Dermatology and Dermatopathology – what is the difference?

The skin is an integral part of the body’s defense mechanism, as it protects against external threats such as UV rays, bacteria, and toxic agents. Despite this, skin diseases are among the most common medical problems, but these can usually be resolved with a visit to a dermatologist. However, there are times when the help of a dermatopathologist is needed. Dermatology and dermatopathology – what is the difference?

Dermatology
Dermatology is a medical specialty that involves the diagnosis and treatment of diseases that affect the skin. This includes a range of skin problems such as acne, skin allergies, skin cancer, dermatitis, eczema, and rosacea.A dermatologist also treats diseases of the hair and nails.

Dermatopathology
Dermatopathology is a subcategory of both dermatology and pathology, and focuses on the microscopic examination of skin biopsies. The dermatopathologist views the skin samples under the microscope, taking specific note of the structure and composition of the skin, in order to identify any abnormalities. Dermatopathology is a very precise science, because interpreting the skin samples is often complicated, as some skin diseases share similar patterns.

What’s the difference?
If your dermatologist in unsure about the diagnosis of a particular skin condition, he/her will take a skin sample and send it to the lab for further testing. The examination and interpretation of the skin sample does not fall within the purview of dermatology. That’s where dermatopathology comes in. The dermatopathologist willexamine the sample under a microscope, and then report his/her diagnosis or findings to the dermatologist.

At Skin Cancer Specialists, P.C. & Aesthetic Center, serving the greater Atlanta metro area, we know how important a proper daiagnois is to the success of any treatment protocol for your skin condition. Our experienced dermatopathologists have the necessary training and expertise ensure that you get the right diagnosis.  Contact us today to find out more.

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