Allergist vs. Dermatologist

Springtime triggers seasonal allergy and asthma symptoms for 1 out of every 5 Americans -- that's 60 million people.
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Allergists and dermatologists diagnose, treat and manage a myriad of diseases and immunological disorders. Allergists treat conditions and diseases ranging from spring allergy symptoms to food allergies and other immune system disease. Dermatologists treat over 3,000 diseases, from acne to skin cancer, and perform minor surgery. Both physician specializations require medical school, internships, residencies and often fellowships before work in private practice and research, although they may be affiliated with a hospital network.

What Allergists Do

    The human body eats, breathes and touches allergens every day. When the body reacts negatively to these foreign proteins, reactions can mimic simple cold symptoms or become severe enough to be life-threatening. Allergists assess your symptoms and work with you to provide treatment and management plans designed to alleviate symptoms. This may include allergy shots for seasonal allergies. For those tested to have food allergies, detailed emergency action plans that include what to do for hives and anaphylaxis are included. Allergists often work with patients who have asthma, which can complicate symptoms, creating higher risk of life-threatening situations.

What Dermatologists Do

    Dermatologists examine skin, hair, nails and mucous membranes for abnormalities such as misshapen moles, eczema, infections and psoriasis that may be painful or symptoms of other conditions. They remove suspicious growths and tissue for biopsy and use cryotherapy to freeze and remove warts and skin tags. They also provide cosmetic services such as Botox treatments to reduce signs of aging or lessen acne scarring, and perform minor surgery after skin cancer to create a normal appearance to the skin. There are many sub-specialties of dermatology, including cosmetic, pathology and pediatrics.

Commonalities of Both Specializations

    Both allergists and dermatologists treat patients of all ages. Both must become either medical doctors (M.D.s) or doctors of osteopathy (D.O.s) before their internships before specializing in their residency programs. Some follow up their residencies with fellowships to further participate in education and research in an area of special interest. Allergists and dermatologists must continually keep up with advances in their specialties. Board-certified dermatologists retake exams every 10 years. Allergists are certified by the American Board of Allergy & Immunology.

Allergist and Dermatologist Salaries

    Salaries average between $200,000 to $400,000, depending on practice and location, for both allergists and dermatologists, according to the most recent American Medical Group Association Survey statistics. Dermatologists tend to make higher salaries than allergists. The majority of allergists and dermatologists work 40-hour weeks, and entrance into programs is very competitive.

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