in spas and beauty clinics but don’t have the necessary accreditation.

In the US, the American Board of Dermatology, the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology, or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada will certify a qualified dermatologist.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), with more than 20,000 members, is the largest membership dermatology organization in the USA.

A dermatologist must complete both college and medical school as either a medical doctor (MD) or as a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) to qualify for registration with the AAD. They’ll also have a residency that requires 1 year of hands-on work.

Some dermatologists have their names after the initials FAAD. This abbreviation stands for: American Academy of Dermatology Fellow. The dermatologist is indicated as:

  • has a license to practice medicine
  • has passed exams given by either the American Board of Dermatology or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada
  • is a member of the AAD

The AAD offers a search tool to help a nearby dermatologist find people with skin , hair, or nail conditions.

Common conditions

Being a dermatologist needs a great deal of clinical knowledge, including the numerous internal health conditions that can cause symptoms of the skin, for example.

Dermatologists are likely to treat more than 3,000 conditions. Below are some examples of the ones they most frequently see:

Acne: Acne has a range of causes that can lead to different types of pimples, among the most prevalent skin conditions. Some people have scars, low self-esteem and other problems.

Dermatitis and eczema: dermatitis is a skin inflammation, and usually leads to swelling of the itchy rash. There are a variety of forms, including atopic dermatitis, which is the most common type of eczema.

Fungal infections: This is a common and sometimes involving the skin, nails, and hair. A group of yeast called Candida can cause a variety of fungal infections, including oral thrush, ringworm, athlete’s foot, and balanitis.

Hair loss: About 80 million people in the US have hair loss heredity. Various health problems can also cause hair loss, including head lice, which affects approximately 6-12million children aged 3-11 years in the US each year.

Warts: It is contagious, benign skin growth that appears when a virus has infected the upper layers of the skin. A dermatologist can use a variety of treatments to remove warts persistent.

Nail problems: Dermatologists also treat the health problems that damage the skin around and under the nails. ingrown nails, fungal infections, and other conditions can cause this damage.

Vitiligo: This involves the skin to lose melanin, the pigment. As a result, some patches of skin lighter in color than the others.

Psoriasis: a chronic autoimmune disorder accelerate until the growth of skin cells, so that the skin patches may be thick, red, purple, or silvery and scaly. There are several types of psoriasis.

Rosacea: It causes redness in the face, sometimes with pus-filled bumps, visible blood vessels, and swelling of the eyelids. Symptoms can be spread from the nose and cheeks to the forehead, chin, ears, chest and back.

Shingles, or herpes zoster: infection with this virus causes a rash that may be painful. It may be evident within a few weeks without treatment, but medical intervention can help speed recovery and prevent complications, which can be severe.

Skin cancer: About 1 in 5 people in the US develop a type of skin cancer at age 70. The most common forms are basal cell carcinoma, melanoma, and squamous cell carcinoma.


Dermatologists use a range of medical and cosmetic treatments to treat skin , nails, and hair related issues.

Medications and non-invasive therapies can treat many skin conditions, while more invasive methods are needed for others. These procedures can take place in an outpatient setting, such as the doctor’s office, or in a hospital.

Chemical peels

This involves applying a chemical solution that causes a skin layer to peel off, revealing the typically smoother, regenerated skin beneath.

This technique is used by dermatologists to treat sun-damaged skin and certain cases of acne. It may also contend with cosmetic complaints, such as age spots and under-eye lines.

Cosmetic injections

Injections can temporarily address wrinkles, scarring, and reduced facial fullness. During a visit to an office a dermatologist may inject Botox or fillers such as collagen and fat.

Results continue to last for a few months and it needs daily injections to sustain the results. Some people however develop Botox antibodies that make the injections ineffective.


Cryotherapy can be a quick treatment for a lot of benign skin problems, including warts.

The treatment involves freezing skin lesions to kill the infected cells — sometimes with liquid nitrogen.


Dermabrasion can help to reduce scar tissue, fine wrinkles and tattoos, and potentially precancerous skin areas.

A dermatologist extracts the top layer of skin using a high-speed rotating brush

Excision of lesions

Dermatologists excise skin lesions for several reasons. They may cut away these lesions:

  • to prevent a disease from spreading
  • for cosmetic reasons
  • to prevent reoccurring infection
  • to alleviate symptoms
  • to diagnose an underlying issue

The individual may be given a local or general anesthetic prior to removal, depending on the size of the lesion.

Hair removal or restoration

A dermatologist can use various methods to address hair loss, including transplantation.

Alternately, they can remove unwanted body hair using lasers.

Laser surgery

Dermatologists can also use laser surgery to treat a variety of skin issues or cosmetic complaints, including:

  • tumors
  • warts
  • moles
  • unwanted tattoos
  • birthmarks
  • scars
  • wrinkles

Vein procedures

Superficial veins on the leg are small, dilated veins on the surface. People sometimes call them spider veins, and may ask to remove them.

Sclerotherapy appears to be the treatment of choice for the spider-vein. It involves either injecting foam or a particular solution into the vein which irritates the lining, causing the vein to shut down, then becoming less distinct or disappearing.

Tumescent liposuction

Dermatologists use liposuction with a tumescent to remove fat. This requires injecting large amounts of local anesthetic into fatty tissue and then sucking it out of the body itself.

Tumescent liposuction is not an obesity treatment-it is a body contouring cosmetic procedure.

Dermatologists can also selectively blast fat cells using lasers.

Skin grafts and flaps

Dermatologists can restore missing skin using skin from elsewhere on the body.

Or, they may repair skin loss by creating a flap of skin from a nearby area and using it to cover the damaged patch.


A dermatologist usually performs a skin biopsy to diagnose or rule out certain conditions.

They typically use one of the following three approaches:

  • Shave biopsies remove small sections of the top layer of skin.
  • Punch biopsies remove small, circular sections of skin, including deeper layers.
  • Excision biopsies remove entire areas of skin that seem to be unhealthy.


PUVA stands for: psoralen combined with ultraviolet A radiation.Psoralen is a drug that makes the skin more sensitive to the radiation treatment.

Dermatologists use PUVA to treat skin diseases, such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and vitiligo.

Mohs surgery

Mohs surgery is a treatment for skin cancer.

First, the dermatologist removes skin layers to get rid of cancer cells and then scans them under a microscope.

They then eliminate successive layers until cancerous cells have ceased to exist. It takes specialized training to perform this surgery.

When to see a dermatologist

If the symptoms of skin , hair or nail do not respond to home care, then it may be time to seek medical help.

A person may seek out a specialized cosmetic dermatologist if concerns are cosmetic.

It is important for people to speak with their insurance companies about any future dermatological treatments, which often do not fund cosmetic procedures.

Be sure you have copies of all medical records, consultation notes and diagnostic test results you inform the provider of the treatment’s medical necessity.

Chukwuebuka Martins

Chukwuebuka Martins is a writer, researcher, and health enthusiast who specializes in human physiology. He takes great pleasure in penning informative articles on many aspects of physical wellness, which he then thoroughly enjoys sharing to the general public.