Wondering what is a dermatologist and how can dermatology help in enriching and enhancing your beauty? Well! Beauty and looks matter to all of us, especially when there are unsightly skin ailments which are not just painful but also hit our self-confidence altogether. In our search for a flawless and clear skin, we may end up with short cuts or DIY remedies which can aggravate the condition leaving behind permanent marks. Dermatologist is the saviour who put in a lot of hard work to understand, analyse, diagnose and treat a wide range of skin and hair conditions.
What Is Dermatology?
Dermatology is the branch of science that deals with diseases of skin, hair and nails. It covers both medical and surgical methods also including cosmetic or aesthetic enhancement. Dermatology in other terms is an all-inclusive domain that deals with the study, diagnosis, management and research of health conditions that may affect the skin, membranes, hair and nails.
Who Is A Dermatologist?
Dermatologists are responsible for diagnosing, preventing and treating conditions related to the skin, hair and nails. In addition, these also include concerns related to topical issues that include wrinkles, hair loss, scars, age spots and other signs of ageing. Some dermatologists are specialists in performing cosmetic procedures like facelifts, liposuction and blepharoplasty. Further, dermatologists also help in dealing and fighting with skin cancer, skin tumours, including other medical and skin conditions. Some cosmetics services offered by dermatologists are mole extractions, laser hair removal and other procedures treating both allergic and non-allergic reactions.
Also Read : Best Skin Care Clinic Near You
What Does A Dermatologist Do?
Right from treating harmless conditions like skin tan, ageing signs, and hair loss to handling something like skin cancer, it is a dermatologist’s responsibility to do an in-depth diagnosis and provide an accurate treatment. The job responsibilities of a dermatologist include –
- Perform all the tasks in accordance with protocols and ethics of dermatology
- Ensure all procedures and treatments are safe for the clients
- Adhere to the rules while performing all tasks
- Keep the desired end results of beauty and satisfaction of clients in mind, while performing all their tasks
- Only perform in areas they specialize in, and with relevant license and certifications
- Keep themselves updated with latest trends in dermatology
- Research and participate in seminars and conferences related to dermatology
- Maintain cleanliness and hygiene at all times
- Be professional and show care for each and every client
- Ensure the procedures are as comfortable and painless as possible.
Approach To Dermatologic Diagnosis
- Clinical examination whether or not the patient appears ill
- Detailed physical examination of skin, nail, hair and membranes
- Check the lesion or skin deformity including its type, shape, arrangement and distribution.
- Check the location, consistency, feel and colour of the skin anomaly, along with the anatomic components of the skin
- General examination related to medical history, trail of the skin deformity, illness, symptoms and other signs related to the condition
- Review and analyse the clinical situation and its connection between cutaneous condition also the underlying diseases of organ system
- Record the medication and social history
- Laboratory studies which include-
- Using hand lens to magnify and diagnose specific features
- Bacterial and fungal culture tests
- Swab test
- Tzanck smear test also known as chicken pox skin test
- Patch test
- General tests including blood, urinalysis, imaging studies, etc.
- Final diagnosis including all/ any of the above
Also Read : Importance Of Skin Patch Test
Comparison Between Dermatologist, Skin Specialist And Skin Care Specialist
- Both dermatologist and skin specialist mean the same, while dermatologist is the scientific term and skin specialist is used more in popular culture. Both terms refer to the doctors who have specialized in disorders related to the skin, hair and nails.
- A dermatologist is a doctor, trained and specialized in diseases of the skin. While skin care specialists are professionals who provide beauty treatments and may or may not be certified and trained. Dermatologists look into the diseases and problems of the skin while the skin care specialists just proceed with routine parlour treatments enhancing the beauty of skin, hair and nails without evaluating the underlying root cause of the skin ailment.
Common dermatologic concerns, addressed by skin doctors or dermatologists include acne, bumps, pigmentation, discoloration, eczema, dermatitis, rashes, scaly skin, erythema, alopecia, skin cancer, photo dermatoses, psoriasis, rosacea, shingles, warts, etc. A dermatologist treats all the skin, nail and hair related disorders with precision. With medical procedures, tools and techniques a dermatologist can identify and evaluate the skin ailment, determine a course of treatment and also help in not just curing but preventing them from spreading. They can also proceed with aesthetic procedures to treat the skin lesions, pigmentation, outgrowths and other anomalies on the skin, with sterile precautions and efficacy.
