Dermatologists are expert medical doctors and skin surgeons with the unique skills and experience to offer the best care for the organ that cares for you.
Dermatologists have extensive training to diagnose and treat all diseases of the skin, hair, and nails as well as cosmetic problems.
After completing their medical training of 8 years, dermatologists complete at least another 4 years of specialist training in Dermatology. Some dermatologists also complete fellowships that makes them experts in their field.
They are the only medical professionals that studies the skin on an anatomic, histological, physiological and molecular basis, putting them in a unique position to offer expert advice on prevention and treatment.
Dermatologists care for people of all ages, from newborns to seniors.
Since skin cancer can occur anywhere on your body, the exam is a “head-to-toe” affair. If your reason for visiting the dermatologist is to get a full body skin examination for skin cancer screening it will involve the following:
As the doctor performs the examination, they may use a hand-held dermatoscope, which is a specialised device used to magnify and illuminate the various layers of the skin. This enables the dermatologist to identify changes in the skin before it becomes apparent to the naked eye.
Not every visit to a dermatologist requires a full body skin examination. If the skin problem is only localised to a specific area (like acne on the face, chest and back). Only those areas need to be examined.
Some studies have found that acne seems to be more common in people who drink a lot of milk. But more research is needed to understand the link between the types of foods people eat and acne.
Most likely not. Eczema is an inherited inflammatory skin condition associated with other atopic conditions such as asthma, allergic rhinitis and conjunctivitis.
Although children with eczema have a higher incidence of food allergies, food is not the cause or the trigger of the eczema.
In very rare and unique cases food may contribute. This is where your dermatologist will be able to advise you.
Restrictive diets for eczema is strongly discouraged as this almost never leads to improvement of the eczema but rather to other problems due to malnutrition.
What are skin tags?
Skin tags are benign skin growths. They commonly occur in skin folds and are not dangerous. Skin tags are not skin cancers and cannot turn into skin cancers. They can be removed if they are bothersome or of cosmetic concern.
what causes skin tags?
Skin tags typically appear as people age and are quite common in people over the age 60. Skin tags may run in families and can develop after weight gain or pregnancy.
How to remove skin tags?
Your dermatologist may remove the skin tags with sharp scissors, a sharp blade or by freezing or burning them off.
What causes warts?
Warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV), which infects the top layer of skin.
How to get rid of warts?
First line treatments:
The first line treatments for warts are Salicylic Acid and cryotherapy. Salicylic acid can be bought over the counter and self-applied at home by the patient and is completely painless. It is also useful to occlude the the salicylic acid ointment on the skin with duct tape or types of tape.
Cryotherapy with liquid nitrogen is a common treatment. A disadvantage of cryotherapy is the pain associated with treatment. As a result, cryotherapy is primarily used for warts in older children and adults and often avoided in young children.
The treatment of warts that persist after treatment with first line agents include the following options:
Pulsed dye laser
What is ringworm?
Ringworm is not caused by a worm. It is a skin infection that’s caused by fungi (mold) that live on the dead tissues of your skin, hair, and nails. Typically, it results in red, itchy, scaly, circular lesions.
How to treat ringworm
Mild forms of ringworm can be treated with over-the-counter topical antifungal medications, but other forms require prescription systemic antifungal medication. Your dermatologist will be best to advise you on the appropriate medication.
What is shingles?
Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash that can occur anywhere on your body but usually affecting either the left or the right side of your torso.
What causes shingles?
Shingles is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. After you've had chickenpox, the virus lies inactive in the body’ nerves. The virus may reactivate as shingles many years later.
Is shingles contagious?
A person with shingles can pass the virus to anyone who isn't immune to chickenpox. This can occur through direct contact with the open sores of the shingles rash. The person will develop chickenpox, however, not shingles.
How to treat shingles
Early treatment with prescription antiviral drugs can speed healing and reduce your risk of complications.
What types of skin cancer do you get?
