What is Dermatology

A dermatologist treats diseases of the skin, hair, nails and mucous membranes (such as the lining of the mouth, eyelids and genitals). In other words it’s the study of the normal workings of the skin and all the abnormal diseases associated with it. A dermatologist can also perform some skin surgeries, hair transplants and can offer specialist cosmetic treatments for the skin.

As we can develop skin problems at any age, dermatologists see a wide variety of patients from newborns to the elderly and in every walk of life. The skin is the largest organ in the body, covering a total area of approximately 2 square metres for the average adult. It acts as a barrier to protect our body from the outside environment, prevents loss of water, controls our temperature and fights off harmful bacteria. The skin often reflects the overall health of the body too and many dermatologists have instigated further diagnosis which the patient wouldn’t have otherwise discovered.

Dermatologists have extensive training including microbiology, pathology, biochemistry, physics, physiology, and endocrinology. They also must be knowledgeable of other medical specialties because of their diagnostic work and because skin diseases are frequently associated with other areas of the body.

A dermatologist will usually have both medical and surgical capabilities within their professional role. The type of surgery they may be involved in varies. Some examples would be prevention of developing skin cancers by removing any abnormal moles; improvement of the skins appearance by removing growths, discolorations, and damage caused by ultraviolet exposure, hair transplant, vitiligo surgery, surgery for hidradenitis suppurativa, skin cancer surgeries and repairs, etc.

Dermatology is a vibrant area to practice in and is constantly adapting itself to meet the changing medical challenges it faces. Advances in technologies mean there are even more choices and treatment options for patients and this expansion of technology seems to still be growing fast. New drugs are continuously being invented; many of our consultants actually being involved in these.

Dermatologists diagnose and treat more than 6,000 different diseases. These diseases include skin cancer, eczema, acne, psoriasis, nail infections, hair loss, diseases of the mucosa of the mouth, warts, fungal and yeast infections and vitiligo. Dermatologists also improve the appearance of their patients’ skin, hair, and nails. For example, a dermatologist can help patients reduce fine lines and wrinkles, laxity and age spots and also improve the appearance of scar tissue.

If you have any changes in your skin which you feel are not normal you should seek the advice from a medical expert, such as a dermatologist.