Dermatology is the study and practice of medicine that involves the scope of diseases of the skin. The dermatologist can function in a clinical practice, an academic setting or in a research setting.
Dermatologists are generally medical doctors that have completed a four-year college degree as well as a 4-year medical college degree. Dermatologists must complete a year of internship in a postgraduate program followed by two additional years learning the study and practice of dermatology. Dermatologists can then enter a general dermatology practice or can return to academia in order to study the field of dermatology or to develop new ways of treating skin disorders.
A general dermatologist practices in an office and sometimes a hospital setting and treats common skin conditions such as acne vulgaris, acne of adulthood, warts and common diseases of the skin, such as eczema and psoriasis. Depending upon the practice, certain surgical procedures can be performed or the dermatologist can have the availability of phototherapy and/or surgery in the office.
Some dermatologists specialize in areas such as cosmetic laser surgery for extra hair growth on the body or for the treatment of certain kinds of laser-responsive treatments. Often, this kind of dermatology practice is specialized in this area and do not do much in the way of general dermatology.
Some dermatologists are essentially dermasurgeons and specialize in the complex removal of skin lesions. These specialists often operate on lesions that are cancerous and can be plastic surgeons in some regard as the removal of cancerous lesions can be difficult and cosmetically unacceptable unless the surgeon is skilled in cosmetic surgery.
Research dermatology is involved in the application of new medications and new treatments for skin diseases. This kind of dermatologist spends much time in a laboratory in an academic setting, attempting to understand dermatological conditions and how they can best be treated.