A dermatologist is a medical doctor who specializes in treating the medical, surgical, and cosmetic conditions of the skin, hair, and nails. After earning a medical degree and completing an internship, a dermatologist receives three more years of specialty medical training. Some continue their training in a subspecialty such as pediatrics, surgery, or cosmetics.

Dermatologists will be able to diagnose skin cancer and recommend an appropriate treatment strategy for a child, teen, or adult with the skin condition. Treatment will most likely include a biopsy or in some cases, surgery.

Primary Care Physician

An internist or family practice physician is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and medical treatment of adults. A minimum of seven years of medical school and postgraduate training are dedicated to learning about the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases that impact adults. Internists can also continue their study in a subspecialty such as allergy and immunology.

In addition to earning their medical degree, family practice physicians do a three-year family medicine residency and can treat the entire family, diagnosing and treating illnesses as well as providing preventive care such as routine checkups, screenings, and immunization. An internist or family practice physician can evaluate an old or new suspicious-looking mole, freckle, or spot and can refer you to the appropriate specialist—namely, a dermatologist—for further evaluation or treatment.