"Dermatologic surgery" redirects here. For the journal, see Dermatologic Surgery (journal).

System Skin
Significant diseases Skin cancer, Skin infections, eczemas
Significant tests Skin biopsy
Specialist Dermatologist

Dermatology is the branch of medicine dealing with the skin, nails, hair and its diseases.[1][2] It is a specialty with both medical and surgical aspects.[3][4][5] A dermatologist treats diseases, in the widest sense,[6] and some cosmetic problems of the skin, scalp, hair, and nails.[2][7]


Attested in English in 1819, the word dermatology derives from the Greek δέρματος (dermatos), genitive of δέρμα (derma), "skin"[8] (itself from δέρω dero, "to flay"[9]) and -λογία -logia.


Readily visible alterations of the skin surface have been recognized since the dawn of history, with some being treated, and some not. In 1801 the first great school of dermatology became a reality at the famous Hôpital Saint-Louis in Paris, while the first textbooks (Willan's, 1798–1808) and atlases (Alibert's, 1806–1814) appeared in print during the same period of time.[10]


Names Doctor, Medical Specialist
Occupation type
Activity sectors
Education required
Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or
Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) or
Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (in the United Kingdom)

United States

After earning a medical degree (M.D. or D.O.), the length of training in the United States for a general dermatologist to be eligible for Board Certification by the American Academy of Dermatology, American Board of Dermatology or the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology is a total of four years. This training consists of an initial medical, transitional, or surgical intern year followed by a three-year dermatology residency.[2][11][12] Following this training, one- or two- year post-residency fellowships are available in immunodermatology, phototherapy, laser medicine, Mohs micrographic surgery, cosmetic surgery or dermatopathology. For the past several years, dermatology residency positions in the United States have been one of the most competitive to obtain.[13][14][15]

United Kingdom

In the UK, a dermatologist is a medically qualified practitioner who has gone on to specialise in medicine and then sub-specialise in dermatology. This involves:

-Medical school for five years to obtain an MBBS, MBBCh or MB,BChir degree

-One year of house jobs (Foundation year 1) before becoming fully registered as a medical practitioner

-Two to three years training in general medicine (Foundation years 2 and 3 or more) to obtain a higher degree in medicine and become a member of the Royal College of Physicians

-Having obtained the MRCP examination, applying to become a Specialty Registrar (StR) in Dermatology and training for four years in dermatology.

-Passing the Specialty Certificate Examination (SCE) in Dermatology before the end of training

-Upon successful completion of the four-year training period, the doctor becomes an accredited dermatologist and is able to apply for a consultant hospital post as a consultant dermatologist.


Cosmetic dermatology

A Cosmetic dermatology unit in SM City North Edsa, Philippines

Dermatologists have been leaders in the field of cosmetic surgery.[16] Some dermatologists complete fellowships in surgical dermatology. Many are trained in their residency on the use of botulinum toxin, fillers, and laser surgery. Some dermatologists perform cosmetic procedures including liposuction, blepharoplasty, and face lifts.[17][18] Most dermatologists limit their cosmetic practice to minimally invasive procedures. Despite an absence of formal guidelines from the American Board of Dermatology, many cosmetic fellowships are offered in both surgery and laser medicine.


A dermatolopathologist is a pathologist or dermatologist who specializes in the pathology of the skin. This field is shared by dermatologists and pathologists. Usually a dermatologist or pathologist will complete one year of dermatopathology fellowship. This usually includes six months of general pathology, and six months of dermatopathology.[19] Alumni of both specialties can qualify as dermatopathologists. At the completion of a standard residency in dermatology, many dermatologists are also competent at dermatopathology. Some dermatopathologists qualify to sit for their examinations by completing a residency in dermatology and one in pathology.


This field specializes in the treatment of immune-mediated skin diseases such as lupus, bullous pemphigoid, pemphigus vulgaris, and other immune-mediated skin disorders. Specialists in this field often run their own immunopathology labs.

Mohs surgery

Main article: Mohs surgery

The dermatologic subspecialty called Mohs surgery focuses on the excision of skin cancers using a tissue-sparing technique that allows intraoperative assessment of 100% of the peripheral and deep tumor margins developed in the 1930s by Dr. Frederic E. Mohs. The procedure is defined as a type of CCPDMA processing. Physicians trained in this technique must be comfortable with both pathology and surgery, and dermatologists receive extensive training in both during their residency. Physicians who perform Mohs surgery can receive training in this specialized technique during their dermatology residency, but many will seek additional training either through preceptorships to join the American Society for Mohs Surgery[20] or through formal one- to two-year Mohs surgery fellowship training programs administered by the American College of Mohs Surgery.[21]

This technique requires the integration of the same doctor in two different capacities: surgeon as well as pathologist. In case either of the two responsibilities is assigned to another doctor or qualified health care professional, it will not be considered to be Mohs surgery.

Pediatric dermatology

Physicians can qualify for this specialization by completing both a pediatric residency and a dermatology residency. Or they might elect to complete a post-residency fellowship.[22] This field encompasses the complex diseases of the neonates, hereditary skin diseases or genodermatoses, and the many difficulties of working with the pediatric population.


