Diagnosis: Clinical / Dermatoscopy / Skin Biopsies
There are literally hundreds of unique skin ailments treated by dermatologists. An initial consultation can shed light on the underlying cause of disease and assist in planning appropriate treatments. Your dermatologist is fully qualified to perform a variety of tests for identification of ailments, along with surgical procedures to remove unwanted growths. Your skin is the body’s first defence against disease, and dermatologists are trained in treating and healing every skin condition for both medical and cosmetic purposes.
The great majority of skin problems are treatable and curable. For this reason, dermatologists are among the most effective medical professionals in the fight against disease. Almost all skin problems treated in private clinics and public hospitals can also be treated at dermatology clinics such as Pymble Dermatology – under the care of highly trained skin specialists. Diagnosis includes clinical appraisal, visual inspection and a skin sample biopsy for further analysis if required. Dermatology aims to ensure your skin remains capable of fighting off disease or infection.
Most people naturally consult with their regular physician when troubled by an ailment. This approach is suitable for skin conditions that are familiar and easily treatable, although a dermatologist should be consulted for more serious or aggressive skin problems. Primary care doctors will refer you to a dermatologist if the condition is resistant to treatment. In cases where a rash spreads quickly or causes swelling, pain, fever, sleep problems or other aggravating symptoms an appointment with your dermatologist should be made as soon as possible.
Any unexpected and unwanted skin conditions should be taken seriously as they could be symptomatic of a systemic disease as skin is a window to internal medical conditions or malignancies. Even innocuous ulcers or sores can be the harbinger of serious infection if action isn’t taken to heal the wound site. As our external skin health is indicative of internal functions, problems such as skin inflammation can reveal organ inflammation affecting other areas of the body. In every case, dermatologists have a lot to offer.
In many cases, a dermatology consultation will speed up diagnosis and treatment. Fast action by a dermatology professional in a dedicated clinical environment is the surest way of avoiding aggressive ailments such as skin cancer or organ damage. Mild symptoms can turn into worrisome situations fairly quickly in some circumstances, so the availability of dermatology expertise shouldn’t be overlooked.
A fast diagnosis also helps patients avoid unnecessary scarring caused by skin disease. Dermatologists fully understand the appropriate level of medication and treatment for every skin condition, and are able to suggest alternative procedures in cases where medications are contra-indicated. The balance required to achieve minimal scarring is an important aspect of dermatology that could otherwise be overlooked, and as always, early diagnosis is rewarded by greater recovery potential.
Dermatology often involves the analysis of very small skin blemishes or lesions. Dermatoscopy utilises a skin surface microscope to evaluate the skin’s condition. Dermatoscopy is extremely valuable for diagnosing skin cancers, both malignant and benign, even when the growth is extremely small, providing the greatest opportunity for complete cancer removal. A dermatoscope is lightweight and easily manoeuvrable, allowing your dermatologist the flexibility to perform a full-body skin examination during your appointment.
Apart from the microscope, a dermatoscope contains a powerful light system for easily analysing skin structure, patterns and growths. Skin lesions often grow and evolve into a different shape, colour or pattern which can be identified and compared to previous images of the same patch of skin.
Dermoscopy is useful in evaluating skin tumours and pigmented lesions, but its applicability extends also to the field of inflammatory skin disorders and infections.
Skin condition is also diagnosed by taking a skin biopsy. A skin biopsy involves removal of a small sample of skin to be analysed in a medical laboratory. The sample assists the doctor in ruling out unassociated diseases or skin conditions. There are several types of biopsies your dermatologist can perform.
- Shave biopsy – removal of a sliver of skin or lesion using a razor-sharp medical blade.
- Punch biopsy – removal of a small circular plug of skin at deeper levels.
- Excisional biopsy – removal of a larger lump of abnormal skin and possibly surrounding skin.
A biopsy will determine the exact type of skin cancer, disease or infection being experienced and is important after removal of cancer to ascertain if surrounding skin is healthy or prone to further deterioration. Dermatology has become a specialist medical science that saves lives in extreme situations. It is equally important for improving quality of life in patients suffering conditions that require fast and effective alleviation.