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Dermatologists are medical doctors who specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the hair, skin and nails.

They see patients, act as consultants to other specialists, and may be involved in teaching and clinical or other research. They must be familiar with other specialties because skin diseases are often associated with internal conditions.

Dermatologists perform skin surgery in many situations, for example, to provide early control over diseases such as skin cancer, to improve the skin’s appearance by removing growths, discolourations or damage caused by aging, sunlight or disease, or to establish a definite diagnosis by performing a biopsy. These delicate operations for medical or cosmetic purposes, involve the use of modern equipment such as laser machines, eg to treat varicose veins and wrinkles.

Common skin disorders include skin cancer, warts, fungal infections, eczema, acne, dermatitis and a disease called psoriasis.

This field of medicine is constantly changing and dermatologists must constantly keep abreast of new developments. New drugs may cause unusual side-effects, pesticides, industrial compounds and cosmetics often pose new dermatological problems.

Satisfying Aspects
- good working conditions
- high income
- prestige and status
- great work satisfaction in helping people to   overcome skin problems

Demanding aspects
- long and expensive training
- not being successful with treatment of unusual skin conditions
- working with difficult patients

A dermatologist should:
- have above average intellectual ability;
- have concern for the health and well-being of people;
- be empathetic, tactful and understanding;
- be responsible;
- be willing to study to keep up with medical advances;
- have good eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity;
- have good vision.

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Life Sciences

Competition to enter medical studies is stiff and there are usually plenty of applicants with excellent results that would naturally be given preference.

Degree: MBChB degree - UKZN, UCT, UFS, UL, UP, US, WSU, Wits.
- Theoretical training: 5 years.
- Student internship: 1 year.
- Practical work at a hospital: 1 year (also known as the house doctor year).

Postgraduate study for specialization as a dermatologist:
MMed or FCP(SA): 4 years - e.g. UCT, UFS, UL. Wits, UP.

Before commencing post-graduate study for specialization as a dermatologist the candidate must: have held a MBChB degree for 2 years and have been registered as a medical doctor with the Health Professions Council of South Africa for 1 year.
Special courses in Dermatology are available at UKZN, UFS, UP and US.

On successful completion of the examination to qualify as a specialist, candidates register with the IMDC as a Dermatologist.

- Private practice
- State hospitals
- Clinics
- self-employment - private practice

Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
P O Box 205
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 338 9300
Fax: (012) 328 5120