What Is a Pediatric Dermatologist?

Medically Reviewed by Nayana Ambardekar, MD on April 07, 2024
3 min read

Pediatric dermatologists are doctors who specialize in treating children’s skin, hair, and nails. They treat children of all ages, from infants to teenagers. They diagnose and treat a wide variety of ailments, from acne to skin cancer. Usually, if your child needs to see a pediatric dermatologist, their pediatrician will refer them.

Children can get skin issues or conditions that are different than adults. Your pediatrician will be able to spot them and know if your child needs to see a pediatric dermatologist.

Kids also emotionally experience health issues in a much different way than adults. Pediatric dermatologists train in putting children at ease in medical settings.

Pediatric dermatologists work in either clinics or hospitals. They diagnose and treat children who are experiencing issues with their skin, hair, and nails. They may do things like:

They may also prescribe medication and craft long-term treatment plans for chronic issues.

In order to become a pediatric dermatologist, a person must:

  • Graduate from medical or osteopathic medical school
  • Complete either three years of a dermatology residency 
  • Complete a one-year pediatric dermatology fellowship
  • Become certified in general dermatology by the American Board of Dermatology or the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology
  • Become certified in pediatric dermatology by the American Board of Dermatology or the American Osteopathic Board of Dermatology

It takes between seven and ten years to become a pediatric dermatologist. Rest assured your child will be seeing someone very educated and capable. 

If you think your child might have an issue with their skin, take them to see their pediatrician. If your child needs to see a pediatric dermatologist, the pediatrician will refer them.

Pediatric dermatologists treat the skin in its entirety. Any rash, irritation, burn, or other surface-level skin problem is within their practice, as well as issues related to hair and nails.

Specifically, some of the conditions pediatric dermatologists generally treat are:

  • Acne
  • Skin infections
  • Skin cancer
  • Vitiligo
  • Dermatitis
  • Eczema
  • Rashes
  • Scars
  • Alopecia
  • Warts
  • Allergic reactions
  • Keratosis
  • Mastocytosis
  • Hives
  • Birthmarks   
  • Psoriasis
  • Molluscum
  • Pilomatricoma

When you first take your child to a pediatric dermatologist, be sure to bring medical history and insurance documents. The pediatric dermatologist will need to have a good understanding of your child’s medical history before diagnosing any conditions or prescribing medication. 

The pediatric dermatologist will then do a physical exam. The exam itself will vary depending on what issues your child has. It could involve a blood or urine test, skin biopsy, or even just a series of questions. For this reason, it is best if your child wears loose-fitting, comfortable clothing.

After an examination, the pediatric dermatologist may prescribe a treatment, such as a cream, diet change, or growth removal. Depending on the treatment, you may need to schedule an additional appointment or procedure. 

Because a pediatric dermatologist specializes in children’s medicine, their offices and equipment are designed with children in mind. They will understand that children may have difficulty explaining their symptoms or understanding their health issues. A pediatric dermatologist should be able to speak to your child with respect and understanding.