Introduction to Dermatology

Our skin protects us from injuries and infections, and shields us from light and heat. It helps regulate our temperatures, relays information about our environments to the brain, and stores water, fat and vitamin D. Consisting of two main layers – The Epidermis and the Dermis – The skin is the body’s largest organ, weighing about 6 pounds. As our most visible organ, it plays an important part in our appearances.

Dermatology is a medical specialty concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases and tumors of the skin, hair, nails, and mucous membranes. The dermatologist is a physician specially trained to diagnose and treat, medically or surgically, rashes, tumors, growths, and cancers that may affect the skin, hair, and nails. The range of disorders treated spans the human life cycle from infant diaper rashes to skin cancer in the elderly.

It is important to be able to take a history from the patient as the the first step in formulating a treatment plan and to enable the identification of obvious causes. Most questions should be of the open–ended variety ( those beginning with who, what, where when, how or why) so that the maximum amount of information can be elicited from the patient and so that the patient is not lead or forced into an answer.