What is a dermatologist?
12 May 2020
Dermatologists diagnose and treat skin conditions like skin tags or atypical moles, hair loss, and nail diseases. To become a dermatologist you have to be medically qualified just like any other doctor, and then train in general medicine. A dermatologist will then work, research and train in a specialist area, developing expertise in a dermatological sub-specialty. The whole process takes about 15 years.
Dermatologists treat over 3,000 skin diseases, including acne, psoriasis, and skin cancers, plus a huge variety of nail and hair conditions.
As well as prescribing topical and oral treatments, dermatologists are trained to carry out skin surgery, laser treatments, and more. With such expertise dermatologists are the best people to diagnose and treat your medical condition.
Common reasons for a referral to a dermatologist include eczema, psoriasis, severe acne, and acne scars. But the skin is a complex organ and there are in fact over 3,000 skin diseases, with about 20 of them accounting for the vast majority of dermatologists’ workload. In recent years, skin cancers have increasingly been added to this workload, due in part to holidays abroad and the erroneous belief that tanned skin is healthy. There are also many underlying systemic diseases that manifest as skin rashes.
Fungal infections are a very common nail condition treated by dermatologists. Beyond infections, a dermatologist can also diagnose a range of abnormal growths within the nail. Some of these nail growths can be benign but may also be viral warts, fibroid tumors, or malignant growths. Symptoms and signs of nail conditions can include discoloration, scaling, or the nail ‘lifting’ so it is no longer completely attached.
A dermatologist is the best person to diagnose and provide hair loss treatments, which can be the result of a wide variety of conditions. These include anaemia, androgenetic alopecia, alopecia areata, male pattern baldness, hair follicles, female pattern, and many different autoimmune diseases, thyroid disorders, traction, and baldness. Female hair loss can also occur due to polycystic ovary syndrome, after pregnancy and during menopause.
What can a dermatologist diagnose?
Many scalp, hair, and nail conditions can be diagnosed by a thorough physical examination. The consultant will also review your medical history, ask about the symptoms, and examine the affected area.
In some cases, certain tests such as dermoscopy, a blood test, a skin swab, or skin biopsy may be necessary for diagnosis, or a trichometry or trichoscopy with video dermatoscopy.
You should seek medical advice when you first notice a medical condition. Consult your GP first for common problems such as mild acne, rosacea, and minor rashes.
They may refer you to a dermatologist if a specialized diagnosis and treatment is required. Seeking a consultation early will reduce the potential risks and complications that may arise due to the dermatological condition.
Dr Anastasia Therianou is a consultant dermatologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, a big teaching medical team in a hospital located in central London.
While she covers general dermatology including acne, psoriasis, and eczema, her particular interest areas are: hair and nail disorders, skin cancers, and complex skin diseases.
Dr Anastasia Therianou is one of the few dermatologists in the UK who specializes in hair loss. To arrange a consultation book an appointment with Dr. Anastasia Therianou, an expert in dermatological care for hair loss and mole problems by phoning 0203 464 4884.