Understanding Medicine – Dermatology

acnelazertreatment1Dermatology is the region of medicine concerned with the skin and its various diseases. The subject spans both medical and surgical aspects and specialisms date back to the very early 19th century with the first school of dermatology opening in Paris in 1801. The first textbooks and atlases relating to the field were published around the same time.

To become a qualified general dermatologist in the USA, you must study for four years, combining one year’s medical or surgical internship followed by three years in a dermatological residency. After this, the doctor can choose to continue their studies in a more specialized area. In the UK, dermatologists must first complete their medical qualification then tag on two years of basic training during which they must become registered with the General Medical Council.

More about Dermatology

With skin being the largest organ in the human body, it offers a wide area for diseases to take hold and therefore the field of dermatology is a fascinating and varied one. There are more than 2000 estimated conditions related to the skin and therefore dermatologists must rarely get bored!

Some people consider dermatology to be a less fulfilling career choice than other medical specialisms but when the scope of what’s included in dermatology is taken fully into account, one can quickly see how rewarding the job can be.

Conditions Treated within Dermatology

Perhaps the largest common problem is skin cancer. In the western world particularly, incidences of malignant melanoma are on the increase but when caught early, these conditions can be treated within dermatology and completely cured. Slightly less severe conditions include eczema and psoriasis. These may not be necessarily life threatening but they can severely affect a patient’s quality of life. Dermatology can help to treat these conditions and therefore significantly improve a patient’s mental and physical wellbeing.


As with most medical professions, there are plenty of sub-specialisms and interests that a dermatologist can choose from. These include dermatopathology, pediatric dermatology, blistering disorders, cosmetic dermatology, genetic skin disease, hair and nail disorders and connective tissues.

Focusing more specifically on just a couple of these, cosmetic dermatology involves the use of Botox, fillers and laser surgery. The specialism can extend to liposuction, blepharoplasty and face lifts, although a lot of dermatologists restrict their medical practice to procedures that are of minimal invasion.

Pediatric dermatology is, as the name suggests, the specialism of skin complaints in children. There are many complex diseases of the neonates (babies) and genodermatoses (hereditary skin diseases).

There are two particular sub-branches of dermatology: medical and surgical. Medical dermatology is concerned mostly with skin diseases (potentially fatal and non-fatal) and cutaneous manifestations of systemic diseases. Surgical dermatology includes the surgical excision of skin tumors which can occur anywhere on the body. In these cases, surgical intervention is almost always completely successful and can cure the condition upon excision.

Dermatology is a fascinating field and one in which there are plenty of jobs for qualified medical professionals. Because most of the conditions that a professional will encounter within dermatology are not life-threatening, it is not quite as potentially distressing as other medical fields.

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Updated: February 22, 2014 — 8:30 pm

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