What Is a Dermatology Nurse?

Dermatology nurses specialize in the treatment and care of a variety of skin diseases and conditions. Working in a wide range of settings, including hospitals, dermatology clinics and plastic surgeons' offices, dermatology nurses provide care for patients with psoriasis, skin cancer, burn wounds and acne among many other skin conditions. Dermatology nurses may also specialize in cosmetic dermatology, performing various procedures such as laser treatments and chemical peels.

Becoming a Dermatology Nurse

In order to become a dermatology nurse, students must first complete their Associate's Degree in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree and pass the NCLEX-RN exam. Registered nurses who want to specialize in dermatology may then work for a minimum of two years in dermatology before sitting for the Dermatology Nursing Certification Examination offered by the Dermatology Nurses' Association.

A typical job posting for a dermatology nurse position would likely include the following qualifications, among others specific to the type of institution and patient population:

  • ADN or BSN-level education, active RN license and Dermatology Nursing Certification preferred
  • Prior professional nursing experience in the dermatology and/or cosmetic/aesthetic dermatology fields
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills for working with patients, caregivers and medical teams on an ongoing basis
  • Attention to detail required in the performance of skin exams and recording of patient's medical histories and test results

To search and apply for current dermatology nurse positions, visit our job boards.

What Are the Education Requirements for Dermatology Nurses?

A position as a dermatology nurse requires an ADN or BSN degree in addition to an active RN license. Generally, an advanced degree is not required for dermatology nurses, but those interested in becoming a Dermatology Nurse Practitioner will need to complete a Master's of Science in Nursing degree. In addition to an active RN license, dermatology nurses may choose to attain the Dermatology Nursing Certification offered by the Dermatology Nurses' Association.

Are Any Certifications or Credentials Needed?

Some dermatology nursing positions require RNs to hold the Dermatology Nursing Certification offered by the Dermatology Nurses' Association. While optional for many job openings, RNs who hold this certification will certainly have a competitive edge when applying for dermatology nursing positions. In order to sit for this exam, RNs must have an active RN license, two years nursing experience and 2,000 hours working the dermatology field.

Where Do Dermatology Nurses Work?

There are a number of settings in which dermatology nurses work, including:

  • burn units within hospitals
  • private clinics
  • dermatology practices
  • plastic surgeons' offices

What Does a Dermatology Nurse Do?

Dermatology nurses assist in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of skin injuries and conditions, including burns, skin cancer, psoriasis, rosacea, warts, acne and impetigo among others. Dermatology nurses assist in the performance of skin exams, assess a patient's condition and record patients' medical history and test results. Often, dermatology nurses provide pre-operative and post-operative care for patients who have undergone various treatments and surgical procedures. Patient and caregiver education is also an important aspect of the dermatology nurse's job description. Dermatology nurses educate patients and their caregivers on how to care for skin conditions and recover from treatments once the patient has returned home. Dermatology nurses may also specialize in cosmetic procedures, such as laser treatments, chemical peels and microdermabrasion.

What Are the Roles and Duties of a Dermatology Nurse?

  • Assist in the performance of skin exams, and monitor and record a patient's medical history and test results
  • Provide pre- and post-operative care for patients undergoing treatment for a variety of skin conditions and diseases
  • Perform various cosmetic dermatology procedures, such as chemical peels
  • Assess, monitor and treat skin wounds, including burns
  • Educate patients on how to protect their skin and how to care for skin diseases and conditions at home

Dermatology Nurse FAQs

In most states, RNs may administer treatments or procedures utilizing laser light. Laser, light and energy-emitting devices (LLED) is a growing field as more institutions and private physician offices are offering elective LLED services to patients.

Lasers are used in dermatology and other areas of medical practice to remove hair or superficial layers of skin. The Dermatology Nurse’s Association (DNA) position paper for laser therapy states that nurses who provide laser therapies to patients must have documentation of appropriate competency and credentialing. The DNA recommends nurses seek education from validated sources such as professional organizations (including the DNA), physician organizations, or laser manufacturers.

Most states regulate the use of lasers by non-physician providers through the Board of Nursing, the State Electrolysis Board, the Department of State Health and Human Services, or a radiation regulatory agency. Although states will vary on how much regulation occurs, all states require written documentation of training and competency.

The National Laser Institute offers courses to provide the nurse a certificate of education and continuing education units. Other organizations, such as the National Council on Laser Certification, offers proctored exams to certify nurses and other professionals in laser light therapies. Certification exams include Certified Aesthetic Laser Operator, Certified Hair Removal Specialist, Certified Laser Hair Removal Supervisor, Certified Medical Laser Safety Officer, and Certified Laser Repair Technician.

Dermatology nurses can obtain specialized training in different areas of the field. The following include some of the advanced training dermatology nurses can pursue.

Dermatology nurses can perform a wide variety of procedures. They can be trained to perform cryotherapy, light therapy, and assist with biopsies.

Nurses may benefit from advanced training in treating specific skin injuries. For example, burns, wounds, lacerations, etc. Some of these injuries require highly specialized treatment. They must also educate patients on the healing process.

A significant part of the dermatology nurse’s role is to be able to examine and screen patients for skin cancer or suspicious skin lesions. Because of this role, dermatology nurses should have advanced training in the recognition and treatment of potentially cancerous or pre-cancerous lesions. Additionally, they can also be trained to assist with biopsies and excisions.

Dermatology nurses can become trained in cosmetic procedures such as laser treatments, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion, and Botox injections. Since some of these procedures are invasive, formal training may be required.

There are many organizations available for nurses who wish to obtain advanced training in dermatology. Examples include:

Dermatology Nurse Salary & Employment

Dermatology nurses can expect a median salary of around $52,035. Geographical location, career length and experience level are all factors that may impact a dermatology nurse's salary.

The dermatology field is a very large one, with a range of patient populations and a variety of conditions to treat, which creates a wealth of potential job opportunities for dermatology nurses. Additionally, an increase in skin cancer in the United States as well as advancements in cosmetic dermatology has resulted in a very positive career outlook for nurses interested in pursuing dermatology.

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