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Dermatology, Helping Treat Skin Problems
Humans generally engage in outdoor activities and in physical contact with others and objects around them. This can cause the skin, the outermost layer of the body, to be exposed to health disorders and problems. Problems that occur may include itching, infection, skin discoloration, and so on. The largest organ that humans have is susceptible to various problems and these problems affect all ages, ranging from acute to chronic disorders.
To overcome skin-related health problems, it takes a specialist doctor that has mastered handling the ins and outs of the skin. These doctors also frequently deal with sexual health issues – they are referred to as Dermatologist and Venereologist.
Genital skin specialists are required to master Dermatology, a branch of medicine that focuses on studying the ins and outs of skin, hair, nails, scalp, and other skin diseases. Meanwhile, specialists who master the field of dermatology are referred to as dermatologists. Many think that dermatologists only deal with facial treatments – they actually also deal with skin problems throughout the body.
For specialist doctors who handle both skin problems and venereal diseases, they are termed dermatovenerology specialists.
The human skin is the largest organ in the human body, which when stretched, can reach two square meters. The skin functions to regulate body temperature, give a sense of touch, and protect the organs and tissues within the body.
Every human being has different color, texture, and skin thickness, which may be caused by genetic factors, age, race, or gender. Even so, all human skins consist of the three same layers, namely the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis.
The epidermis is the outermost layer of skin that is visible to the human eye. The keratinocyte layer is the largest part that comprises the epidermis. The dermis is the layer of skin under the epidermis, which is thicker and serves to protect the internal parts of the body.
Hypodermis is the third layer of skin and the deepest layer that contains fat and helps in adjusting body temperature. This layer, also called the subcutaneous or subcutis layer, attaches the skin to the muscles and the tissues underneath.
Sub-specialties in Dermatology
The field of dermatology and venereology is clinically divided into several sub-specialties, namely:
- Paediatric dermatology, a sub-speciality focused on treating skin and genital diseases in paediatric patients. Types of skin problems that are handled include allergies, disorders due to malnutrition, birthmarks, skin infections, and skin disorders in newborns.
- Geriatric dermatology, a sub-specialty focused on treating skin and venereal diseases in the elderly. Some of the commonly treated skin problems include lentigo senilis, pruritus, solar elastosis, and skin infections.
- Tropical dermatology, a sub-specialty that focuses on treating skin infections that occur in tropical regions. Types of skin problems that are treated include infections caused by Streptococcus bacteria that occur on the skin surface (erysipelas), cellulitis, ringworm, and candidiasis.
- Cosmetic dermatology, a sub-specialty focused on aesthetic issues such as skin tone and overall appearance. Types of skin problems that are treated include scars, sagging skin, pigmentation disorders, baldness, hair loss, nail disorders, hair growth disorders, and skin changes that occur due to the aging process.
- Dermatologic allergy and immunology, a sub-specialty focused on treating skin diseases related to allergies and immune disorders. Commonly treated diseases include psoriasis or chronic skin inflammation, angioedema, urticaria, allergic contact dermatitis, and atopic dermatitis.
- Tumors and skin surgery, a sub-specialty that focuses on diagnosing and treating tumors, skin cancer, and surgical procedures on the skin. Commonly treated diseases include melanoma, benign skin cancer that becomes malignant (Bowen’s disease), carcinoma, and benign tumors.
- Sexually transmitted diseases, a sub-specialty focused on dealing with infectious diseases due to sexual intercourse which usually is carried out without protection. Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) that can be treated include syphilis, gonorrhea, bacterial vaginosis, vaginal candidiasis, and pubic pediculosis.
Diseases Treated by Dermatologists and Venereologists
The following are some of the types of skin diseases that can be treated by a dermatologist and venereologist:
- Skin cancer
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Keratosis pilaris
- Skin problems due to chemicals, radiation, and burn scars
- Glandular disorders in the skin such as sweat and sebaceous glands.
- Eczema, a chronic skin disease characterized by irritation and inflammation, is commonly indicated by rashes, itching, dry skin, skin thickening, and peeling skin. The most common type of eczema is atopic dermatitis, which tends to be genetically inherited and is the immune system’s overreaction to irritation.
- Acne, one of the chronic skin diseases that may appear on the face, chest, back, shoulders, or upper arm, due to hormonal imbalances.
- Psoriasis, a skin disorder characterized by the appearance of red patches accompanied by silvery dead skin cells on the surface of the skin. This disease can disappear and reappear and may occur due to an imbalance of the immune system. In addition, its appearance can be triggered by infection, scratches, cuts, and emotional stress.
- Rosacea, a common skin disorder that occurs on the face, is a reddish patch that appears on the chin, forehead, cheeks, or nose. If it gets worse, the disease can spread to the eyes, neck, back and chest.
- Acute skin problems that occur in a short period of time accompanied by severe symptoms such as warts, hair loss, blisters, cold sores, calluses, sunburn, varicose veins, lice, bruises, sebaceous cysts, ingrown hair.
- Skin problems due to allergies and immune disorders such as atopic dermatitis, nummular dermatitis, pityriasis rosea, allergic contact dermatitis, discoid lupus erythematosus.
- Skin problems due to infection caused by fungi, bacteria (impetigo, leprosy, cellulitis), virus (herpes, warts), scabies.
- Vitiligo, a skin disorder caused by loss of pigment and causes fading skin tone. It is common in the area of the face, hands, and feet.
Medical Procedures That Dermatologists Can Perform
Like most doctors, a dermatologist will initiate a consultation first prior to executing a procedure. Your doctor will check your condition and medical history to make a proper diagnosis.
To have a deeper understanding on the medical actions that a dermatologist and venereologist can perform, the following is an explanation based on competency standards in terms of dealing with complaints related to skin problems:
- The basic examination consists of tracing the medical history, medical interview, and physical examination of the skin and genital organs that are affected. From this physical examination, the doctor will determine the diagnosis and provide the most suitable treatment.
- If a basic physical examination is deemed ineffective to enforce the diagnosis, the doctor may call for some additional tests such as blood tests, skin swab tests (to detect fungi, bacteria, or parasites), and skin biopsies.
- Cosmetic interventional dermatology procedures, as cosmetic treatment. Some of the procedures include corticosteroid injections, blackhead extraction, botox treatment, hair or fine hair removal, laser treatment, and phototherapy.
- Surgical interventional dermatology procedures, which include local anaesthesia, electrosurgery, cryosurgery, tissue repair, wound care, and emergency surgery.
When To Seek Treatment From A Dermatologist
Skin disorders may come in numerous types, depending on the triggers and symptoms. You need to be cautious if the skin disorder you are experiencing progresses with severe symptoms or acute skin disorders, as they require prompt treatment from a dermatologist.
In addition, chronic skin diseases that have been ongoing for a long time and continue to appear, will also need to be treated appropriately by a specialist to reduce the intensity or even cure them entirely.
For those of you who experience skin disorders around the genital area, it is recommended to consult a specialist to detect the disease you may possibly suffer from. You are strongly advised not to wait until it gets worse.
If you experience the following symptoms on your skin, it is recommended to see a dermatologist immediately:
- Skin rashes
- Genital and anal injury
- Painful urination
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Abnormal genital discharge
- Nail changes in shapes and colors
- Severe dandruff and hair loss
- Lumps, pain, itching, and unpleasant odor in the genitals.
- Itches, pain, discoloration, dry, numb, thickened, thinned, scaly, blistered, sores, or a lump felt on the skin
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