Clinical indications in dermatology refer to the conditions or situations prompting a specific treatment or procedure, ranging from acne to melanoma. Causal factors driving these indications are both clinical and non-clinical. Clinical factors include aspects like the type of skin condition, age, gender, comorbidities, and prior treatment responses. Non-clinical factors encompass environmental, lifestyle, socioeconomic, and psychological elements, such as sun exposure, allergen exposure, stress, hygiene practices, and healthcare access. Understanding these factors is key in a dermatologist’s assessment and treatment planning.



A clinical indication in medicine is a condition or situation that makes a particular treatment or procedure advisable. Clinical indications are often the symptomatic reason why a patient seeks out medical attention, or the asymptomatic findings that a physician identifies during a patient’s examination.

In the context of dermatology, clinical indications can range from benign conditions like acne, dermatitis, and psoriasis, to more serious diseases like melanoma or systemic lupus erythematosus. Each disease or condition presents a unique set of symptoms and findings that lead to its diagnosis, and the decision to treat is often based on these clinical indications.

Causal factors for clinical indications can be both clinical and non-clinical:

Clinical factors

These are directly related to the patient’s medical condition and health status. For example, in dermatology, a clinical factor could be the severity and type of skin condition, the patient’s age, gender, or the presence of comorbidities. Also, the patient’s response to previous treatments can also be considered a clinical factor.

Non-clinical factors

These can include environmental, lifestyle, socioeconomic, and psychological factors. For instance, sun exposure can cause skin cancer, allergens can trigger eczema, stress can exacerbate conditions like psoriasis, and poor hygiene can lead to acne. Socioeconomic factors such as access to healthcare, the patient’s understanding of their condition, and adherence to treatment regimens can also impact the course of the disease.

It’s important to note that the field of dermatology is vast, and the factors leading to the presentation and progression of skin diseases are multifactorial and often individualized to each patient. Therefore, a dermatologist’s role involves a comprehensive assessment and understanding of both the clinical and non-clinical factors impacting a patient’s skin health.



“Symptoms” are subjective experiences reported by the patient, such as itching, pain, or changes they’ve noticed in their skin. For example, a patient may report persistent dryness, itching, and discomfort, which could be an indication of a condition like eczema or psoriasis.

On the other hand, “signs” are observable or measurable factors that a physician can detect during a clinical examination, like rashes, lesions, discoloration, or changes in skin texture. For instance, changes in a mole’s size, shape, or color could be an indication of potential skin cancer.


The “diagnosis” process involves taking a comprehensive history to understand the onset, duration, and pattern of symptoms; a thorough physical examination of the skin; and, if necessary, additional diagnostic tests. These might include a biopsy (taking a small sample of skin for laboratory analysis), patch tests for allergies, or blood tests to check for underlying systemic conditions.

Remember that the specific symptoms, signs, and diagnostic steps will vary greatly depending on the suspected skin condition. For example, diagnosing acne might involve a simple visual examination, whereas diagnosing melanoma would involve a more thorough examination, possibly including a biopsy and other tests.

While the internet can provide general information, if you are experiencing any skin symptoms, it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional or dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Prognosis and Impact


“Prognosis” can range from excellent to poor, depending on the specific skin disease. For instance, conditions like acne and atopic dermatitis often have a good prognosis with proper treatment, as they can be well-managed and are generally not life-threatening. On the other hand, serious conditions like melanoma can have a poorer prognosis if not detected and treated early. Factors influencing prognosis include the type and stage of the disease, the patient’s overall health and age, and their access to and compliance with treatment.


The “impact” of skin diseases can be significant and multi-dimensional. Physically, they can cause discomfort, pain, and potential functional impairment. Psychologically, they can lead to distress, anxiety, and depression, especially if the skin condition is visible, persistent, or stigmatized. Socially, they can affect relationships, work or school performance, and overall quality of life. For example, severe acne or psoriasis can significantly impact a person’s self-esteem and social interactions.

