History of Dermatology
English Apothecary Set – mid 1800s.
Skin diseases, very common and easy for both the patient and physician to see, were treated with a variety of concoctions. Physicians mixed or compounded their own medications for treating everything from rashes to wounds.
Dermatologic Surgeons played a key role in the history of scientific and technological discoveries made in skin care and repair during the 19th and 20th centuries. Exciting new breakthroughs continue into the 21st century with innovations in skin cancer treatment and cosmetic procedures.
Treating the skin with chemicals dates back to the ancient Egyptians who used arsenic on the skin to kill cancer. They also used animal oils, salt, alabaster, and sour milk to improve the appearance of skin. Cleopatra was reputed to take milk baths, enjoying the cosmetic benefits of lactic acid, the first alpha-hydroxy acid, for softer, smoother skin.
The Greeks and Romans used mixtures of pumice, frankincense, myrrh, and tree resins to lighten the skin, remove freckles, and smooth wrinkles. Turkish treatments used fire to lightly singe the skin for exfoliation. And, in India, women sought soft, smooth skin from a mixture of urine and pumice applied to their faces.
American Surgical Set – mid-1800s.
Most physicians, who were trained in medical and surgical procedures, carried a comprehensive surgical kit with a variety of instruments, allowing doctors to perform everything from draining abscesses to amputation. Most surgical kits made before 1900 and the subsequent discovery of necessary antiseptics had handles made of wood, bone or ivory.
Early dermatology was associated with urology, and later, in the early 1900s, was involved with the treatment of syphilis and venereal diseases.
In the late 1800s, dermatologists began using a variety of chemicals to smooth facial wrinkles and scarring. Phenol peels began to be used to treat acne scarring in the early 1900s. By the 1950s and 1960s, trichloracetic acid peels were popular, followed by the introduction of dermabrasion in the 1970s and 1980s, and the use of alpha-hydroxy acids with other chemicals in combination peeling in the 1990s.
As early as 1500 BC, Egyptian physicians were experimenting with using sandpaper to smooth scars. By the 1900s, dermatologists began using sandpaper as well as motorized dermabrasion for skin rejuvenation. In 1995, microdermabrasion for mild exfoliation and resurfacing was introduced in a popular, light "polishing" facial peel.
Medical Bag and Microscopes – mid-1800s
Cryosurgery to remove skin lesions began in 1899, with electrosurgery coming into use in 1909. Discoveries in hair transplantation and liposculpture were made in the early part of the century by dermatologists, with improvements and enhancements continuing today.
Light has played an important role in the treatment of skin disease. Ancient Egyptians used natural sunlight for treating certain skin disorders. Sunlight was also used by many European physicians in the 18th and 19th centuries to treat psoriasis and eczema. Soon after the development of the laser in the 1950s, dermatologists began utilizing lasers to treat skin conditions. Dozens of laser applications were pioneered in the 1980s and 1990s for pigmented lesions, cosmetic resurfacing, and laser hair removal.
New breakthroughs in research continues with lasers for skin tightening, stretch marks, laser hair transplantation, scar revision and other rejuvenation procedures.
The practice of dermatology and dermatologic surgery continues to be one of the fastest growing specialties with incredible breakthroughs in skin care and repair. The physicians of The Center for Dermatology Care are continuing the advancement of rejuvenation technology with state-of-the-art medical expertise and state-of-the-heart patient care.