To become a dermatologist, a physician must first complete a yearlong internship in one of the following areas: internal medicine, pediatrics, general surgery, family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, or emergency medicine.
The dermatology residency is a 3-year program that includes additional studies in the following areas: allergies, anatomy, bacteriology, biochemistry, embryology, entomology, genetics, histology, immunology, molecular biology, mycology, oncology, parasitology, pathology, pharmacology, photobiology, physiology, serology and virology. Dermatologic microbiology, dermatopathology and immunodermatology are also emphasized.
Clinical training includes the diagnosis and management of common and rare skin diseases and conditions in a variety of patients of all ages. Training focuses on the skin, hair, nails and mucous membranes. Patient management is supplemented with Grand Rounds, instructional microscopic sessions, exams, journal clubs, research and presentations.
Dermatologists undergo surgical and laser training, and they are required to attain competency in the use and application of anesthesia, electrosurgery, cryosurgery, laser surgery, nail surgery and biopsy, as well as excisional surgery and repair. Dermatologists also must obtain competency in dermatopathology (pathology of the skin). Many dermatologic procedures and surgeries can be performed in the practice's office and don't require a hospital stay.
A board-certified dermatologist is one who completes a 3-year accredited dermatology program and passes the comprehensive national board examination; they are then certified by the American Board of Dermatology (ABD).
What role can a dermatologist play in the care of my skin?
A dermatologist can help you care for your skin in the following important ways.
Dermatologists diagnose skin conditions and diseases effectively and quickly by noting your symptoms and examining your skin. This is what they have been trained for years to do. They then give you options for proven treatments. An example is aging, photodamaged skin. Aging skin shows signs such as wrinkles and brown spots. These signs also indicate photodamage, which puts you at a risk of skin cancer. It is important when seeking improvement in your skin's appearance that you see a dermatologist. A dermatologist will make the correct diagnosis of the condition before treating it.
There are new, exciting treatment options such as laser and light therapy for the elimination of spots and other conditions. However, you need to be sure that you have something as simple as brown spots. Sometimes a brown spot (lentigo) is much more than just a spot. Lentigo Maligna (a form of melanoma) starts as a brown spot. A board-certified dermatologist has been trained to diagnose Lentigo Maligna from a simple lentigo and treat it appropriately through surgery. Everyone deserves a true skin expert, a board-certified dermatologist, who can both diagnose and treat your skin conditions.
Dermatologists can also help you prevent unnecessary damage to your skin. They do this through education and by showing you how to examine your skin for signs of skin cancer or other skin problems.
Dermatologists are also skin surgeons. They perform surgery on the skin to eliminate or prevent disease or improve how the skin looks.
Regular Skin Maintenance
Dermatologists treat people of all ages as skin problems can affect everyone from babies to seniors. You should see a dermatologist whenever you have symptoms of skin trouble. Even without a history of skin problems, it is a good idea to see a dermatologist as an adult. Your dermatologist can help you watch for the long-term effects of the environment (particularly the sun), aging and disease processes. A dermatologist can also suggest programs to help you care for your skin.
Since skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, it is a good idea for anyone with a significant history of sun exposure to see a dermatologist regularly for skin exams. You should also check your own skin for new or changing moles or dark spots, and for new lumps or growths. A dermatologist can show you what to look for.
Dermatologists can improve the appearance of skin damage resulting from aging, sunlight or disease. These procedures include lasers, light technology, fillers, microdermabrasion, chemical peels, Botox® and removal of undesirable growths.