Skin | Dermatology (Medicine Field)
Dermatology refers to the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases of the skin, hair, nails, oral cavity and genitals. Sometimes it also refers to the cosmetic care and enhancement.
A dermatologist takes care of diseases and some cosmetic problems of the skin, scalp, hair, and nails. Dermatologists have been leaders in the field of cosmetic surgery. Many are trained in their residency on the use of Botox, fillers, and laser surgery. Some dermatologists perform cosmetic procedures including liposuction, blepharoplasty, and face lifts. A dermatology pathologist specializes in the pathology of the skin. The dermatologic subspecialty called Mohs surgery focuses on the excision of skin cancers using a tissue-sparing technique that allows intra-operative assessment of 100% of the peripheral and deep tumour margins.
Diagnosis and treatment
The first step of any contact with a doctor is the medical history. In order to classify a cutaneous eruption, a dermatologist will ask detailed questions on the duration and temporal pattern of skin problems, itching or pain, relations to food intake, sunlight, over the counter creams and clothing. When an underlying disease is suspected, a more detailed history of related symptoms might be elicited (such as arthritis in a suspected case of lupus erythematosus).
Physical examination is generally under bright light and involves the whole body. At this stage, the doctor may apply Woods light, which may aid in diagnosing types of mycosis, or a dermatoscope, which enlarges a suspected lesion and may help differentiating lesions, e. g. between a nevus from melanoma. Dermatology has the benefit of having easy access to tissue for diagnosis. Culture or Gram staining of suspected infectious lesions may identify a pathogen and help direct therapy.
The skin is immediately accessible to local therapy, often in the form of creams. Antibiotic creams can help eliminate infections, while inflammatory skin diseases (such as eczema and psoriasis) often respond to steroid creams. Apart from pharmacological ingredients, the base of the cream itself can be often be of benefit, e. g. a fatty cream in diseases that causes dry skin. Dermatologists relatively rarely have to resort to oral medications. These are reserved for diseases that cannot be treated with local applications. Antibiotics and immune suppressants are most often prescribed for dermatological problems. Surgical intervention may be necessary, e. g. in varicose veins or skin cancer. Varicose veins can also be treated with sclerotherapy (injecting an agent that obliterates the vein). ...