Main article: Teledermatology

Teledermatology is a form of dermatology where telecommunication technologies are used to exchange medical information via all kinds of media (audio, visual and also data communication, but typically photos of dermatologic conditions) usually made by non-dermatologists for evaluation off-site by dermatologists).[23][24] This subspecialty deals with options to view skin conditions over a large distance to provide knowledge exchange,[25] to establish second-opinion services for experts[26] or to use this for follow-up of individuals with chronic skin conditions.[27][28] Teledermatology can reduce wait times by allowing dermatologists to treat minor conditions online while serious conditions requiring immediate care are given priority for appointments.[29]


Dermatoepidemiology is the study of skin disease at the population level.[30] One aspect of dermatoepidemiology is the determination of the global burden of skin diseases.[31][32] From 1990 to 2013, skin disease has constituted approximately 2% of total global disease disability [33] as measured in disability adjusted life years (DALYS).[34]


Facial cleansing pores in Meditec at ITESM CCM(2012)

Therapies provided by dermatologists include, but are not restricted to the following:

Most dermatologic pharmacology can be categorized based on the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System, specifically the ATC code D.

See also


  1. Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. Random House, Inc. 2001. Page 537. ISBN 0-375-72026-X.
  2. 1 2 3
  4. "What is a dermatologist; what is dermatology. DermNet NZ". 2009-06-15. Retrieved 2012-10-28.
  5. "What is a Dermatologist". Retrieved 2012-10-28.
  6. Chua, Shunjie. "Dermatology is not just aesthetics". The Chroincle. Duke University. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  8. δέρμα, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus
  9. δέρω, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, on Perseus Digital Library
  10. Freedberg, et al. (2003). Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. (6th ed.). McGraw-Hill Professional. Page 3. ISBN 0-07-138076-0.
  11. "American Board of Dermatology". Retrieved 2012-10-28.
  12. Creative Innovations. "American Osteopathic College of Dermatology - Qualifications Overview". Retrieved 2012-10-28.
  13. Wu JJ; Tyring SK. ""...has been the most competitive of all specialties for at least the last 5-6 years." This is confirmed by data from the electronic residency application service (ERAS).". Retrieved 2006-06-23.
  14. Wu JJ; Ramirez CC; Alonso CA; et al. ""Dermatology continues to be the most competitive residency to enter..." Arch Dermatol. 2006;142:845-850.". Retrieved 2007-06-25.
  15. Singer, Natasha (2008-03-19). "For Top Medical Students, an Attractive Field". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-05-01.
  16. James, William; Berger, Timothy; Elston, Dirk (2005). Andrews' Diseases of the Skin: Clinical Dermatology (10th ed.). Saunders. Page 895. ISBN 0-7216-2921-0.
  17. "Dayton Skin Care Specialists: Fellowship Information". Retrieved 2012-10-28.
  18. UC Davis Health System, Department of Dermatology (2010-04-21). "ACGMC Procedural Dermatology Fellow". Retrieved 2012-10-28.
  19. "DRAFT" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-28.
  20. "The Mohs College Difference". Retrieved 2012-10-28.
  21. "Subspecialty Certification in Pediatric Dermatology". The American Board of Dermatology. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
  22. Burg G, Soyer H.P, Chimenti S. (2005): Teledermatology In: Frisch P, Burgdorf W.: EDF White Book, Skin Diseases in Europe. Berlin, 130-133
  23. Douglas A. Perednia, M.D., Nancy A. Brown, M.L.S., OregonHealthSciencesUniversity Teledermatology: one application of telemedicine
  24. DermNet NZ: the dermatology resource
  25. The Community for Dermatology | Teledermatology
  26. Ebner et al. 2006 e&i
  27. H. Peter Soyer, Rainer Hofmann-Wellenhof, Cesare Massone, Gerald Gabler, Huiting Dong, Fezal Ozdemir, Giuseppe Argenziano Freely Available Online Consultations in Dermatology
  28. "Online Visits With Dermatologists Enhance Access to Care for Patients With Minor and Serious Skin Conditions, Boost Physician Productivity". Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. 2013-11-06. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
  29. Barzilai, DA; Freiman, A; Dellavalle, RP; Weinstock, MA; Mostow, EN (Apr 2005). "Dermatoepidemiology.". Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 52 (4): 559–73; quiz 574–8. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2004.09.019. PMID 15793504.
  30. Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation/ Retrieved 7 October 2015. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  31. W.H.O. Global Burden of Disease/en/ Retrieved 7 October 2015. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  32. "IHME Data Visualization: Compare". Retrieved 7 October 2015.
  33. Murray, CJ (NaN). "Quantifying the burden of disease: the technical basis for disability-adjusted life years.". Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 72 (3): 429–45. PMC 2486718Freely accessible. PMID 8062401. Check date values in: |date= (help);
  34. "Liposuction - Who Invented Liposuction?". 2012-04-09. Retrieved 2012-10-28.
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