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What is a Dermatologist?
Dermatology is the field of medicine that deals with the study of diseases of the skin, nails and hair. An individual that is trained in this field is known as a dermatologist. They are trained to assess, diagnose and treat both children and adults with diseases of the skin, hair, nails and the adjacent mucous membranes. Dermatology is a large branch of medicine, and also has other medical fields under it. Some of the subfields of dermatology include the following;
- Cosmetic Dermatology: This field has to deal with the reconstruction and restructuring of the face. This might be done for aesthetic purposes, and also to improve the functions of the organs.
- Dermatopathology: This field has to do with the causes, diagnosis and treatment of the diseases of the skin.
- Immunodermapathology: Immunodermapathology focuses on the treatment of immune-mediated diseases such as lupus, pemphigus vulgaris and so on.
- Teledermatology: Teledermatology focuses on the use of telecommunication technology in the treatment of diseases associated with the skin, nails and hair.
- Surgery: This is also referred to as Mohs surgery, and it focuses on the treatment of skin cancers. The skin is excised, and the tumors are removed. Dermatologists in this field are trained in how to handle both pathology and surgery.
- Pediatric Dermatology: This speciality is about the diseases of the skin, hair and nails in children. This also involves neonates.
As stated above, dermatology covers all the diseases that might develop in the skin, hair, nails and the adjacent mucous membranes. Below are some of the common diseases that can be treated by a dermatologist;
Why Do People Visit A Dermatologist?
People visit dermatologists for a lot of reasons. Below are some of the most common reasons;
- Skin cancer
- Skin infection
- Lichen plantus
- Lupus erythematosus
- Nail disease
- Contact dermatitis
What Diseases Can A Dermatologist Treat?
A dermatologist can treat all diseases associated with the skin, hair and the nails. Below are some of the diseases they treat, and some important information about the diseases;
Keloids, also known as keloidal scar, occur as a result of an abnormal scar formation. They are composed mostly of type 3 and type 1 collagen. Keloids are generally firm and fibrous in nature. They are benign and cannot be spread from one person to another. Keloids might present with symptoms such as itchiness, pain and so on. It has been observed that this skin disorder is more prevalent in people of African descent, as compared to people from Europe, and other parts of the world.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Keloid?
Some of the signs and symptoms of keloids include the presence of an abnormal growth on the skin. Keloids can become infected and develop into an ulcer. The removal of a keloid can result in more severe outcomes. As an illustration, removing a keloid surgically might also leave a scar that would grow to become a keloid. This is why laser surgery is advised, as it has a high success rate
What Causes A Keloid?
The exact cause of keloids isn’t known yet. However, it has been suggested that keloids may occur as a result of changes in the cellular signals that control proliferation and inflammation.
What Are The Risk Factors Associated With Keloids?
- Those with darkly pigmented skin have a significant chance of developing a keloid. However, this disease can also affect people of all types of pigment; it’s just more prominent in highly pigmented persons.
- Genetics: Studies have shown that the tendency to develop keloid scars runs in families. However, there is no sufficient evidence to prove this yet.
How Is Keloid Treated?
Dermatologists use different treatment plans for keloids. Some of them include;
- Corticosteroid injections: These injections are typically given once in every 2 to 3 months. They help to flatten the keloid, and also make the keloid become more red in color. The reason behind this is that the corticosteroids induce the formation of more blood vessels in the affected part. The keloid generally looks better after treatment, although some of the scars might still remain.
- Surgery: This is a procedure that is done by excising the keloid. However, the cutting of the keloid can also lead to the development of another keloid, which might even be larger than the previous one. Surgeons do this by introducing steroids or applying some pressure to the affected site for a long time after the procedure. This largely reduces the risk of the development of another keloid. Radiation treatment has proven to be effective in the treatment of this disease.
- Laser: This is an effective way of removing keloids, and making them redder. Laser treatment is safe and doesn’t come with a lot of pain. However, the patient might have to undergo more than one session for the disease to be completely treated. The downside to this is that laser treatment might be pricey.
- Radiation: As earlier mentioned, radiation is one of the most effective methods of treating keloids. It’s safe and doesn’t come with a lot of discomforts.
- Silicone gel: This is done by applying silicone gel on the affected part of the skin, for a long time.
Vitiligo is a skin disorder that causes depigmentation in patches. This disease can affect the skin of any part of the body. This includes the face, back, extremities and so on. Vitiligo occurs when the pigment that gives the body colour, fails to function. Vitiligo can occur in anyone, regardless of gender, skin colour, or race. However, it’s more noticeable in people with darker skin. This condition isn’t contagious, and also not life-threatening. Dermatologists can treat this disease. In fact, the colour of the skin can be restored, however, this won’t prevent the reoccurrence of the disease.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Vitiligo?
Some of the signs and symptoms of vitiligo include the following;
- Patients present with a patchy loss of skin colour.
- Patients might also have an alteration of the inner layer of the retina.
- Patients might have a discolouration of their hair, especially their eyelashes, eyebrows and beard.
