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Southern DHB Dermatology Services

Public Service, Dermatology


Welcome to Dermatology at Southern DHB

What is Dermatology?
Dermatology is the branch of medicine concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the skin, hair and nails.

The skin is the largest and most visible organ of the body. It reflects the health of the body and acts as a barrier against injury and bacteria. Unfortunately, at one time or another, nearly everyone has some type of skin disease - infants, children, teenagers, adults and the elderly.

What is a Dermatologist?
A dermatologist is a medical doctor who has specialised in dermatology. Advanced training in dermatology involves at least four years of intensive study, research and practical experience in a variety of approved training centres across New Zealand and overseas. In total, your dermatologist will have a minimum of 13 years' training.

Dermatology at Southland and Dunedin Hospitals
Dermatology services are provided via outpatient clinics or by one of our consulting physicians through telemedicine.

Sun Smart
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in New Zealand. Skin cancer is largely preventable.  Over 90% of all skin cancer is attributed to excess sun exposure.  All New Zealanders are encouraged to be SunSmart and to “Slip, slop, slap and wrap”.

For more information about SunSmart or sun protection visit: https://otago-southland.cancernz.org.nz/ 

Additional Information
These websites offers a wealth of information about skin diseases, treatments, the latest news, and much more.

DermNet NZ: www.dermnetnz.org  

New Zealand Dermatological Society Incorporated: https://www.nzdsi.org/index.aspx

Referral Expectations

A dermatologist and a GP can, in some cases, diagnose skin conditions just by looking at them.  The shape, size, colour and location are all assessed, as well as any other symptoms.  At times a biopsy has to be taken so that a diagnosis can be made. A biopsy is the removal of a small piece of the skin/lesion for examination under a microscope.  Minor surgery may be needed to perform this biopsy. In some cases the whole lesion will be removed and examined. 
Another way a dermatologist can examine a skin disorder is by scraping some of the top layer of skin from the lesion/affected area.  This is called a skin scraping.  This scraping is also sent to the laboratory for examination.

Common Conditions

  • Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease

    This is a mild viral illness that mostly affects children.  The symptoms are: sudden development of a high temperature; a sore throat and small blisters on the mouth, palms of hands and soles of feet.… More

  • Scabies

    Scabies is a very common skin infection that is caused by a mite that burrows under the top layer of skin and lays its eggs.  The eggs hatch in a few days.  The skin then becomes very itchy and a red, raised rash may appear.  Itching is worse at night… More

  • Acne

    Acne is a skin disorder that is characterised by pimples, blackheads, whiteheads, and, in bad cases, cysts (deeper lumps).  Acne usually starts at puberty and is in response to our body’s production of hormones, called androgens.… More

  • Fungal Skin Infections

    Bacteria and a number of types of fungi live on the surface of the skin.… More

  • Bacterial Skin Infections

    Our skin is our body’s first defence mechanism and even though many types of bacteria live on its surface, we still need a healthy, intact skin surface to maintain its defence.… More

  • Eczema

    There are several different types of eczema but all have a number of common symptoms, the main feature being red, inflamed, itchy skin.  The skin can be covered with small, fluid-filled blisters that might ooze and form a scale or crust.… More

  • Psoriasis

    Psoriasis is a common, recurring (keeps coming back) skin condition that is hard to treat.… More

  • Shingles

    Shingles is caused by a virus called herpes zoster, this is the same virus that causes chickenpox.  After the virus has caused chicken pox it remains dormant (inactive) in the nerve cells, but can then be reactivated in later life to cause shingles.  It is not known why the virus… More

  • Warts

    There are three main types of wart infections that occur on our body: common warts, plantar warts and venereal warts (genital warts).… More

  • Skin Cancer

    New Zealand has a very high rate of skin cancer, when compared to other countries.… More

Contact Details

This page was last updated at 9:53AM on March 15, 2021. This information is reviewed and edited by Southern DHB Dermatology Services.