The skin is an incredible organ. It is your first line of defense against disease, protects your other organs, warms you up and cools you down, and sends messages about how healthy you are inside. Dermatologists are expert medical doctors and skin surgeons with the unique skills and experience to offer the best care for the organ that cares for you.
Dermatologists have extensive training, going to school for 12 years or more to learn to diagnose and treat more than 3,000 diseases of the skin, hair, and nails as well as cosmetic concerns. Patients see dermatologists for issues that are much more than skin deep. Problems with their skin can harm patients’ sense of self-worth, create discomfort that can make everyday activities difficult, and, in some instances, threaten lives.
If you were to watch a dermatologist at work on any given day, you might see them:
Treat a baby’s prominent birthmark that threatens the child’s eyesight
Remove a mother’s deadly melanoma at its earliest, most treatable stage
Offer relief for a student whose chronic eczema makes sleep nearly impossible
Diagnose the life-threatening liver condition causing a grandfather’s unbearable itching
Treat the hair loss of a young woman, helping her gain the confidence to complete a job search
Gaining the expertise to provide this level of care takes many years of schooling. Learn more about dermatologists and the life-changing care they provide to patients.
No one has completed more training than dermatologists to address concerns with your skin, hair, and nails. Before they can begin practicing, dermatologists receive more than a decade of training, including:
Four years of college to earn a bachelor’s degree
Four years of medical school to become a medical doctor
A year-long internship
Three years of residency, working alongside experienced doctors and completing 12,000 to 16,000 hours of treating patients.
After successfully completing residency training in dermatology, a dermatologist can become board-certified, completing a challenging exam on the knowledge and skills acquired during their years of training.
Board certification from the American Board of Dermatology, the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology, or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada lets you know you are receiving care from someone who has received the most rigorous education in the field. It is important that the board certification be from one of these organizations. There are many different kinds of boards, and other certifications do not reflect the same level of training and expertise.
You can tell a dermatologist is board-certified if the letters FAAD appear after their name. FAAD stands for Fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. Typically, a dermatologist’s website will show whether they are board-certified. Find out what these letters stand for and why you want to choose an FAAD dermatologist.
Dermatologists treat more than 3,000 conditions that affect the skin, hair, and nails. Skin diseases are especially common, affecting one in four Americans each year.
Dermatologists treat a wide variety of skin conditions from deadly skin cancers to warts. Issues dermatologists see may include chronic disease caused by problems with your immune system, allergic reactions to everyday substances, infections caused by bacteria or a virus, and more. Dermatologists also help patients who want to help with cosmetic concerns, including addressing issues with their aging skin, treating wounds caused by surgery to remove a skin cancer, helping to diminish acne or other scars, or helping patients suffering diseases like AIDS restore a healthier appearance. Learn why it's important to seek the advanced medical expertise of a dermatologist.