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Updated June 17, 2014

Definition: A dermatologist is a medical doctor (MD, or physician) who specializes in the skin, the diseases of the skin, and the relationship of skin lesions to overall disease. You should see a dermatologist if you (1) find a lesion that you suspect could be skin cancer, or (2) have risk factors that increase the likelihood that you will develop skin cancer.

After earning a medical degree and completing an internship, a dermatologist receives three more years of specialty training, becoming an expert dedicated to skin, hair and nails. Many dermatologists have general practices and see patients with all types of skin concerns. Some dermatologists gain additional training and expertise in specific areas of dermatology, such as pediatrics, surgery, or cosmetics, and may go on to have practices specializing in these areas. A dermatologist may also be part of a team of experts who treats advanced skin cancer.

To find a dermatologist in your area, the American Academy of Dermatology offers a convenient online database: Just plug in your ZIP code and a list of dermatologists and their contact information will be provided. Your primary care doctor (general practitioner) may also refer you to a local dermatologist.

Also Known As: skin doctor
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