Dermatology is the branch of medicine that deals with the skin. It is a specialty with both medical and surgical components. Dermatologists treat diseases affecting the skin, hair, nails, and sometimes cosmetic problems. 


Acne is a skin condition that arises as a result of the pores of your skin being clogged. 

Acne is unique in that there are many varying types, from blackheads to pimples. 

Each acne also has its own unique treatment. 

For example, perioral dermatitis wouldn’t have the same treatment as hidradenitis suppurativa. 

Common Treatments

For whiteheads and blackheads, you will usually receive acne medication like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.

Pimples are commonly treated with benzoyl peroxide or azelaic acid.

Acne nodules and cysts must be treated with prescription medication, and with hormonal therapy for women. 


Eczema, also called dermatitis, is the most common skin disease dermatologists treat. There are many different types of eczema, from atopic dermatitis to dyshidrotic eczema. 

Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is the most common form of eczema, with more than 16.5 million cases in the US alone. It is not contagious, and usually develops by the age of 5. Atopic dermatitis is characterized by dry, itchy skin and painful, itchy rashes that appear and disappear over time.

Contact Dermatitis

Contact dermatitis happens when your skin touches something that either irritates it or causes an allergic reaction. Contact dermatitis is characterized by itchy skin, followed up with a rash, and possibly blisters. Contact dermatitis isn’t contagious, but can only be treated by avoiding the source.  Unfortunately, this is difficult because there are more than 15,000 different allergy sources currently known. 

Dyshidrotic Eczema

Also called pompholyx, dyshidrotic eczema shows up in the form of tiny, extremely itchy blisters on the hands and feet.

Like most other kinds of eczema, it isn’t contagious, but it can be extremely painful.

The blisters formed by dyshidrotic eczema can last three to four weeks before completely clearing.

Curiously, this may never happen again, or it can become a lifelong disease.

The easiest way to treat dyshidrotic eczema is by avoiding the substance that triggers it. Some common triggers include shampoo, soap, cobalt or nickel.

Unfortunately, metals like cobalt and nickel are everywhere, and are extremely difficult to avoid.

Your mood can also affect dyshidrotic eczema. 

Stress, sweat, wet hands for long periods of time and a rising temperature can all cause dyshidrotic eczema.

Your dermatologist can help you get protection for your hands and feet in order to prevent you from touching the source. 

Hand Eczema

Hand eczema is a different type of eczema than dyshidrotic eczema. 

It is characterized by dry, chapped skin, patches of red, irritated skin, a burning sensation in your hands, itchy blisters, deep, painful cracks that may bleed, and crust, pus and pain on your hands.

Many don’t report these symptoms to their dermatologist, because it can simply look like dry skin in the early stages.

The most effective way to treat hand eczema is to find the cause of it. 

Chemicals like solvents or detergents, wet hands, certain foods, and things that cause an allergic reaction are all sources of hand eczema.

It has been found that those who have atopic dermatitis have a significantly higher risk of developing hand eczema. 


Neurodermatitis, also called lichen simplex chronicus, is a type of eczema that starts out as a few itchy patches of skin. 

The patches will develop on the arms, legs, back of the neck, scalp, and in the groin area on the anus, scrotum or vulva.

These itchy patches get worse the more you scratch them. Given enough time, the itchy patches become so itchy they are painful.

Generally, you are at more risk of developing neurodermatitis as a side effect of another skin disease.

The easiest way to treat neurodermatitis is by using a medicine called a corticosteroid. 

This medicine can sooth swelling, heat, itch, and tenderness on and around the patch of skin affected.

If that doesn’t work, there are a number of other methods that your dermatologist may recommend, ranging from capsaicin cream to coal tar therapy. 

Nummular Eczema

Like the other types of eczema, nummular eczema causes itchiness, though it is characterized by raised, round spots on the skin that look like patches.

Nummular eczema generally forms as a response to dry skin, a bug bite, or a scrape or cut.

Having another type of eczema also makes it more likely for you to develop nummular eczema.

Fortunately, nummular eczema is treatable, and can be healed within three to four weeks.

Nummular eczema can appear again, however, so it is important to continue with steady treatment.

Stasis Dermatitis

Stasis dermatitis, also referred to as gravitational dermatitis, venous eczema or varicose eczema,  is a common type of eczema that usually appears on the lower legs, near your ankles.

Stasis dermatitis is often caused by poor blood flow, and causes swelling, discolored skin, and varicose veins.

Stasis dermatitis is not contagious, but cannot be fully cleared. 

Stasis dermatitis can worsen, however, so continuing treatment is very important.

Your dermatologist will likely recommend elevating your legs and exercising as treatment, in order to improve blood flow.

Hair Loss

There are many different types of hair loss, with various different symptoms. Here are some of the most common types.

Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenetic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss, and affects more than 80 million people in the US alone. 

Both men and women suffer from this condition.

