Dermatology involves the study, research, diagnosis, and management of health conditions that may affect the skin, fat hair, nails, and membranes. A dermatologist is the health professional who specializes in this area of healthcare.
The skin is the largest organ of the body, which acts as a barrier to protect the internal organs from injury and bacteria. It is also a good indicator of the overall health of the body, making the field of dermatology important in the diagnosis and management of many health conditions.
For GPs: Dermatoscope video tutorial
Actinic keratoses, also known as solar keratoses, are rough patches of skin caused by damage from years of sun exposure. They aren't usually a serious problem and can go away on their own, but it's important to get them checked as there's a chance they might turn into skin cancer at some point. You can read more on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.
It's normal to lose hair. We can lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day, often without noticing. Hair loss isn't usually anything to be worried about but occasionally it can be a sign of a medical condition. Some types of hair loss are permanent, like male and female pattern baldness. This type of hair loss usually runs in the family. Other types of hair loss may be temporary. They can be caused by an illness, stress, treatment for cancer, weight loss and iron deficiency. You can read more on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.
Angioedema is swelling underneath the skin. It's usually a reaction to a trigger, such as a medication or something you're allergic to. It isn't normally serious, but it can be a recurring problem for some people and can very occasionally be life-threatening if it affects breathing. There’s more information on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.
Atopic eczema (atopic dermatitis) is the most common form of eczema, a condition that causes the skin to become itchy, red, dry and cracked. Atopic eczema is more common in children, often developing before their first birthday. However, it may also develop for the first time in adults. It's usually a long-term (chronic) condition, although it can improve significantly, or even clear completely, in some children as they get older. You can find out more on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.
Skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world. Non-melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the upper layers of the skin. The term non-melanoma distinguishes these more common types of skin cancer from the less common skin cancer known as melanoma, which can be more serious. In the UK, more than 100,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year. It affects more men than women and is more common in the elderly. You can read more on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.
Bowen's disease is a very early form of skin cancer that's easily treatable. The main sign is a red, scaly patch on the skin. It affects the squamous cells – which are in the outermost layer of skin – and is sometimes referred to as squamous cell carcinoma in situ. The patch is usually very slow-growing, but there's a small chance it could turn into a more serious type of skin cancer if left untreated. The NHS website has more information. Referral information for GPs is here.
Pompholyx (dyshidrotic eczema) is a type of eczema that causes tiny blisters to develop across the fingers, palms of the hands and sometimes the soles of the feet. It can affect people of any age, but it's most often seen in adults under 40. You can find out more on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.
Hirsutism is excessive hair growth in certain areas of the body. It's a problem that mainly affects women. It's relatively common, although some women may find it embarrassing or distressing to live with. It's often a long-term problem, but there are a number of treatments that can help keep it under control. There’s more information on the NHS website. Information for GPs is here. Further information about hair removal is here.
Excessive sweating is common and can affect the whole body or just certain areas. Sometimes it gets better with age but there are things you can do and treatments that can help. There’s more information on the NHS website. The Endoscopic Thoracic Sympathectomy for Hyperhidrosis Commissioning Policy, for the information of GPs, is here.
Keratoacanthoma (KA) is a low-grade, or slow-growing, skin cancer tumor that looks like a tiny dome or crater. KA is benign despite its similarities to squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), or the abnormal growth of cancerous cells on the skin’s most outer layer. KA originates in the skin’s hair follicles and rarely spreads to other cells. There’s more information, here. Referral information for GPs is here.
Molluscum contagiosum (MC) is a viral infection that affects the skin. It most commonly affects children, although it can occur at any age. MC is generally a harmless condition that normally gets better in a few months without any specific treatment. However, it's common for the condition to spread around the body, so it can take up to 18 months or more for the condition to clear completely. There’ more information on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.
Onychodystrophy is the name given for a variety of nail disorders which may be caused due to an infection or even noninfectious causes of nail disorders like dermatophytic onychomycosis, psoriasis, and contact dermatitis. Onychodystrophy is a genetic condition which causes problems in the finger bones which in turn results in nail deformation and onychodystrophy. There’s more information, here. Referral information for GPs is here.
Rosacea is a common but poorly understood long-term skin condition that mainly affects the face. It can be controlled to some degree with long-term treatment, but sometimes the changes in physical appearance can have a significant psychological impact. You can read more on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.
Scabies is very common and anyone can get it. It should be treated quickly to stop it spreading. One of the first symptoms is intense itching, especially at night. The scabies rash usually spreads across the whole body – apart from the head. You can read more on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.
Vitiligo is a long-term condition where pale white patches develop on the skin. It's caused by the lack of melanin, a pigment in the skin. Vitiligo can affect any area of skin, but most commonly occurs on the face, neck and hands, and in skin creases. There’s more information on the NHS website. Referral information for GPs is here.