A dermatologist is a physician trained in diagnosing and treating conditions, disorders and diseases of the skin. While all dermatologists must be licensed and certified by the governing body in their practicing region, there are different types of dermatologists. Subspecialists within each branch of specialized medicine. The number of recognized subspecialties in any medical profession, including dermatology, depends on the licensing and governing board for the region and the specialty. For example, the American Board of Dermatology recognizes three subspecialties for dermatologists: pediatric dermatologist, dermatopathology, and procedural dermatology. The British Association of Dermatologists recognizes some of the same subspecialties as well as additional ones.
The primary differences in the types of dermatologists are the requirements for obtaining special certification or licensure. The requirements may entail a specialized fellowship, internship, or combination of education, training and practical experience. Meeting the requirements as set forth by the governing body that issues subspecialty certification or licensure may allow a dermatologist to either own or work in a specialized practice.
One type of dermatology subspecialty that is widely recognized by many governing boards is pediatric dermatology. This is a specialty of dermatology that deals specifically with skin disorders and diseases in children. These physicians may treat congenital skin conditions as well as any that may develop during childhood or adolescence. To acquire this certification, all standard requirements for dermatology must be met in addition to fellowship training and educational requirements.
Another type of dermatology, under which doctors are classified as procedural dermatologists, involves special training and practical experience with surgical procedures. This includes laser procedures, but is not to be confused with cosmetic surgery. A procedural dermatologist is qualified to surgically treat skin diseases and disorders.
Dermatology subspecialties may cross over as well. A dermatopathologist is a dermatologist specially trained in the pathology of the skin. This doctor may also be certified as a procedural dermatologist, which is logical as determining the pathology of a skin condition is relevant to any surgical procedure to treat it. There is no reason why dermatologists must limit themselves to only one subspecialty outside of the time and expense incurred in meeting all educational and practical requirements. Ultimately, the number of certifications a dermatologist chooses to obtain is a matter of professional development and is often based on what career path the doctor is planning to take.