Androgenetic alopecia often starts at any point after puberty in men, and can progress over the course of decades.

In women, the hair thins, but doesn’t recede, usually.

Androgenetic alopecia is hereditary, and cannot be stopped, but it can be managed with surgery or medication.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium occurs when a large number of hair follicles start the “rest period”, or the period of time where the hair doesn’t grow, but doesn’t move on to the next growth period.

This causes the hair to fall out without any new hair growth.

Generally, telogen effluvium doesn’t cause complete baldness, but the hair will appear thin, especially at the crown and on the temples. 

Anagen Effluvium

Anagen effluvium is a type of rapid hair loss that typically results from medical treatment, like chemotherapy.

While the medications are potent and can even kill cancer cells, they may also stop hair follicle production.

Typically, patients will have hair growth again after the treatment is over. 

Dermatologists can provide medication that will promote hair growth as well.

Tinea Capitis

Tinea capitis, also known as scalp ringworm, is a fungal infection in the scalp that is a common cause of hair loss in children.

Tinea capitis will cause hair to fall out in patches that are sometimes circular, leading to bald spots that may get larger as the child grows older.

The affected areas appear red or scaly, and the scalp may be itchy.

Sores and blisters may also form on the scalp, and may ooze pus.

Dermatologists can provide antifungal medication to eliminate the fungus. 

If treated early, children can regrow their hair fast.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, rather than a skin disease. 

Alopecia areata causes the body’s immune system to attack and destroy healthy tissue, including hair follicles. 

This causes hair to fall out, and prevents new hair from growing.

Alopecia areata can affect both adults and children, and hair loss can happen suddenly with no other prior symptoms.

Lichen Planopilaris

Lichen planopilaris is a type of alopecia that occurs when a condition called lichen planus affects the scalp.

The skin may appear dry or flaky, and a rash may start to appear on the skin that causes hair to fall out in clumps.


Psoriasis occurs when the body makes skin cells too quickly, causing skin cells to form visible patches or spots on the skin.

Psoriasis can create reddish patches on the affected area. 

You may also see white, scaly patches that flake like dandruff.

The area affected may be itchy and dry, and there may be a burning sensation and bleeding.

Psoriasis can also cause temporary hair loss if it is on the scalp.

Dermatologists can prescribe a variety of medicines and medicated shampoos to help treat psoriasis, but it cannot be permanently cleared.


Rosacea is a common skin disease that begins as a tendency to blush or have your skin flush easier than other people. 

Rosacea, however, can also make the skin swell, thicken, or become irritated.

Dermatologists have a variety of treatments for rosacea, ranging from laser treatment to simple habit changes.

Skin Cancer

Skin cancer is the most dangerous out of all of the skin conditions dermatologists can treat. 

Cancer is an abnormal cell growth. 

Skin cancer in particular is usually caused by the UV radiation from the sun.

If you believe you may have skin cancer, contact your dermatologist and set up an appointment. They can then check for signs of skin cancer.

Anybody can get skin cancer, and it can be permanent, though it is rarely life-threatening.

The easiest way to treat skin cancer is by avoidance.

Keeping to shady areas whenever possible, wearing sun-protective clothing, applying sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher and avoiding tanning beds can help you avoid getting skin cancer.

Dermatology Frequently Asked Questions

Usually, mild corticosteroid ointments (hydrocortisone) are recommended for sensitive areas, such as your face or skin folds, and to treat widespread patches. 

In order to maintain remission, topical corticosteroids may be applied once a day during flares, and on alternate days or weekends.

Psoriasis plaques start as small red bumps on the skin and grow into raised red patches with a silvery, scaly surface. 

Usually found on elbows, knees, and the lower back, plaques can persist for months or even years without treatment.

If you suffer from mild to moderate rosacea, your doctor might prescribe a cream or gel that you can apply to the affected area. 

By constricting blood vessels, brimonidine (Mirvaso) and oxymetazoline (Rhofade) reduce flushing. 

Results are usually visible within 12 hours after usage.

Acne usually disappears on its own at the end of puberty, but some people still experience acne as adults. 

It can, however, almost always be successfully treated. 

The key is finding the right treatment for you.

Eczema (atopic dermatitis) is the result of a combination of genetics, environmental triggers, and stress. 

Eczema is caused by your immune system overreacting to small irritants or allergens. 

This causes inflammation of the skin.

The affected area may be red or dark brown and be dry and scaly. 

The affected area may also be warm, with some swelling and small, rough bumps.

Earlier stages of skin cancer may look like a small spot or discolored blemish significantly smaller than a fingernail. 

Usually, it is reddish or brown, though sometimes it is white with flaking skin cells surrounded by a small spot of darker skin.

Some warning signs include:

  • Redness or swelling around the border of a mole
  • Color spreading from the border of the mole into the surrounding skin
  • Itching, pain and tenderness in a specific area that persists
  • Changes in the surface of a mole, like oozing, scaliness, and bleeding