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Pediatric Dermatology

A pediatric dermatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in pediatric dermatology, or the treatment of skin conditions for children, from birth through adolescence. Learn when it’s time to find a specialist.

Pediatric dermatologists diagnose and prescribe treatment for conditions that affect the skin, hair, nails or scalp. They may also provide surgical treatment for moles, warts, birthmarks and small cysts. These dermatologists also perform skin biopsies.

Skin conditions can be topical, hereditary, disease-related or cosmetic. If your child has a skin condition as a baby, you may find that you'll be choosing a long-term doctor for you child's care. These dermatologists are trained to treat children who need different treatment than adults. Children need patience. They can't always communicate clearly about what they're feeling, answer medical questions or even sit still for an exam. If your child needs medical care or surgery for a skin condition, these dermatologists have the skills, equipment and tools to work with smaller bodies. Their offices are geared toward making children feel comfortable. They often decorate with bright colors and provide toys, videos, games, crayons, paper and books to help kids feel at ease.

A physician with this specialty has completed at least four years of medical school in addition to a year's internship specializing in pediatrics, two years of residency in dermatology and a one to three year fellowship in their his or her field of pediatric dermatology.

Conditions these dermatologists treat

Pediatric dermatologists treat a variety of skin conditions, from diaper rash to disease related skin disorders. Some common conditions treated include rashes, fungal infections, congenital skin disorders, spider bites and lice.

Children's skin is delicate and requires different treatment than adult skin. Kids get into everything, which exposes their skin to both outside and inside toxins. These toxins may come from chemicals, foods, soap, metal, medications, plants, household products, pet products and other substances. Exposure to these substances can cause topical rashes, such as dermatitis.

The key to solving a skin condition is to find out what is causing it, eliminate the problem and treat the condition until it resolves. These dermatologists may offer allergy testing to discover the source of your child's problem. This type of testing may involve special diets and skin exposure testing to suspected allergens. Cosmetic issues — such as birthmarks, acne and scarring — also fall under the umbrella of this doctor's expertise. Having this type of dermatologist in your health care arsenal will put your mind at ease when your child comes home with an unknown skin condition.

Choosing a pediatric dermatologist

Your pediatrician is the best person to ask about a referral for a doctor who specializes in this type of dermatology. Contact your health insurance company to make sure that this medical specialty is covered. Depending on your policy, you may need a referral from your pediatrician in order for your policy to pay for treatment. Read through the listing of pediatric dermatologists in the provider directory available from your health insurance company. Ideally, you want to choose a doctor who has experience and the qualifications to treat your child's problem. Verify their qualifications, education, continuing education, accepted insurance plans and affiliated hospitals by consulting Angie's List, where you can also see member reviews and rankings.

When calling to schedule an appointment for the first time, always ask where the office is, what are the office hours, what insurances they accept, whether they can send you any forms to fill out ahead of time and if you need to bring anything with you for your first visit.

During your first visit, you should arrive early enough to fill out any required forms or hand in those that you already completed. Also bring any insurance cards and identification with you. Get a feel for the office and the staff. Are they friendly and easy to talk with or are they rushed and curt? Notice how long it takes before the doctor calls you in. Does the doctor listen to your concerns? Is he easy to talk to? Does he take the time to explain your child's condition and possible solutions? Also notice how your child relates to the doctor.

Knowing more about dermatology can help you choose the right doctor for you and your child's medical well-being.