Common Procedures Done By A Dermatologist
- Biopsy – In a skin biopsy, a small cylindrical tissue from the body is taken for close examination, usually to diagnose lesion, tumour, rashes or a mass
- Chemical peels – They are cosmetic procedures that help in improving the tone and texture of the skin by using a set of chemicals in a controlled way. Plant based extracts are used to administer this exfoliation of the skin which helps in removing the upper deformed layer of the skin. Thus giving new and rejuvenated skin from beneath
Also Read: Light And Deep Chemical Peels
- Cosmetic injections – They help in getting rid of wrinkles and other signs of ageing by increasing the production of elastin and collagen
- Cryotherapy – It is a safe procedure that is useful in treating localized nerve irritation by implementing a method to freeze the affected nerves
- Dermabrasion – It is a process of scraping the skin layer by layer, to diminish the appearance of scars, pigmented patches, wrinkles, and pre-cancerous lesions
- Excision of lesions – It is a simple procedure, which involves removing moles, lesions and tumours from your skin
- Hair removal and restoration process – It involves using a laser with an intense beam of light energy that is targeted to your hair follicles to prevent them from instigating further hair growth (without damaging surrounding tissues). Laser toning and laser hair reduction are extremely common procedures done by a dermatologist
- Laser therapies – These are done using focused light from a laser to treat tumours, polyps or precancerous growths and hair loss resulting from alopecia or ageing
- Laser surgery – It utilizes the energy contained in a laser beam to cut into the affected skin tissue and eliminate the altered skin. This is usually performed on skin cancer patients
- Mohs surgery – It is a micrographic surgery that is considered most effective in treating basal cell carcinomas (BCCs) and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs), which are the two most common types of skin cancer
- Psoralen – When combined with ultraviolet A (PUVA), it is an ultraviolet light therapy, and its spectrum lies between 320 and 400 nm. It is used to treat eczema, psoriasis, graft-versus-host disease, vitiligo, mycosis fungoides, large plaque parapsoriasis and cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
- Skin grafts and flaps – These involve a reconstructive surgery wherein any tissue is taken from donors and moved to replace the recipient’s affected tissues. A skin graft is when a piece of healthy skin is taken from one part of your body to repair damaged skin somewhere else on your body. It includes detaching a part of healthy skin and tissue to cover a nearby wound. A skin flap may contain skin and fat, or skin, fat, and muscle.
- Tumescent liposuction – It is a procedure for body sculpting and contouring for people who want to tone up their bodies. In this procedure, a fluid that contains anesthetic and adrenaline is injected into the skin tissues, which temporarily shrink capillaries such that the hardened fat is then removed.
- Vein therapy – It is used for treating varicose veins. They are not only unsightly but also very painful too. And, the goal of this treatment is to relieve the symptoms and improve the skin’s appearance. Although this treatment can help with existing varicose veins, it cannot help in preventing new varicose veins from forming.
Types Of Dermatologists
Dermatologists specialize in various fields and get expertise in related areas. These sub-specialities in dermatology must be done by a doctor post their residency.
1- Cosmetic dermatologist – They are medical doctors who are trained to assess and treat skin conditions cosmetically. They handle most of the day-to-day conditions such as tan, skin damage and acne. They are specialists in performing the following procedures – collagen injections, chemical peels, dermabrasion, laser surgery, and liposuction.
2- Dermatopathologists – It includes both dermatology and pathology aspects of medicine. They are highly skilled doctors who are trained in performing microscopic observations on your skin tissues to provide definitive diagnosis and treatment
3- Immunodermatologist – They possess comprehensive knowledge of relatability between the immune system and the skin, which helps them in treating microbial skin diseases such as retrovirus infections and leprosy, inflammatory diseases such as hidradenitis suppurativa, allergic contact dermatitis and lastly autoimmune skin diseases such as vitiligo and psoriasis
4- Paediatric Dermatologists – They are trained in treating skin issues of children, as they respond differently to treatments when compared to adults and require special attention. Moreover, they specialize in helping children who suffer from skin disorders that are hereditary in nature
5- Trichologist – They are a kind of dermatologist trained in areas of scalp and hair. All matters pertaining to scalp health, hair loss, hair thinning and the diseases there-in, are treated by them successfully.
Also Read: How To Find A Good Dermatologist?
