How to Become a Dermatology Nurse

What Does a Dermatology Nurse Do?

Nurses in dermatology provide patients with care and education concerning the treatment of wounds, injuries, diseases and conditions of the skin.

These nurses can screen for skin cancer, assist with dermatological surgery, teach, conduct research and perform such procedures as biopsies, mesotherapy, microdermabrasion and chemical peels.

The field of dermatology is incredibly vast, as skin is an organ, just like the heart or kidneys and the number of diseases and disorders are just as numerous as with other organs of the body. The majority of nurses in this field work for private doctor’s offices, usually with plastic surgeons or dermatologists.

Those that work in plastic surgery offices generally assist with surgical and nonsurgical procedures for cosmetic issues, congenital deformities or injuries. Another professional route to take would be to work for a hospital in the burn ward.

This would entail cleaning and dressing the wounds of burn patients, carefully monitoring and controlling pain, ensure patients breathing abilities and prohibiting the spread of infection.

How Can I Become a Dermatology Nurse?

Dermatology nurses are specialized healthcare professionals who work closely with dermatologists and other medical providers to diagnose, treat, and manage patients with various skin conditions, including acne, psoriasis, eczema, and skin cancer.

These nurses play a vital role in the assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation of dermatological care for their patients. With the increasing prevalence of skin-related issues and the growing demand for skincare treatments, pursuing a career as a dermatology nurse can be both rewarding and lucrative.

This article will discuss the qualifications and job duties of dermatology nurses, their salary and job outlook, steps to become one, benefits of being in this profession, typical places they work, and frequently asked questions about this specialized nursing field.

What Is a Dermatology Nurse?

A dermatology nurse is a registered nurse (RN) or nurse practitioner (NP) who specializes in the care of patients with skin disorders. They assist dermatologists in diagnosing and treating various skin conditions by performing assessments, administering treatments, providing patient education on skincare routines and preventive measures. Some key aspects of being a dermatology nurse include:

  • Specialized knowledge of skin conditions
  • Ability to perform skin assessments
  • Administering treatments such as medications or laser therapy
  • Patient education on skincare and prevention
  • Assisting with surgical procedures
  • Providing emotional support for patients dealing with chronic skin issues
  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive care

Qualifications and Job Duties

To become a dermatology nurse, one must first complete their nursing education through an accredited program and obtain their RN license. Additionally, some nurses may choose to further their education by becoming a dermatology nurse practitioner (DNP). This requires additional training in advanced practice nursing focused on dermatological care. Job duties for these specialized nurses may vary depending on their level of education and experience but generally include:

  1. Conducting patient assessments to identify skin issues
  2. Assisting with diagnostic tests such as skin biopsies
  3. Administering medications and treatments
  4. Providing patient education on skincare and prevention
  5. Assisting with surgical procedures related to dermatology
  6. Coordinating care with other healthcare professionals
  7. Monitoring and evaluating patient progress

For more information on qualifications and job duties, visit the Dermatology Nurses’ Association website.

Steps to Become a Dermatology Nurse

  1. Complete a nursing program (Associate’s Degree in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing)
  2. Pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse
  3. Gain experience working in a medical-surgical or dermatology setting
  4. Obtain certification in dermatology nursing through the Dermatology Nursing Certification Board
  5. Consider pursuing further education as a nurse practitioner specializing in dermatology
  6. Maintain licensure and certification through continuing education
  7. Network with other professionals in the field and stay up-to-date on industry advancements

Typical Classes and Ways to Prepare to Become a Dermatology Nurse

Courses that are commonly part of a nursing program with an emphasis on dermatology may include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology of the Skin
  • Principles of Dermatologic Nursing
  • Skin Disease Pathophysiology and Management
  • Wound Care Management
  • Cosmetic Dermatology Procedures

For more information on classes related to dermatology nursing, visit New York University Rory Meyers College of Nursing.

Benefits of Being a Dermatology Nurse

Some benefits of pursuing a career as a dermatology nurse include:

  1. Specialized knowledge in a growing field of healthcare
  2. Opportunities for professional growth and advancement
  3. Competitive salary and benefits
  4. Diverse work settings such as hospitals, private practices, and research institutions
  5. Opportunity to make a significant impact on patients’ lives
  6. High demand for skilled dermatology nurses
  7. Collaboration with other healthcare professionals

Typical Places a Dermatology Nurse Works

Dermatology nurses can work in various settings, including:

  1. Hospitals
  2. Outpatient clinics
  3. Private dermatology practices
  4. Academic and research institutions
  5. Cosmetic and aesthetic centers
  6. Telehealth services
  7. Home health care agencies

Salary and Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for registered nurses in 2020 was $75,330. Dermatology nurse practitioners can expect a higher salary due to their advanced education and specialized skill set, with an average annual salary of around $110,000. The BLS projects a 9% growth rate for registered nursing jobs from 2020 to 2030, indicating a positive job outlook for those interested in pursuing a career as a dermatology nurse.

