Disorders of the skin, hair, and nails fall within the remit of a dermatologist. The specialty is divided broadly into medical and surgical fields, with clinicians in secondary care often practising both. It should be noted that in some countries, training and practice in dermatology are combined with venereology, whereas in the United Kingdom, genitourinary medicine is a separate specialty.
Dermatology is chiefly an outpatient specialty, and most patient referrals request an initial diagnosis and treatment of an unknown skin disease or review of more complex and chronic cases beyond the skill of the general practitioner. Occasionally, patients are very unwell or incapable of applying therapies at home and require inpatient admission under the care of a dermatologist until they can be managed in the community.
Patients are also admitted to day case units for the infusion of novel biologic therapies to manage psoriasis and other skin diseases.Diagnoses are clinical in the overwhelming majority of cases, and dermatology requires relatively few investigations. Clinically diagnosing skin disorders takes skill and experience, plus a good grounding in clinical medicine.
Dermatologists use a comprehensive formulary with topical therapies, systemic drugs including novel immunomodulatory drugs, phototherapies (with or without oral sensitisers), laser treatments, cryotherapy, and other treatment modalities alone or in combination—a huge variety of treatments to manage a tremendous number of diseases. Box 2 presents some of the pros and cons of a career in dermatology.
- care and concern
- critical thinking
- ability to counsel
- an eye for detail
- stress management
- friendly approach
Should i opt for it?
Since dermatological problems have low levels of mortality, this discipline is not accorded a lot of time in any undergraduate medical course. However, dermatological problems can have serious implication for the self esteem, self image and social life of a person which leads to a poor quality of life. The psychological aspects of even mild dermatological disorders are now receiving increasing attention. Hence, you should not ignore the career prospects of dermatology. Here are a few career options for you if you decide to specialize in dermatology:
- Clinical practice in dermatology has grown more and more important, especially as the psychological implications of skin disfigurements have come to be recognized. Connective tissue diseases, vascular diseases, skin allergies, rashes and severe drug reactions can be potentially fatal while severe psoriasis, atopic eczema etc also have serious consequences. With increase of pollution and use of cosmetics, the incidence of such skin diseases is also on the increase.
- There is also scope for practicing surgical dermatology. This includes excision of tumors, skin grafts, plastic surgery and Moh’s micrographic surgery which involves microscopic confirmation of full excision of tumors before closing the surgical wound.
- You can also opt for an academic career in dermatology, concentrating primarily on teaching and research. In addition to the traditional area of research, sun protection is a new concern which now commands considerable attention in the field of research in dermatology.
Pre qualifications required to join the stream
If you want to become a dermatologist, here are the steps which you must follow:
- Complete your +2 level with physics, chemistry and biology.
- Clear the pre medical examinations and obtain MBBS degree for a reputed medical school.
- Complete one and a half year of compulsory training.
- Appear in a post graduate medical entrance test and complete MD in dermatology from a reputed institute.
- Get your registration and set up your practice.
Courses and Duration
“Dermatology is counted among one of the highly competitive medical fields, this field requires many years of education and training”.
Once you have completed 10+2 with PCB, you are eligible for Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) course. After MBBS, you can pursue master’s degree program and doctor of medicine (MD) in dermatology.
After completion of the MBBS course, you have to take entrance exams like All India post graduate medical test, PGI Entrance Exam, AIIMS PG Entrance Exam or individual state entrance exams like Maharashtra CET, or other entrances of deemed universities. Admissions depend on your rank in these tests. With dermatology becoming almost as soughtafter as radiology, acquiring a seat in any good college is difficult.One could opt for the three-year MD in dermatology, venereology, and leprology, or do the two-year DDVL- Diploma in Dermatology, Venereology, and Leprology.If not these two, then one could also apply for DNB (Diplomate in National Board) in Dermatology, offered by some colleges through a separate centralised exam.
The only drawback of this three-year DNB is noted to be its low pass percentage.After a DDVL one could study for two years and appear either for the DNB or MD examinations. Some dermatologists prefer doing fellowships in lasers, trichology, paediatric-dermatology, dermato-pathology, cosmetology, or different types of dermato surgeries from India or abroad, depending on the field and their interest. These fellowships can be of three months, six months, or a year.
Dermatology is an end branch. This means that one need not study further. In fact, it may also be called as a super specialisation within a specialisation. Dermatology PG courses in Institutes like PGI, Chandigarh and AIIMS, New Delhi, are of the highest standards when equated worldwide.
This specialisation is related to physiology and pathology of the skin, hair and nails. You will discover how a simple rash can be so complicated and troublesome. How a dermatologist can diagnose hidden internal disorders including malignancies by the clinical skills developed.
