What does a dermatologist do?


A dermatologist is a doctor, specialist in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of conditions affecting the skin, but also the hair, the nails, the mucus membranes and the sweet and oil glands of patients. He is not just a skin doctor like many tend to think. Dermatologists can treat patients of any age.

What does a dermatologist do and what conditions does he treat?



Although there are more than 3,000 known dermatology conditions, dermatologists tend to work mainly on a few main ones.


They can for example treat a lot of cosmetic issues such as:


-Acne: Spots appearing on the face, the back and sometimes other locations. It is often due to hormonal changes and occurs during puberty.

- Eczema: Condition causing the skin to become itchy, red, dry and sometimes due to allergies.

- Rosacea: Skin becoming permanently red, sometimes burning with some blood vessels becoming visible.

- Psoriasis: Condition increasing the production of skin cells, resulting in the formation of red, crusty patches, sometimes becoming itchy.



Arm with red spots, with a baby in the background

eczema on an arm

Source: InVite® Health Blog



One other common reason patients visit a dermatologist is sun exposure. Unfortunately, this can result in more severe conditions such as skin cancer.

Dermatologists are required for treating such types of cancers, although helped by a team of other specialists, including an oncologist. They are qualified to remove surgically tumors.


Dermatologists can practice some minor cosmetic surgeries such as liposuctions or Botox injections but mainly treat that do not require surgical treatments, unlike plastic surgeons that regularly practice both cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries.



What are the different dermatologic techniques?



There are various dermatologic procedures, some being used to test and diagnose conditions (such as biopsy, the removal of small sections of the skin to be examined) and some to treat or remove diseases such as cancers.



Some of the techniques used by dermatologists to treat patients include:


  • - Cryotherapy: It consists of freezing (with liquid nitrogen for example) the skin lesions in order to remove. It is mainly used for common benign conditions.
  • - Chemical peels: A layer of the skin is peeled off thanks to a chemical solution. It leaves a regenerated skin under. It is useful to treat skin damaged by the sun or acne, but also for some cosmetic purpose.
  • - Excisions of lesions: The lesions can be removed to be examined but also to prevent a condition to spread o r for cosmetic purposes.
  • - Dermabrasion: The practitioner removes the top layer of the skin with a high-speed rotation brush. It can be used to remove tattoos, wrinkles but also scar tissue.
  • - Laser surgery: The dermatologist can remove thanks to a special laser tumours, scars, warts but also tattoos, moles, birthmarks, scars, wrinkles.



hand holding a machine with a red light on the cheek of a girl

Laser surgery

Source: World Dermatology and Cosmetology Congress - Allied Academies




They are also entitled to perform surgery such as hair surgery in case of alopecia for example (hair loss).



Some dermatologists undergo additional training in order to perform more specific treatments such as the Mohs surgery used to treat skin cancer. Layer of skin are removed and examined under a microscope until the surgeon cannot find any cancer cell.


When and how to visit a dermatologist?



If you see something unusual, uncomfortable or painful on your skin, hair, nails then you should find a dermatologist in your area and consult. Sometimes, a GP or another specialist will refer you to a dermatologist if they have a doubt on a condition or are unable to perform some treatments themselves. Do not hesitate looking for a dermatologist in London if you just find an irregular mole or if you are really bothered by some acne: those are conditions to be treated either because they are really uncomfortable or because they could be the sign of something more serious.



Julia from Findoc