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Dermatologist Tools

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Dermatology is a medical science dealing with the treatment of the skin and its diseases. Dermatologists treat skin problems as simple as a bad case of acne or as complicated as skin cancer. They are even tasked with removing a poorly chosen tattoo. To perform this work, dermatologists use a variety of tools and instruments.

Dermal Tools

These are the primary tools a dermatologist uses to care for skin. These include instruments such as scalpels, blackhead extractors, dermal curettes and dermal biopsy punches. A scalpel is a small, sharp blade used for surgery. Dermatologists mainly use scalpels in conjunction with cryosurgery. Dermatologists freeze a skin blemish, such as a mole, using a form of cryosurgery, and then slice off the blemish with a scalpel. Blackhead extractors are also called comedone extractors, and there are three types of these extractors: spoon, loop and lancet extractors. Spoon and loop extractors remove immature blackheads while lancet extractors pierce and remove mature whiteheads. Some tools have a spoon or loop extractor on one end with a lancet extractor on the other, combining two tools in one. Dermatologists use dermal curettes to scrape the skin and remove moles or warts. A dermatologist uses a dermal punch biopsy when a sample of skin is needed to test for a serious skin disease.

Nail Care

Aside from dealing with skin conditions, dermatologists also care for nail conditions. Dermatologists have a set of tools used specifically for nail care such as nail drills, nail nippers, nail scissors, nail files and ring cutters. Nail drills are mainly used to shape nails. Technicians in salons use them frequently. Dermatologists use them for this purpose as well, but they also have a nail drill tip they use to relieve blood built up under the nail. Nail nippers and nail scissors have the same purpose. Dermatologists simply use them to trim the nail down. Nail nippers come in two types -- pliers and compound lever. Nail nippers are mainly for nail trimming while nail scissors are apt at trimming the nails and cuticles. Like a nail drill, nail files are used to grind down and shape the nails. A ring cutter is used when someone cannot remove a ring from a finger or toe. Ring cutters are motorized, but are also designed in a way that keeps the appendage safe.


Dermabrasion is a surgical procedure performed by dermatologists to remove tattoos, scars, moles and wrinkles. Dermabrasion wears away the top layers of skin, resulting in healthy, smooth skin once healed. Dermatologists have a couple choices of tools to perform dermabrasion: mechanical or laser dermabrasion. In mechanical dermabrasion, a spinning wheel with a course surface is gently applied to the skin, wearing away the top layer. The process is essentially the same with laser dermabrasion, only a laser is used instead of a rotating wheel. Mechanical dermabrasion is still the most popular choice because it’s significantly cheaper than laser treatment.


Cryosurgery, also sometimes called cryotherapy, is the use of severe cold to treat skin blemishes and diseases, such as warts, skin tags, moles and skin cancers. The main tool dermatologists use for cryosurgery is a cryogun, which is a spray device attached to a canister containing a cold chemical like liquid nitrogen, carbon dioxide (CO2), argon or a mix of dimetyl ether and propane. Even though the cryogun is the main tool for cryosurgery, other tools exist for special circumstances, such as a probe for conditions related to the prostate. Sometimes needles are also used for cryosurgery if a gun is not the best instrument for the job.


Rick Radcliff became a full-time freelance writer in 2010. He has also ghostwritten for private clients, specializing in health and technology. Radcliff is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in English from Pennsylvania State University.