Dermatologists treat skin, hair, nails, and mucous membrane disorders. Currently, there are about 8,500 dermatologists in the United States. These specialists can also help with cosmetic issues.
In this guide we will discuss:
- What dermatology is?
- How to find a dermatologist near you.
- How to prepare for your appointment.
- Common skin disorders treated by a dermatologist.
- What is cosmetic dermatology?
- Different dermatology procedures.
- When to see a dermatologist.
- Do you need a referral?
What is Dermatology?
Dermatology is a branch of medicine concentrated on the diagnosis and treatment of skin disorders, as well as diseases with the hair, nails and mucous membranes. A doctor who practices dermatology is known as a dermatologist.
The largest organ in the body happens to be the skin. It shields the rest of the body from bacteria and injuries and often determines our overall health.
According to multiple studies, an outstanding 42.7% of patients will visit a doctor at some point in their life because of a skin issue. Whether the issue is acute or chronic, it shows that skin issues affect a mass majority of patients, and the need for dermatology is in great demand.
In addition, a dermatologist is able to provide services for cosmetic needs to help improve the appearance of skin, hair, and nails.
Quick Dermatology Facts:
- Dermatology concentrates on skin, hair, and nails.
- According to an IMS Health study, there are an estimated 9,600 dermatologists and 7,800 dermatology practices in the US.
- There are over 3,000 different skin conditions that a dermatologist can treat.
- A dermatologist is able to perform skin grafts, laser treatments, remove lesions, as well as perform cosmetic procedures.
What do Dermatologists do?
Doctors who practice dermatology will see patients in hospitals, clinics or private practices. They may also act as a consultant to other physicians, offer to teach, and provide research in their clinical field of study.
These specialists are trained experts in basic sciences, which include microbiology, pathology, biochemistry, physics, physiology, and endocrinology. Since many physicians will consult with dermatologist it is vital that they be familiar with a wide variety of medical conditions. Skin issues are often associated with underlying internal conditions.
A dermatologist may need to conduct surgery to:
- Prevent a disease
- Remove growths
- Improve the appearance of skin
- Define a diagnosis
How to Find a Dermatologist
Googling search terms such as “best dermatologists near me” or “dermatologist in New York City” will throw up hundreds of suggestions. You are then left with a pool of candidates to choose from.
Here are just some of the things you will want to do when looking for the best dermatologist in your area.
What Qualifications Do They Have?
First and foremost, you will want to ensure that the dermatologist that you are visiting is licensed or certified. There are many practitioners who offer services in spas and beauty clinics that refer to themselves as a dermatologist. However, they do not have the right accreditation to be given this title.
All qualified dermatologist will be board-certified by the American Board of Dermatology, the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology, or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
In order to receive this qualification, the dermatologist must:
- Complete 4 years of college and earn a bachelor’s degree
- Complete 4 years of medical school and obtain a medical doctor (MD) or a
doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO)
- Complete a year internship
- Do a 3-year residency, which allows them to work alongside an experienced doctor and complete 12,000 to 16,000 hours of hands-on patient treatment.
In your search, you may see some advance physicians who have the initials FAAD behind their names. This stands for, “Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology.”
Criteria for these initials include:
- The physician is licensed to practice medicine
- Passed American Board of Dermatology or Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada exams
- Is a member of the American Academy of Dermatology
Specialties Within Dermatology
Once a physician has become a board-certified dermatologist, they may choose to further their medical training by seeking advanced specialties.
These may include:
- Mohs surgery
- Pediatric dermatology
How Can I Check Dermatologist Qualifications and Training?
If you truly want to be certain that the doctor you are seeing is qualified and trained in dermatology, go straight to the board and check their certification.
In addition, most dermatologists will require a referral from your family physician before seeing you. If your doctor is referring you to them, then their credentials should have already been checked. This means that it is a trusted physician who your doctor feels comfortable referring patients to.
Interview Questions for Your Dermatologist?
- Where did you do your residency?
- What methods and products do you recommend to protect my skin?
- Do you conduct yearly full-body exams to check for problem areas?
- Can you perform procedures in a hospital if needed?
- How many years have you been practicing dermatology?
- What are your thoughts on the use of fillers and other anti-aging products?
Look at Ratings by Prior Patients
Looking at patient testimonials can help you understand a physician’s bedside manner. It will help you see if the dermatologist is empathetic and takes time to answer questions and concerns. Check patient ratings on google, yelp or their website. You will also be able to get a fill for the practice and staff.