Vitiligo might develop on any part of the body. However, it occurs in different patterns. They include;
- On one side of the body: This is a type of vitiligo that affects just one side of the body.
- On few areas of the body: This is also known as focal vitiligo.
- Many parts of the body: This is also known as generalized vitiligo, and it affects many parts of the body.
What Are The Causes Of Vitiligo?
Vitiligo occurs due to the lack of function of the pigment-producing cells in some parts of the body. However, the exact reasons for the death or lack of function of these melanin-producing cells aren’t known yet. Researchers have suggested that this might be due to the following reasons;
- Disorder of the immune system
- Events such as stress, sunburn and so on.
What Are The Complications Of Vitiligo?
Some of the complications of vitiligo include the following;
- Depression: This occurs as a result of the social stigmatization that is associated with vitiligo.
- Skin cancer
- Loss of hearing
How Is Vitiligo Treated?
There are many treatment options available for vitiligo. However, the outcomes of these treatments differ, from patient to patient. Dermatologists might administer medications, surgery or therapy. Examples of medications that the physician might administer include the following;
- Corticosteroid Creams: Corticosteroid creams are used to restore the colour of the affected part. This would be more effective if started early. Although, patients might not see a change in their skin colour for a long time. However, it’s important to know that this type of cream might cause some side effects. As an illustration, the cream can thin the skin, and can also cause the development of lines on the skin.
- Immune system medications: Examples of this type of medications include tacrolimus. They are more effective for the treatment of small parts of the body that is affected by vitiligo. They usually have a lesser side effect, as compared to corticosteroid creams.
- Phototherapy: This is done to restore the colour to depigmented areas of the skin. However, this has to do multiple times for an excellent result to be achieved.
This is a condition in which the hair follicles are blocked with oil and dead skin cells. This might cause the appearance of pimples, and blackheads on parts of the body, such as the face, back and the neck. There are treatments for this skin disorder. However, they might take time, before patients start seeing results. Acne varies in severity. People affected by severe acne might experience emotional and psychological distress and breakdown.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Acne?
Some of the signs and symptoms of acne include the following;
- People affected by acne, tend to have an increased secretion of oil from the sebum glands of the skin.
- They usually do have large, painful lumps under the surface of their skin.
- They might also have painful lumps, that are filled with pus under their skin.
- They might have whiteheads, blackheads, and so on.
- Patients might present with small red, and tender bumps on their skin.
What Are The Causes Of Acne?
There are some factors involved in the development of acne. They include the following;
- Genetics: Studies have shown that this skin disorder runs in families, especially in first degree relatives and in twins. People that have a family history of acne should endeavor to visit a dermatologist for the best and effective way to prevent or treat the disease.
- Hormones: This disease tends to occur more when there is a surge in hormones. This is why it’s more prevalent in teenagers undergoing puberty. During puberty, androgenic hormones do cause the follicle glands to grow bigger and produce more oil. In addition, there are some medical conditions that cause the surge in sex hormones and hence induce acne. Some of the include polycystic ovarian syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia and so on.
- Infections: Infections could also lead to the development of acne. For example, Bacterial species such as Propionibacterium acne leads to the development of acne.
- Diet: The link between acne and diet isn’t clearly understood yet. However, it has been observed that unhealthy food increases the risk of developing acne. On the other hand, consuming healthy foods, such as vitamin-rich meals, balanced diet reduces the risk of developing acne.
- Stress: Stress is one of the most prevalent inducers of acne. Studies have shown a connection between the severity of acne and stress.
What Are The Risk Factors Of Acne?
These are factors that increase the risks of developing acne. Below are some of them;
- Age: Studies have found a connection between the hormone levels and acne. This is why the disease is more prevalent in teenagers and young adults.
- Stress: Contrary to what a lot of people believe, weight doesn’t cause acne. However, it worsens the condition, when the individual already has it.
- Family history: Studies have shown that this skin disorder runs in families, especially in first degree relatives and in twins. People that have a family history of acne should endeavor to visit a dermatologist for the best and effective way to prevent or treat the disease.
- Hormonal changes: Acne tends to develop when children hit puberty. This can be attributed to the surge in their hormone levels. This disease tends to occur more when there is a surge in hormones. During puberty, androgenic hormones do cause the follicle glands to grow bigger and produce more oil. In addition, there are some medical conditions that cause the surge in sex hormones and hence induce acne. Some of the include polycystic ovarian syndrome, congenital adrenal hyperplasia and so on.
How Is Acne Treated?
A lot of people do make use of over-the-counter medications. However, if this doesn’t work, it’d be beneficial to contact your dermatologist. They can diagnose, and administer the right medications, or even perform a procedure if there is a need for it. Some of the common medications dermatologists prescribe include a retinoid, antibiotics, salicylic acid, dapsone and so on. Procedures carried out by dermatologists include lasers and photodynamic therapy, chemical peels, steroid injection, and extraction of whiteheads, blackheads and so on.
It’s important to consult your dermatologist if you notice you have a skin, hair or nail disorder.
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