Treatment Options

  1. Topical Treatments: These are often the first line of treatment and include creams, gels, lotions, or ointments. They are commonly used for conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and minor skin infections.
  2. Oral Medications: For conditions that don’t respond well to topical treatments or for more severe cases, oral medications may be prescribed. These could include antibiotics, antifungals, antihistamines, or specialized drugs like isotretinoin for severe acne, or methotrexate for severe psoriasis.
  3. Injectable Treatments: Certain conditions might require injectable treatments. For instance, a severe cystic acne lesion might be treated with a direct cortisone injection, or biologics might be used in the treatment of severe psoriasis or eczema.
  4. Procedural Dermatology: This includes procedures like cryotherapy for warts, laser therapy for birthmarks or certain signs of aging, and surgical excision for skin cancers or cysts.
  5. Phototherapy: This involves exposing the skin to specific types of light and is commonly used for conditions like psoriasis and vitiligo.
  6. Lifestyle Changes: Recommendations may be made to make specific lifestyle changes. For example, a patient with rosacea might be advised to identify and avoid triggers that worsen their condition, like certain foods, alcohol, or stress.
  7. Psycho-social support: Dermatologists might recommend mental health support for patients dealing with the psychological impact of their skin conditions, like body dysmorphia or depression.

Risks and Side Effects

  1. Topical Treatments: Side effects might include skin irritation, dryness, redness, or peeling. Some topical medications, like corticosteroids, could cause skin thinning or discoloration if used for prolonged periods.
  2. Oral Medications: Side effects vary based on the medication. Antibiotics may cause stomach upset or allergic reactions. Isotretinoin, used for severe acne, has more severe potential side effects, including dry skin and mucous membranes, changes in blood lipids, and birth defects if taken during pregnancy.
  3. Injectable Treatments: Injections may cause pain, bruising, or swelling at the injection site. Biologics can sometimes lead to injection site reactions or systemic effects like increased risk of infections.
  4. Procedural Dermatology: Risks can include pain, infection, scarring, changes in skin color, and anesthetic complications. With surgical procedures, there’s also a risk of recurrence of the condition.
  5. Phototherapy: Side effects may include skin burns, premature skin aging, and increased risk of skin cancer with prolonged use.
  6. Lifestyle Changes: There are typically few risks associated with lifestyle modifications, but sudden, drastic changes should be done under medical supervision.
  7. Psycho-social support: Psychotherapy and related treatments are generally safe but may sometimes lead to emotional distress or discomfort as challenging issues are addressed.

FAQ Section

Clinical indications in dermatology refer to symptoms, signs, or conditions that suggest a particular skin disorder and warrant a specific treatment, testing, or further examination.

The causal factors can be both clinical and non-clinical. Clinical factors include aspects like the type of skin condition, patient’s age, gender, and health status. Non-clinical factors encompass environmental, lifestyle, socioeconomic, and psychological elements, such as sun exposure, stress, hygiene practices, and access to healthcare.

Diagnosis typically involves taking a comprehensive history, a thorough physical examination of the skin, and, if necessary, additional diagnostic tests like biopsies, patch tests, or blood tests. The specific diagnostic steps vary greatly depending on the suspected skin condition.

Skin conditions can significantly impact a patient’s physical, psychological, and social wellbeing. They can cause discomfort, pain, distress, affect self-esteem, social interactions, work or school performance, and overall quality of life.

Treatment options can include topical treatments, oral medications, injectable treatments, procedural dermatology, phototherapy, lifestyle modifications, and psycho-social support. The specific treatment plan is tailored to the individual patient and their unique needs.

Yes, all treatments can potentially have side effects or risks. These vary depending on the treatment type and range from minor skin irritation to more serious effects. It’s important for patients to discuss these with their healthcare provider to make informed decisions about their care.

Absolutely. Changes such as a balanced diet, proper hygiene, regular exercise, adequate sleep, and stress management can have a positive impact on overall skin health and can be part of a comprehensive treatment plan for many skin conditions.