Dermatology Nursing

Dermatology nursing is a specialty where nurses focus on conditions of the skin. A dermatology nurse ensures patients are able to help patients with wound treatment, skin injuries, and other skin disorders. These dermatology issues include conditions like acne, eczema, rashes, skin cancer, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, hair loss, and skin infections.  Dermatology nurses are familiar with topical medications, skin cancer surgery, and plastic surgery treatments.  The skin is the largest organ and dermatology nurses have an important role in protecting that organ.  Dermatology nurses assist and educate patients with dermatology ailments.  They provide support to healthcare providers for procedures based in the office, the outpatient setting, and inpatient facilities.  Dermatology nurses provide outstanding patient support, nursing care, and comprehensive education.

Dermatology nurses work in a wide variety of settings including hospital units, offices, and outpatient care clinics.  These settings include burn units, private dermatology practice, dermatology outpatient clinics, and plastic surgeon's offices. Dermatology nurses care for a varied range of patient ages and care for men women and children.  Hence, dermatology nurses must be familiar with a considerable range of knowledge regarding dermatology conditions, medications, and procedures.  Dermatology nurses work variable shifts depending on where they work.   For example, office and outpatient nurses usually work during the day, but nurses in hospital inpatient burn units have the ability to work day, evening, or night shift. They may be required to work weekends and holidays, but will generally receive a higher salary.

A dermatology nurse is an expert in skin conditions and caring for patients experiencing dermatology issues.  The dermatology nurse works closely with the patient, their family, and the dermatology team to ensure clear client education, a smooth recovery, and minimal complications.  The dermatology nurse deals with a wide range of procedures from cosmetic to skin cancer.  These nurses also spend time educating their patients about serious acne medications, skin cancer prevention, and care for the burn patient.

Dermatology nurses educate patients and their family regarding how to care for their specific skin conditions when they arrive home.  They also promote healing of specific skin infections or wounds.  Dermatology nurses are knowledgeable about all skin conditions and are able to counsel patients on the risks and complications of dermatology treatment. Dermatology nurses assist dermatologists with the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions like skin cancer, psoriasis, rosacea, warts, acne, impetigo, and burns.  Dermatology nurses are proficient in performing skin exams, evaluating a patient’s condition, and recording a patient’s medical history and laboratory results.  Dermatology nurses attend to outpatient and inpatient surgical procedures, as well as care for patients preoperatively and postoperatively.  Dermatology nurses carefully educate patients and their family members on what to expect and how to care for the particular skin condition.  Some dermatology nurses even perform laser treatments, chemical peels, and microderm abrasions.  Dermatology nurses must be experienced, intelligent, and insightful.

Education Requirements

You must first obtain a nursing degree from an accredited nursing program to become a dermatology nurse. Often, dermatology nurses are Registered Nurses, but you can work as a dermatology nurse as a Licensed Practical Nurse or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN) as well. LPNs go to school for one to two years to become a nurse.  A Registered Nurse can attend an Associate Degree program (two years) or pursues a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (four years).  After graduating with a nursing degree, you must take the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed as a nurse.  The last step is to apply to the Board of Nursing in your state to become an RN, LPN or LVN.  Once school is over, continuing education and facility-specific training will keep your dermatology nursing education fresh.

Certification

When dermatology nurses choose to pursue certification, it displays their specialized knowledge and experience in their specialty. Dermatology nurses must have the appropriate experience before they can take the Dermatology Nurse Certification (DNC) Examination, which is offered through the Dermatology Nurse Certification Board.

When a nurse is a DNC, they have an expert level of dermatology competence and skill.

To take the DNC exam, you must have:

  • Graduated from an accredited nursing education program,
  • A current Registered Nurse license,
  • Two years experience as a Registered Nurse,
  • A minimum of 2000 clinical practice hours in dermatology nursing practice (general dermatology nursing staff, administration, teaching or research).

The exam is a multiple-choice examination that covers a wide variety of dermatology nursing topics.  Dermatology nurse certification is valid for three years.


Job Description & Duties

Your actual responsibilities as a dermatology nurse depends on your facility, your patient population, and where you live.

A dermatology nurse basic duties include:

  • Perform a physical assessment on each patient, paying special attention to the skin.
  • Assist the physician in the performance of skin exams, monitor and record a patient's medical history, and be aware of relevant test results.
  • Assist the dermatologist with outpatient and surgical dermatology procedures.
  • Provide pre- and post-operative care for clients who are undergoing treatment for a variety of skin conditions and diseases.
  • Assist with procedures using specialized medical equipment, including cosmetic dermatology
  • Assess, monitor, and treat skin wounds, mainly burns.  
  • Perform wound care and be familiar with many types of dressings, topical medications, and would care routines.
  • Be familiar with how to treat acne, specific acne medications and their risks, and alternative topical medications.
  • Educate each patient on how to protect their skin and care for skin diseases and conditions at home.

Job Outlook and Salary

The average salary for a dermatology Registered Nurse is $52,035 annually.  Salaries for dermatology nurses will vary related to your type of nursing licensure (LPN, ADN or BSN), your job description, your nursing experience, and your geographical location.  As predicted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the career outlook for Registered Nurses is an increase of 19% in the next decade.  The need for dermatology nurses is growing by leaps and bounds as acne, skin cancer screening and treatment, and other skin conditions escalate in incidence.

References and Further Reading

Dermatology Nursing Certification Board https://www.dnanurse.org/dnaeducation/certification

Dermatology Nurses Association
https://www.dnanurse.org