Continuing Education and Professional Development for Dermatology Nurses

In order to maintain licensure and certification, dermatology nurses must participate in continuing education (CE) courses and professional development activities. This helps ensure that they stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in the field, as well as maintain their skills and knowledge. Some ways dermatology nurses can pursue continuing education include:

  1. Attending conferences and workshops focused on dermatology nursing
  2. Participating in webinars or online courses related to their specialty
  3. Reading professional journals and research articles
  4. Engaging in peer-to-peer learning and networking opportunities
  5. Joining professional organizations, such as the Dermatology Nurses’ Association, to access resources and support

The Role of Dermatology Nurses in Skin Cancer Prevention and Treatment

Skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer globally, making prevention, early detection, and treatment crucial aspects of dermatology nursing. Dermatology nurses play a vital role in skin cancer care by:

  1. Educating patients on sun safety practices and skin cancer risk factors
  2. Performing skin assessments to identify potential skin cancers
  3. Assisting with diagnostic procedures such as biopsies
  4. Providing support during treatment, which may include surgery, radiation therapy, or topical medications
  5. Coordinating follow-up care and monitoring for signs of recurrence

By focusing on these key aspects of skin cancer care, dermatology nurses contribute significantly to improving patient outcomes and reducing the burden of this prevalent disease.

The Impact of Telehealth on Dermatology Nursing

Telehealth is becoming an increasingly important aspect of healthcare delivery, including in the field of dermatology nursing. With advances in technology and an increased emphasis on remote patient care due to the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth services have expanded rapidly. Dermatology nurses can utilize telehealth platforms to:

  1. Conduct virtual consultations for patients with skin concerns
  2. Monitor treatment progress remotely
  3. Provide patient education and support via video conferencing or messaging
  4. Collaborate with other healthcare providers to coordinate care
  5. Facilitate access to dermatological care for patients in rural or underserved areas

Embracing telehealth technologies can help dermatology nurses provide high-quality, accessible care to their patients, regardless of geographical location.

Dermatology Certification for Nurses

Obtaining a dermatology certification is an important step for nurses who want to specialize in the field of dermatology. A certification demonstrates your expertise and commitment to providing high-quality care to patients with skin conditions. It can also enhance your credibility, marketability, and career advancement opportunities. In this section, we will discuss the types of certifications available for dermatology nurses, the eligibility criteria, and the process of obtaining a certification.

Types of Dermatology Certifications

There are two main certifications available for dermatology nurses:

  1. Certified Dermatology Nurse (CDN)**: This certification is designed for registered nurses (RNs) who have experience working in dermatology settings. It validates their knowledge and skills in providing specialized care to patients with skin conditions.
  2. Dermatology Certified Nurse Practitioner (DCNP)**: This certification is for nurse practitioners (NPs) who have completed advanced practice nursing education with a focus on dermatology. It demonstrates their expertise in diagnosing and treating skin conditions independently.

Both certifications are offered by the Dermatology Nursing Certification Board (DNCB).

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for the CDN or DCNP certification, candidates must meet specific requirements:

For CDN: 

  • Hold a current, unrestricted RN license
  •  Have at least 2 years of experience as an RN, with a minimum of 2,000 hours in dermatology nursing within the past 3 years


  • Hold a current, unrestricted NP license
  •  Have at least 3 years of experience as an NP, with a minimum of 3,000 hours in dermatology nursing within the past 3 years

In addition to these requirements, candidates must also complete continuing education (CE) courses relevant to dermatology nursing before applying for certification.

Certification Process

To obtain a dermatology certification, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure you meet the eligibility criteria for the desired certification (CDN or DCNP).
  2. Complete the required continuing education (CE) courses in dermatology nursing.
  3. Submit an application to the Dermatology Nursing Certification Board (DNCB), along with supporting documentation and fees.
  4. Schedule and take the certification exam, which is typically offered at various testing centers or online through remote proctoring.
  5. Upon passing the exam, you will receive your certification and can use the CDN or DCNP credential after your name.

Maintaining Certification

To maintain your dermatology certification, you must complete recertification every 3 years. This involves meeting continuing education requirements, submitting a recertification application, and paying a renewal fee. Staying up-to-date with CE courses and participating in professional development activities will help ensure your continued success as a certified dermatology nurse.

Obtaining a dermatology certification is a valuable investment for nurses who want to specialize in this growing field of healthcare. By demonstrating your expertise and commitment to providing high-quality care to patients with skin conditions, you can enhance your career prospects and make a significant impact on the lives of those you serve.

FAQ for Dermatology Nurses

  1. Do I need a specific certification to become a dermatology nurse? While not always required, obtaining certification through the Dermatology Nursing Certification Board can enhance your credibility and marketability in the field.
  2. What is the difference between a dermatology nurse and a dermatology nurse practitioner? A dermatology nurse practitioner has additional education and training in advanced practice nursing focused on dermatological care, allowing them to diagnose and treat skin conditions independently.
  3. Can I specialize in pediatric or geriatric dermatology nursing? Yes, some nurses may choose to focus on providing care for specific age groups within the field of dermatology.
  4. What are some common challenges faced by dermatology nurses? Some challenges include staying up-to-date on advancements in the field, managing patient emotions related to skin conditions, and working with diverse populations.
  5. How can I advance my career as a dermatology nurse? Pursuing further education as a nurse practitioner, obtaining certification in specialized areas, and networking with other professionals can all contribute to career growth in this field.

A career as a dermatology nurse offers numerous opportunities for professional growth and personal fulfillment. With specialized knowledge and skills in the assessment, treatment, and management of skin conditions, these nurses play a critical role in improving the lives of their patients. Pursuing continuing education, embracing telehealth services, and staying informed about advancements in the field are essential components of a successful career in dermatology nursing.

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