What is a Dermatologist?

Do you have a strange-looking mole? Unbearable itchy skin? Abnormal hair loss?

If so, you may need to see a dermatologist. These doctors treat people of all ages — from babies to older adults — for problems with skin, hair, and nails. In fact, they can diagnose and treat more than 3,000 conditions, including common skin problems like cancer, eczema, psoriasis, acne, and warts.

Dermatologists also help treat cosmetic skin concerns, such as the appearance of surgical scars and aging skin.

A dermatologist can identify the right treatment for any skin-related problem you might have. Treatment options include medications, light therapies, surgery, and various types of injections.

When needed, dermatologists perform biopsies — they remove a small sample of skin and send it to a laboratory for diagnosis.

Extensive Training

Dermatologists attend school for at least 12 years. Their training includes:

  • Four years of college for a bachelor's degree.
  • Four years of medical school to become a doctor.
  • A one-year internship.
  • Three years of residency training.

Dermatologists can then take a challenging exam to become board-certified.

Make an Appointment

If your skin, hair or nails are causing you discomfort — or if you notice changes to your skin — it may be time to see a dermatologist. Check with your primary care practitioner to discuss your next steps.