The skin is the largest organ in the integumentary system. It is made up of several layers and covers the underlying bones, muscles, ligaments, and internal organs. The skin performs many important functions for the body, such as protection against pathogens, detection of sensations, evaporation control, heat regulation, water and lipid storage, water resistance, and absorption of molecules of oxygen, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen. Environmental factors such as UV radiation and pollution, along with hereditary factors and poor nutrition can affect the skin negatively and pose a constant threat to it.
Dermatology is a branch of medicine that studies the skin and diseases of the skin. It looks at all of the components of the skin and associated organs of the integumentary system (hair and nails in humans) and how they react and function in the presence of various conditions and pathogens. Dermatologists are responsible for the research, development, and advancement of skin treatments.
Dermatology is divided into many branches or subspecialties, and there are both medical and surgical aspects of dermatology. Subspecialties include cosmetic dermatology, dermatopathology, immunodermatology, teledermatology, pediatric dermatology, medical dermatology, phototherapy, Mohs micrographic surgery, cutaneous allergy, dermatome surgery, and sclerotherapy. Some common therapies that a dermatologist might perform include mole removal, acne scar removal, laser hair removal, hair transplantation, cryosurgery, microdermabrasion, laser therapy to remove tattoos or birth marks, cosmetic rejuvenation and resurfacing, treating sun-damaged skin, and liposuction.
Common skin issues include acne, dry skin, moles, scars, eczema, skin rashes, and hives. Acne is a condition of the skin that affects the oil glands. It occurs when follicles in the skin become blocked, resulting in pimples. Dry skin is a condition in which the skin does not retain sufficient moisture, and the skin becomes prone to sensitivity, cracking, chapping, and feelings of tightness. Moles are skin growths that are black or brown in color. They occur when skin cells grow in clusters instead of being spread out. The majority of moles are benign. A scar is an area of fibrous tissue that replaces the normal skin after an injury occurs. It is a natural part of the healing process and results from the wound repair process. Eczema is a common group of skin conditions in which the skin becomes inflamed, irritated, itchy, and rough-appearing. Blisters sometimes develop that may cause bleeding. A skin rash is a condition of the skin that affects the skin's appearance, texture, or color. A rash may cause the skin to become warm, itchy, dry, cracked, bumpy, or to become swollen and painful. Rashes may occur in only one part of the body, or they may affect the entire skin. Hives are slightly raised patches of skin or bumps. They occur primarily due to allergic reactions, but they can also occur from infections, stress, sun exposure, and other causes.
Some skin conditions can be greatly debilitating to a person and can affect their quality of life. Some of these conditions include hidradenitis suppurativa, psoriasis, shingles, and burns. Hidradenitis suppurativa is a severe form of acne. Complications such as cellulitis, restricted movements, scars, and skin changes can occur if the disease is severe and persistent. Psoriasis is a very common and chronic skin condition. Immune system abnormalities cause the skin cells to grow faster than normal, and these cells end up congregating in raised patches on the skin surface. These skin plaques may become quite itchy and painful. Shingles is a viral infection that occurs when the chickenpox virus becomes active again in the body. It will often produce a rash on one side of the body, along with pain. Burns can be minor or serious. They are classified as first-degree, second-degree, or third-degree based upon the deepest skin layer that they affect.
The field of dermatology as a whole is quite complex because dermatological conditions and diseases do not affect just the skin. They often affect other tissues and organ systems as well as the skin. There are some skin rashes that can become life-threatening, and skin cancers can metastasize to organs within the body. There are also associations between skin disorders and cardiovascular disease, such as the link between psoriasis and cardiovascular disease.
The Various Types and Studies
Therapies Provided by Dermatologists
Journals and Publications
Associations and Organizations