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Dermatology is the branch of medicine that is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the skin, hair, nails and adjacent mucous membranes. A dermatologist is the doctor who has been trained to identify and treat these conditions. Generally, when people think of these medical professionals, the first things they think about are the acne skin problems many young people suffer from. While the specialists work with many teens to resolve this problem, they perform many other kinds of diagnoses and treatments, as well.
To become a dermatologist, a person must first go to medical school and then to a residency program for specialized training. Depending on the doctor's specialty and interest, he or she may train to treat both children and adults.
People who work in this branch of medicine receive very specialized training in the following areas:
Dermatologists also treat cosmetic disorders of the skin, including hair loss, scars, and the skin changes associated with the aging process. Some perform cosmetic work, such as Botox® and collagen injections, and perform eyelid surgery and liposuction.
There are sub-specialties within this medical field. A dermatopathologist uses the microscope to diagnose skin diseases that are infectious, degenerative, or related to the immune system. In order to do these examinations, the doctor uses specially prepared tissue sections, cell scrapings, and smears of skin lesions using a variety of microscope techniques, including light microscopy, electron microscopy, and fluorescence microscopy.
Another sub-specialty, pediatric dermatology, focuses on skin diseases that are more common in children, including birthmarks and neonatal issues. These physicians often work with a medical teams treating children with multiple complex medical conditions.
Once thought to be a lightweight specialty, dermatology is really a very critical specialty dedicated to the body's major organ: the skin.