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Dermatology is the branch of medicine associated with the skin.  Find out what dermatologists do, what treatments they use, and what type of things can affect your skin.

What is Dermatology?

DermatologistDermatology is concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the skin, hair, nails, and adjacent mucous membranes.  Dermatologists are the professionals that have been specially trained to identify and treat these conditions.  Dermatologists first go to medical school and then complete specialised training in a residency program.  They may train to treat both children and adults, depending on their specialty and interest.  Specialised training is received in the following areas:

• The diagnosis and treatment of skin cancers, melanomas, moles, and other tumours of the skin.
• The management of contact dermatitis and other inflammatory skin disorders.
• The diagnosis and treatment of skin manifestations of systemic and infectious diseases.
• The surgical techniques used in dermatology.

As well as these areas, dermatologists also treat cosmetic disorders of the skin, such as hair loss, scars, and skin changes associated with ageing.  Some dermatologists opt to perform cosmetic work such as Botox or collagen injections.

Treatments Used by Dermatologists

Dermatologists use several treatments in their practice.  Some of these include surgery, ultraviolet light therapy, photodynamic therapy, laser therapy, drug treatment, and topical therapy such as creams and lotions.  Radiology may also be used in the case of skin cancers.

In cosmetic dermatology, a wide range of treatments for skin ageing and other cosmetic problems is provided.  These range from creams, to injections, to facial peels, to cosmetic dermatologic surgery, to laser therapy.  When deciding on a treatment for a cosmetic problem, consideration must be given to the type of problem, the treatments available, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of the treatment.

Causes of Skin Changes

Skin changes can occur due to a number of reasons.  Some of these include:

• Acne – a common skin change that occurs during the teen years and can last into adulthood.
• Pregnancy – during this period, dark patches can develop on the face but these usually go away after delivery.
• Actinic keratosis – a type of coloured skin spot that is caused by too much sun exposure.
• Allergic reactions – to medications or other substances.
• Autoimmune diseases – such as lupus and scleroderma.
• Reactions to a bite – such as a tick bite.
• Bacterial skin infections – such as impetigo and cellulitis.
• Viral infections – such as chickenpox or shingles.
• Liver problems – such as hepatitis.

Factors that may Affect the Skin

Eating refined foods such as white flour and sugar, and the products that are made from these, and drinking tea, coffee, or soft drinks can cause wrinkles, unattractive skin and premature ageing.  A lack of healthy blood can also affect the skin.  Healthy blood adds a glow to the skin and keeps it well nourished, moist, and free from dryness and roughness.

Cleansing is also very important to the skin.  Dirt and other particles can hide in the pores of the skin and clog the sweat and sebaceous glands.  Proper cleansing not only removes dust, dirt, makeup and the other grime that accumulates during the day but also stops the oil secreting sebaceous glands from becoming clogged.

Diet is vital for good skin.  The diet needs to provide all of the elements needed for health – such as protein, carbohydrates, fats, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.  This diet should have plentiful quantities of seeds, nuts and grains, vegetables and fruits, and be supplemented by foods that are protective to the skin such as milk, vegetable oils, yoghurt, honey, and yeast.


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