What is special about dermatology

The skin is not a simple inert covering of the body but a sensitive dynamic boundary and is an important organ of social and sexual contact. Body image, which is deeply rooted within the culture of any given social group, is profoundly affected by the appearance of the skin and its associated structures.12 The role that skin appearance plays in any given society is best understood from an anthropological perspective and using a narrative qualitative approach. This area is rather neglected in dermatological curricula.

Extensive disorders affecting the skin may disrupt its homeostatic functions, ultimately resulting in "skin failure", needing intensive care. This is rare but may happen, for example with extensive bullous disorders or exfoliative dermatitis. The most frequent health consequences of skin disorders are connected with the discomfort of symptoms such as itching and burning or pain, which frequently accompany skin lesions and interfere with everyday life and sleep, and the loss of confidence and disruption of social relations that visible lesions may cause. Feelings of stigmatisation, and major changes in lifestyle caused by chronic skin disorders such as psoriasis or leg ulcers have been repeatedly documented in population surveys.13,14

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