Dermatology is the study of skin and its diseases.

Skin is not just a covering for the body but is important in keeping our body temperature correct, keeping the right balance of salts and water in the body, acting as a visual signal and protecting us from harmful chemicals and micro-organisms.

When things go wrong with the skin, primary care physicians (GPs) are skilled in diagnosing and treating the commoner conditions.

Dermatologists are specialist doctors who have had years of extra training to diagnose and treat the more severe and uncommon conditions.

All clinics are held in the Quantock outpatient department on the ground floor.

Appointments are given only on receipt of a referral from a GP or other doctor.

There may occasionally be medical students or doctors doing further Dermatology training in the clinics.

Diagnosis & Treatments

The Dermatologists are able to diagnose and treat a wide range of skin diseases. Once the diagnosis has been made, the treatment may be advice, creams, lotions or ointments. Other conditions may be treated by cryotherapy, surgery, tablets or phototherapy (controlled amounts of ultraviolet light of specific wavelengths – different from sunbeds!). Sometimes there may be a combination of treatments and different forms of treatment at different times

There are close links to the Bristol Dermatology Centre in Bristol Royal Infirmary and some specialized tests and treatments might be carried out there. See also UK patient support groups.

If I have tests how will I get the results?

You will often have a follow-up appointment to discuss the results of tests. Sometimes the doctor will write to you with a plan for treatment. Your GP will normally also be able to access the results of most tests.

Skin Surgery

The Dermatologists in Weston undertake a hundreds of surgical procedures for skin malignancies each year. There is a well-equipped operating room in the outpatient department. For the most part these operations are performed during designated surgical sessions under local anaesthetic and patients may go home straight after the procedure. It is rarely possible to do surgery on the first visit although this is done occasionally. Skin biopsy (taking a small sample of skin for testing) is performed in some cases to help make the diagnosis.

We do not remove harmless (benign) cysts, moles and warts except in exceptional circumstances.

How can I best care for my skin?

Normal skin needs little care. Washing should be done with a gentle soap and water that is neither too hot nor too cold. Skin prone to dryness can be washed with a moisturizing cream such as Aqueous cream which can be bought without prescription. There are many other suitable moisturizing creams. Moisurizers should be applied twice a day to skin which is prone to dryness and more often if very dry. Most healthy young skins do not need moisturizer except after over-exposure to the sun, wind or water. Older skins need moisturizing often (twice a day or more) using any moisturizer which suits. You should also avoid over-exposure to the sun.

Sunshine and the Skin

There is a large amount of evidence that sunburn plays a part in development of serious skin cancers. Exposure to the sun throughout life even if not causing sunburn is believed to be important in development of most skin cancers and other damage such as wrinkles, discolouration and warty changes. Therefore, dermatolgists recommend protection from the sunlight and agree that sunbeds are not a good idea..

If you are worried about changes in your skin being due to skin cancer see you GP who will be able to help decide if you need to come to the dermatology clinic. Your GP can arrange an appointment for you.

Where can I get more information about my Skin Condition?

There are many good sources of information about skin problems including your GP, treatment room nurse and if appropriate your dermatologist. The British Association of Dermatologists has many good information sheets about common and not-so common conditions.

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