Reasons To See A Dermatologist
Wondering when to see a dermatologist? As a rule of thumb, for any skin deformity which does not subside in initial few days and may cause some other reactions too, visit your dermatologist immediately before the condition gets severe and leaves a permanent mark behind. Some common reasons to see a dermatologist include –
- Ezcema and itchiness on skin which does not fade – Eczema is a group of skin conditions which have similar reactions like redness, inflammation, itchy skin and even blistering.
- Premature signs of ageing – Appearance of dark circles, fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, loss of glow and prominent dullness of skin which may be due to medical or lifestyle causes.
- Psoriasis – It is an autoimmune disease which causes patches of abnormal skin which are red, itchy and scaly.
- Hair thinning and hair loss – Alopecia and hair thinning can be due to a number of reasons and occur in diverse forms like patches, scarring, pattern baldness or even complete baldness
- Acne and acne scars – Occurrence of papules, pustules, whiteheads, blackheads and cystic nodules also leaving scars behind, which may even become permanent if untreated
- Rosacea – Persistent redness of the central part of your face along with small, red and pus filled bumps, also visible blood vessels through the skin
- Varicose and spider veins – Both arise due to abnormal blood vessels and are visible in legs and face
- Poison ivy, oak and sumac – All of these are plants to which human beings develop allergic responses like rash, bumps, blisters and also weeping fluids
- Ringworm – It is a contagious fungal infection of skin and scalp. It makes the skin scaly, red and itchy
- Infection on skin – Viral, fungal, bacterial and other infections on skin are common. They may develop rashes, bumps, blisters, etc
- Cold sores – Small, fluid-filled and painful blisters which appear on lips, mouth and nose that are caused by virus
- Nail deformities – Uneven and deformed nails can also be a cause of concern to visit a dermatologist. Common symptoms include discoloration, swelling, bleeding, change in appearance, pain and separating nail from fingers
- Skin lesions – Abnormal growth on the skin is called a lesion
- Excessive sweating – It can be due to underlying factors like medication, health, genetics and lifestyle choices
- Warts, moles, milia and skin tags – Clusters of pigmented cells on the skin can results into these growths. They may be black, brown or light in colour and are prominent on the skin.
Also Read: How To Remove Warts?
How Much Does It Cost To See A Dermatologist?
An initial consultation with the dermatologist would cost between Rs. 400-500 depending upon their experience and expertise and also the skin clinic. Do not get carried away by lower prices, at the end, it is your skin and you must make a wise choice.
Facts On Dermatologists
- Dermatologists are just like usual doctors and they perform routine medical procedures like surgery and excisions on skin for selected deformities.
- They deal with skin, hair and nail deformities
- They treat over 3000 skin conditions
- They are licensed to practice medicine
- The practice of dermatology requires in depth clinical knowledge
Can dermatologists do surgery?
Yes, dermatologists do specialized surgeries. Some of them are fellows in surgical dermatology who perform plastic and laser surgeries for reconstruction of skin.
How are dermatologists trained?
Dermatologists are MBBS doctors, who undertake master’s degree which is a 2 years MD dermatology course. Additionally, there are trainings in specific areas which gives them expertise and specialization in the same.
What does a dermatologist do at an appointment?
A dermatologist in the first appointment would record all details including the deformity, medical history and related information. Then they would examine the skin condition, they may also use tools and focussed light for diagnosis. Sometimes laboratory tests may also be prescribed for detailed evaluation of underlying health condition. Then they would determine a suitable course of medical and aesthetic treatment.
Can a dermatologist help with hair loss?
Yes, there are trained dermato-trichologists who can help with various hair thinning and hair fall issues. They perform treatments like PRP, hair transplant, scalp reduction, laser and many other procedures with precision and desired efficacy.
What skincare products do dermatologists recommend?
Dermatologists recommend only those skin care products which are evidenced to treat your skin condition. They also take care of your skin type and underlying health conditions while prescribing the same, thus it reduces the chances of any side effects.
Can a dermatologist remove a cyst?
Yes, a dermatologist can remove the cyst by using injections, and even surgically excise the cyst. Sebaceous cyst removal is a peculiar procedure which an expert dermatologist can do with utmost precision while maintaining sterile conditions. They also suture the skin behind, if need be, to prevent any scars.
It is important for people to understand the criticality of their skin and hair conditions. We often tend to take them lightly and use home remedies and other methods to improve these conditions. Although these may help us to some extent, we are ignorant in understanding the underlying issues causing these conditions. Additionally, we not aware of the gravity of them, which is why it is important to consult a dermatologist for a hair/skin condition that is troubling, instead of letting these conditions leave a permanent mark behind.