Dermatology is a specialized branch of medicine dealing with the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of skin, hair, and nail conditions. With over 3,000 skin disorders documented (1), dermatologists play a crucial role in helping patients maintain their skin health and overall well-being. This article provides an overview of the most common diagnoses and procedures in dermatology, aiming to raise awareness of prevalent skin conditions and the available treatment options.
Most Common Diagnoses in Dermatology
- Acne Vulgaris
Acne vulgaris, commonly known as acne, is an inflammatory skin condition characterized by the presence of comedones (blackheads and whiteheads), papules, pustules, nodules, and cysts (2). It primarily affects adolescents but can persist into adulthood. Acne is caused by a combination of factors, including increased sebum production, abnormal keratinization, inflammation, and the proliferation of Cutibacterium acnes (formerly Propionibacterium acnes) (3).
- Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder characterized by itching, redness, and scaling (4). It typically begins in early childhood and may continue into adulthood. Atopic dermatitis is associated with a genetic predisposition, a compromised skin barrier, and an overactive immune response (5).
Psoriasis is an autoimmune skin condition characterized by red, scaly, and sometimes itchy patches on the skin (6). It can occur at any age but most commonly presents between the ages of 15 and 35 (7). Psoriasis is a result of an overactive immune system, causing skin cells to grow and shed more quickly than normal.
- Skin Cancer
Skin cancer is the uncontrolled growth of abnormal skin cells, leading to the formation of malignant tumors. The most common types of skin cancer are basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and melanoma (8). Excessive sun exposure, fair skin, and a family history of skin cancer are significant risk factors (9).
- Contact Dermatitis
Contact dermatitis is an inflammatory skin reaction caused by direct contact with an irritant or allergen (10). It presents as redness, swelling, itching, and sometimes blistering. Common triggers include soaps, detergents, cosmetics, and certain plants, such as poison ivy (11).
Most Common Procedures in Dermatology
Cryotherapy involves the application of extreme cold to treat various skin conditions, including warts, actinic keratoses, and some skin cancers (12). Liquid nitrogen is the most commonly used cryogen, rapidly freezing and destroying abnormal skin cells (13).
Excision is a surgical procedure used to remove skin lesions, such as moles, cysts, or skin cancers. The dermatologist numbs the area with a local anesthetic, then uses a scalpel to remove the lesion and a small margin of surrounding healthy skin (14).
- Mohs Surgery
Mohs surgery, also known as micrographic surgery, is a specialized technique used to treat skin cancer, particularly basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. The procedure involves removing thin layers of cancer-containing skin and examining them under a microscope until only cancer-free tissue remains (15).
- Laser Therapy
Laser therapy employs focused beams of light to treat various skin conditions, such as acne, scarring, pigmentation disorders, and vascular lesions (16). Different types of lasers are used depending on the condition and the patient's skin type (17).
- Chemical Peels
Chemical peels involve the application of a chemical solution to the skin, causing it to exfoliate and eventually peel off (18). This procedure can treat various skin concerns, such as acne, pigmentation, and fine lines, revealing a smoother, more even-toned complexion. Chemical peels range from superficial to deep, depending on the concentration and type of acid used (19).
- Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
Photodynamic therapy (PDT) is a non-invasive treatment for certain skin cancers, pre-cancerous lesions, and other skin conditions, such as acne and rosacea (20). PDT involves the application of a photosensitizing agent to the affected skin, followed by exposure to a specific wavelength of light, activating the photosensitizer and destroying targeted cells (21).
Skin biopsies are essential diagnostic procedures in dermatology, used to determine the nature of a suspicious skin lesion or rash. Different types of biopsies include shave biopsy, punch biopsy, and excisional biopsy (22). The samples are sent to a laboratory for histopathological examination, which helps establish an accurate diagnosis and guides appropriate treatment.
Dermatology encompasses a wide range of skin, hair, and nail conditions, with acne vulgaris, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, skin cancer, and contact dermatitis among the most common diagnoses. Common dermatological procedures, such as cryotherapy, excisions, Mohs surgery, laser therapy, chemical peels, photodynamic therapy, and biopsies, are designed to diagnose and treat various skin concerns effectively. Understanding the prevalence and treatment options for these conditions is crucial in promoting skin health and improving patients' quality of life.
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