Your skin is the largest organ of your body. It protects you from microbes and the elements, protects your other organs, helps regulate body temperature, enables you to feel touch, heat, and cold, and sends messages about your body’s overall health. As with all of the body’s major organs, it can be affected by everything from minor irritations to life-threatening disease. Those 20 feet are the medical territory of a dermatologist.
You may think of a dermatologist as the person who helps keep you looking young and you’d be right — dermatologists are the doctors who specialize in treating the skin, hair, and nails. But cosmetic dermatology doesn’t even scratch the surface of what dermatologists do to keep this vital organ healthy.
Some of the conditions that a dermatologist would treat include:
Acne: The most common skin condition in the U.S., acne is typically formed when oil glands in the skin produce too much of a substance called sebum, clogging pores. That causes whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, and deep cysts on the face, neck, back, chest, and shoulders. While it’s most common in teenagers, you can get acne at any age. Treatment may range from topical medicines and oral medication to chemical peels and laser therapy.
Eczema: Eczema (which is actually a term for a group of skin conditions) causes inflammation of the skin. Skin may be red, swollen, dry, or itchy. Dermatologists can treat it with creams and other medicines.
Psoriasis: Psoriasis produces patches of thick, red plaques or silvery scales that pile up on the skin’s surface. Stemming from a problem in the body’s immune system, psoriasis usually appears on the elbows, knees, legs, face and scalp or, less commonly, on the bottom of the feet, the fingernails, genitals, or inside the mouth. It’s a chronic condition that a dermatologist can treat with creams or oral medication.
Rosacea: Causing redness or small bumps on the nose, cheeks, and chin, rosacea is a chronic condition mostly affecting women and people with light skin. Dermatologists aren’t sure what causes rosacea, but factors as diverse as heat, exercise, sunlight, wind, cold, spicy food, alcohol, and stress may make symptoms worse. There is no cure, however, medication, laser therapy and lifestyle changes can help control symptoms.
Skin Cancer: Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer, with one in five Americans developing it by age 70. Most skin cancer is caused by exposure to the sun, when ultraviolet radiation damages healthy cells. If diagnosed early, it can have the highest rates of cure for cancer. Warning signs may include skin growths like moles, bumps, patches, or discoloration that change in size, shape, color, thickness, or texture. A dermatologist should examine your skin at least once a year for signs of skin cancer.
Other conditions that dermatologists treat include:
- Hair loss
- Poison ivy, oak and sumac
- Signs of aging
- Varicose and spider veins
- Allergic drug rashes
This is all to say: There are more than 3,000 skin conditions that a dermatologist can identify and treat and not all of them are purely skin-deep.
This blog is intended to be informational in nature. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.
If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.