Preparing for Your Dermatology Appointment
Before you head off to your consultation you will want to make sure:
- The dermatologist is covered by your insurance.
- Get a referral by your regular physician if it is required.
- Make a list of products you are currently using on your skin.
- Make a list of all your medications that you are on.
- Wear clothing that is easy to slide on and off.
- Do not wear makeup to your appointment.
- Take selfies a week before going to the doctor to document skin issues.
- Understand that treatment will take time.
Customer Service Will Matter
When you go in for your first consultation, make a note of the staff. Afterward, you can evaluate them to see if this is a facility you feel comfortable visiting again.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Was I greeted when I first walked in?
- Was the facility clean?
- Was the staff friendly?
- How long did I have to wait before being taken to an exam room?
- If there were delays did the staff let you know?
- Were you asked to fill out paperwork?
- Were you offered assistance?
- Did the doctor and staff introduce themselves?
What are the Most Common Skin Disorders?
There are over 3,000 different diseases that a dermatologist can treat. Dermatology requires a wealth of clinical knowledge, including internal conditions that may cause skin issues.
Here are some of the most common conditions treated by a dermatologist.
- Vitiligo – This condition causes patches of skin to lose color.
- Acne – Common condition which affects oil glands of the skin.
- Dermatitis – an Inflammation of the skin.
- Eczema – This condition causes the skin to become red, itchy and inflamed.
- Fungal infections – Fungus can infect the skin, nails, and hair.
- Alopecia – The most common form of hair loss that dermatologists treat.
- Nail issues – Treat conditions that affect nails, such as fungal infections or ingrown toenails.
- Psoriasis – Autoimmune skin disorder that causes rapid growth of skin cells.
- Rosacea – This skin condition causes redness in the face, pus-filled bumps and may lead to visible blood vessels and swollen eyelids.
- Skin Cancer – Most common forms of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma, melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
- Shingles – A viral infection that affects the nerve endings in the skin and can lead to a painful rash.
- Warts – A contagious, skin growth that is benign and appears when there is a virus infection of the top layer of skin.
Cosmetic Dermatology Services
Cosmetic dermatology focuses on improving the appearance of skin, hair, and nails. These types of procedures are typically not paid for by insurance, as they are not a medical necessity. Treatments may range from deep cleansing, and restoring skin texture and tone.
These types of services can help with cosmetic imperfections caused by:
- Skin tags
- Stretch marks
- Certain birthmarks
- Age spots
- Skin discoloration
- Lines and wrinkles
This type of dermatology can help tighten saggy facial or body skin, as well as reduce fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and sun damage.
Cosmetic dermatology services may include:
- Body Sculpting
- Laser Hair Removal
- Chemical Peels
- HydraFacial® MD
- Dermal Fillers and Injectables
- Varicose Veins
- Spider Veins
- Broken Blood Vessels
- Laser Skin Rejuvenation
- IPL® Photofacial
- Age Spots
- Sun Spots
- Brown Spots
- Earlobe Repair
- Aesthetic Services
- Vanquish ME™
- Exilis ULTRA™
- Eyelash Enhancements
- Laser Hair Removal
- Laser Treatments
- Tattoo removal
A large percentage of procedures that dermatologists conduct is for cosmetic reasons, several other procedures that may be done for medical necessity. There are many non-invasive therapy options and medications that can be used to treat dermatology conditions.
Most procedures can take place in an outpatient setting. Common dermatology procedures include:
- Chemical Peels
- Removal of lesions
- Laser surgery
- Mohs surgery
- Psoralen combined with ultraviolet A (PUVA)
- Skin grafts and flaps
Do I Need a Referral to See a Dermatologist?
Most insurances and specialists will require that you get a referral from your family physician before seeing a dermatologist. It is always best to check with your insurance before making an appointment. This will ensure you have everything to quickly get your appointment scheduled.
When Should I See a Dermatologist?
When your symptoms appear to be getting worse or your skin condition is not responding to therapy, it is time to see a dermatologist. Getting a diagnosis and treatment plan can help decrease the chances of long-term effects caused by your skin condition. 3
If you have had a recent diagnosis of skin cancer, then you will most definitely want to consult with a dermatologist.
When going to visit your dermatologist for the first time make sure you bring along:
- Copies of medical reports
- Consultation notes
- Diagnostic test results