What is Dermatopathology?

What is Dermatopathology?

Dermatopathology is the diagnosis and study of diseases (pathology) which affect the dermis, or skin.

A Dermatopathologist is a pathologist that specializes in skin, hair, and nail disorders; Dermatopathologists examine skin biopsies under a microscope in order to diagnose diseases.

Dermatologists (doctors specializing in skin, hair, and nails) often work closely with Dermatopathologists in order to accurately diagnose diseases, including skin cancers.

Dermatologists are often able to diagnose skin diseases with the naked eye based on their behavior and appearances. However, in some cases a Dermatologist cannot make a conclusive diagnosis with the naked eye—to get a conclusive diagnosis for these cases, a skin biopsy must be taken, processed, and then given to a Dermatopathologist for microscopic examination. Even after looking at the case underneath the microscope, the Dermatopathologist may need to run additional testing. Dermatopathologists have the specialized knowledge needed to do further studies on skin biopsies in order to be reach a conclusive diagnosis.

In order to become a Dermatopathologist in the United States, one must first complete a medical degree. This degree is then followed by 3-4 years of residency training in Pathology and another 1-2 years of fellowship training in dermatopathology.