Skin cancer is the most common cancer worldwide and is typically divided into melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC).
The 2 most common types of NMSC are called “basal cell carcinoma” and “squamous cell carcinoma.” Most forms of NMSC can be easily treated because they grow slowly. But if not treated, some NMSC can become large or spread inside the body and may even be fatal.
Melanoma is a serious form of skin cancer. Melanoma can occur anywhere on the skin, including the back and other hard-to-see areas. It can also occur on the skin lining the mouth, nose, and genitals. When it is not treated, melanoma can spread to organs inside the body.
What is the treatment for skin cancer?
When detected early, most BCCs can be treated and cured. Prompt treatment is vital, because as the tumour grows, it becomes more dangerous and potentially disfiguring, requiring more extensive treatment.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a small or early BCC, a number of effective treatments can usually be performed on an outpatient basis.
For BCC’s with a high risk of recurrence or in cosmetic sensitive areas like your face Mohs Micrographic surgery is recommended as first line treatment.
Alternative options include:
- Conventional surgery
- Curettage and electrodesiccation (electrosurgery)
- Radiation therapy
How can I tell if I have skin cancer?
You can get skin cancer anywhere on your body — from your scalp to your feet. Skin cancer can even develop in areas protected from the sun.
Skin cancer can occur in unexpected places like under a toenail or fingernail, on your genitals, inside your mouth, or on a lip.
Skin cancer is one of the easiest cancers to find. Growing on the skin surface it is quite visible and easy to look for.
The best way to find skin cancer is to examine yourself. If you find a spot on your skin that could be skin cancer, see a dermatologist.
Signs of skin cancer may be:
- Changing mole or mole that looks different from your others
- Any new Dome-shaped growth
- Scaly patch that does not heal
- Non-healing sore
- Brown or black streak under a nail
When found early, skin cancer is highly treatable.
Dermatologists will do a full body skin examination and use specialised equipment to evaluate your skin for any signs of cancer.
Mole mapping is a form of total body photography combined with dermoscopy. The photographs that are taken with a mole mapping machine are high definition and great quality images, which is then saved to document the appearance and location of moles on the body.
Your dermatologist reviews these pictures and may take dermoscopy pictures of concerning lesions for the purpose of documenting these and compare it later with follow-up pictures.
Mole mapping is a good technique to monitor patients with many pigmented lesions or atypical lesions but is not necessary for all patients. Your dermatologist will discuss whether you are a good candidate for mole mapping.
Mohs micrographic surgery is a specialised form of skin cancer surgery in which cure rates close to 100% are achieved with minimal tissue removal. During Mohs surgery, thin layers of cancer-containing skin are progressively removed and examined until only cancer-free tissue remains. The goal of Mohs surgery is to remove the skin cancer, while causing minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Read more about Mohs surgery here.
What is eczema?
Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that causes itchy, dry and flaky skin. Another term for eczema is “atopic dermatitis.”
How to treat eczema?
- Moisturizing creams or ointments
- Steroid creams and ointments
- Medicines that change the way the immune system works
- Light therapy
- Prescription systemic therapies
What is hyperhidrosis?
- Excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) means that you sweat much more than normal. Excessive sweating occurs even when you are not hot, anxious, or exercising.
- Read about the treatment of Hyperhidrosis.
What is rosacea?
Rosacea is a skin condition that causes redness and pimples on the cheeks, nose, chin, forehead, or eyelids. Most common in adults ages 30 to 60.
Read all about Rosacea.
What is the best acne treatment?
Doctors can treat acne using different types of medicines.
Most acne medicines require a prescription.
Your doctor might suggest:
Medicines you put directly on your skin – these can be gels, creams, or lotions.
- Salicylic acid and glycolic
Medicines you take as a pill – these include:
- Birth control pills
Does certain foods aggravate acne?
Some studies have found that acne seems to be more common in people who drink a lot of milk. But more research is needed to understand the link between the types of foods people eat and acne. Read more on adult female acne.