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Difference Between Dermatologist & Allergist

Dermatologists and allergists both provide direct patient care; however, they treat different types of issues. This article will cover the job outlook, job duties, and educational responsibilities for each position.

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Comparing Dermatologists to Allergists

A dermatologist specializes in treating skin conditions, while an allergist specializes in treating conditions such as seasonal or food allergies. The key similarities and differences between these two patient-centered careers are highlighted below.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary (2017)* Job Growth (2014-2024)**
Allergist Doctoral Degree $238,154 (for all immunology/allergy physicians) 14% (for all physicians & surgeons)
Dermatologist Doctoral Degree $325,872 14% (for all physicians & surgeons)

Sources: *Salary.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Allergists vs. Dermatologists

Both of these professions involve assisting patients improve their health. Careers as either a dermatologist or an allergist require strong interpersonal skills and the desire to help others. A dermatologist may treat issues such as acne or skin cancer. In contrast, an allergist focuses on broader medical issues, such as lupus or other autoimmune disorders.

Dermatologist

As a dermatologist, you may have your own practice or serve as part of a group. Dermatologists conduct patient examinations to diagnose and treat skin disorders or issues. You will help patients with various chronic conditions, such as psoriasis, by creating treatment plans that may include topical ointments or antibiotics. Dermatologists also work with patients suffering from skin cancer by conducting biopsies and providing awareness on the importance of wearing sunscreen and performing skin self-examinations. After completing a doctoral degree, dermatologists must complete a residency in their chosen specialty. You must successfully pass the exam for your medical license and will have the option to complete board certification from the American Board of Dermatology.

Job responsibilities of a dermatologist include:

  • Administering procedures such as chemical peels to lessen the signs of sun damage or age spots
  • Examining patients to determine if they qualify for cosmetic surgery like liposuction
  • Providing guidance and mentoring to medical students
  • Identifying and providing treatment for pigmented lesions like congenital or Spitz nevi

Allergist

An allergist is a type of internal medicine specialist, with many in the field opening their own practice or becoming part of an existing one. Allergists primarily identify seasonal or food allergies through the use of skin prick or hypersensitivity tests to accurately diagnose conditions. You will also work with patients suffering from conditions like hay fever or asthma. Once a patient is diagnosed, allergists develop individualized treatment plans for patients to improve their quality of life. This career requires a doctoral degree and a residency in either internal medicine or pediatrics, or a combination of both. You will then need to complete a two-year program of additional training through an American Medical Association-certified program and become certified through the American Board of Allergy and Immunology.

Job responsibilities of an allergist include:

  • Conducting patient consultations to discuss their current issues and medical background
  • Recommending treatment medication such as antihistamines or prescription medication
  • Participating in continuing education to ensure you remain current on knowledge and trends in the field
  • Serving as an adviser to primary care providers or other medical professionals

Related Careers

If you would like to become a dermatologist, consider a job as an optometrist, as both careers specialize in treating a specific area of the body. Those interested in a position as an allergist might be interested in a job as a physician assistant, as both jobs involve providing direct patient care.

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