In dermatology, courses at certificate level, diploma level, bachelor and master level are available. Most sought dermatology courses are listed below:
- Diploma in Dermatology – 2 years
- Bachelor of Science in Dermatology – 3 years
- Post Graduate Diploma in Dermatology, Venerology & Leprosy – 2 years
- Master of Science in Dermatology, Venereology & Leprology – 2 years
- Doctor of Medicine in Dermatology & Venereology – 3 years
- Doctor of Philosophy in Dermatology & Venereology – 3 years
One can choose the following specializations in dermatology:
- Mohs surgery
- Pediatric dermatology
- Cosmetic dermatology
Subspecialties and interests
- Medical dermatology
- Surgical dermatology
- Hair and nail disorders
- Genital skin disease
- Paediatric dermatology
- Immunodermatology, including patch testing
- Blistering disorders
- Connective tissue diseases
- Cosmetic dermatology
- Genetic skin disease
Areas of specialisation
Cosmetic Dermatology – Cosmetic Dermatology is a scientific super-specialty of Dermatology which aims to bring science to the concept of Beauty. Dermatologists after completing a MS in the field of surgical dermatology are trained to use laser surgery, botox and fillers. Further, the cosmetic procedures include chemical peels, dermabrasion, derma roller, bhepharoplasty, face lifts and liposuction. They treat scars, acne, hair fall, wrinkles, black spots, pigmentation etc. using different procedures depending upon the type of the skin.
Dermatopathology -A Dermatopathologist is a pathologist or dermatologist who specializes in the pathology of the skin. This is a field which is shared by pathologists and dermatologists who complete one year of dermato-pathology fellowship (which includes six months training in general pathology and six months in dermato-pathology). Dermatopathologist diagnoses and monitors diseases of the skin including infectious, immunological, degenerative, and neoplastic diseases.
Immunodermatology – This field specializes in the treatment of immune-mediated skin diseases such as pemphigus valgaris, bullous pemphigoid, lupus erythema etc. These individuals work in immuno-pathology labs.
Mohs surgery- Is a sub-specialty that focuses on the management of skin cancer, using a tissue-sparing technique. Physicians trained in this technique receive exhaustive training in pathology, as well as surgery.
Pediatric Dermatology- Physicians qualify for Pediatric Dermatology after completing a pediatric, as well as dermatology residency. Some opt for a post-residency fellowship. Pediatric dermatology includes complex diseases of the neonates, hereditary skin ailments or genodermatoses. Pediatric dermatologists treats specific skin disease categories with emphasis on those diseases which predominate in infants, children, and adolescents.
Tele-Dermatology – Tele-dermatology is the sub-section, wherein, telecommunication technologies are utilized to exchange medical information, via media, invariably done by non-dermatologists to evaluate off-site by the dermatologists. This subspecialty deals with options to view skin conditions over a large distance to provide knowledge exchange, to establish second-opinion services for experts or to use this for follow-up of individuals with chronic skin conditions.
What will be the procedure to get admission in Dermatology courses?
Aspiring candidates can get admission in MBBS course through All India Pre Medical Entrance Test (AIPMT). For admission to All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), candidates are required to appear the entrance examination of AIIMS. Other Universities/institutions also conduct their own medical entrance exams for providing admission. Admission process from college to college varies.
Here we are providing a list of some entrance test, in which you can appear to get admission:
- AIIMS PG
- NEET PG
- Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER) Exam
- All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)
- Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER)
- Maharashtra University of Health Sciences
- Padmashree Dr. D.Y. Patil University
- SRM University
After obtaining a degree in Dermatology, you can start up your career as a “Dermatologist”.
Some of the prominent institutes or universities for courses in dermatology are
- Skin Institute & School of Dermatology (New Delhi),
- Government Medical College and Hospital (Chandigarh),
- Department of Dermatology & Venereology (Delhi University),
- Department of Dermatology – Pondicherry Institute of Medical Sciences,
- NTR University of Health Sciences (Andhra Pradesh),
- Tamil Nadu Dr MGR Medical University,
- NRS Medical College (Kolkata) and
- SRM University etc.
Some of the best colleges in India offering Diploma in Dermatology:
- B. R Ambedkar Medical College, Karnataka
- JSS Medical College and Hospital, Karnataka
- Mahatma Gandhi Mission Medical College, Maharashtra
- Care College of Physiotherapy and Paramedics, Andhra Pradesh
- College of Ayurved, Pune
Best places in World to study dermatology
Several top universities of the world offer dermatology courses. These include Harvard Medical School, John Hopkins School of Medicine, Washington University School of medicine, Columbia School of Physicians and Surgeons, Emory University, Thomas Jefferson University and University of Michigan.