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Dermatology Online: The Best Of Dermatology on the Net -I

A Review by Dr Kabir Sardana: Pool Officer Dept Of Dermatology & STD , LHMC

Dermatology sites and us-the best from the mess!

Do you know that approximately 60% of what is on the net is rubbish and misleading! The same is true for dermatology sites. Here an attempt has been made to glean out the best of the mess. The following discussion is after extensive research, for articles validating the ideal dermatology sites and personal experience with most of them.

 The mainstay of dermatologic diagnosis is that of visual inspection and gross morphology The graphic nature of the field of dermatology kindly lends itself to the use of the Internet. The Internet is growing at an explosive rate with an estimated 100 million users on-line by the end of the century.. and more than 500,000 sites are indexed as "Dermatology Resources."The shear abundance of dermatology sites on the Internet is not in itself a representation of the utility of the material. Physician concerns regarding the accuracy of Internet information can be evidenced by data, which demonstrates that although 65% physicians surveyed agree that the Internet can enhance their access to clinical information, only 46% believe the information is likely to be of high quality.

The sites presented below are a sampling of those providing high quality and as such, the order of presentation is an attempt to grade them according to their utility. Since dermatology is enhanced by graphics, which can take a long time to download, the author recommends using a fast modem or other connection to the Internet. Initially, use an internet café to scan the sites and then open the relevant sites on your PC and add it to the favorite list to enable rapid opening of the site. And always keep two internet connections on your PC, as the ISP gets popular it becomes difficult to access info ‘cause everyone is on the same ISP’.

I have made an attempt to give a code to enable use by students(S),researchers(R), senior dermatologist(SD) and practitioners(P).

University of Iowa, Department of Dermatology Home Page ***** (S), (R) (SD) (P). ( The University's departmental site serves as an index to a large number of local (i.e., University of Iowa based) and external dermatology resources including Of interest to clinical dermatologists and students are the image database, an introduction to basic dermatology from the "Virtual Hospital®," the "DermPathTutor©," and "Dermatology Differential Diagnosis by Morphology©." The image database contains 337 images arranged alphabetically. Histologic images are available through the DermPathTutor" which is an excellent tutorial in dermatopathology The tutorial includes a dictionary, dermatopathology images, and descriptive text. "Dermatology Differential Diagnosis by Morphology" is targeted at students and residents of dermatology with the goal of assisting learning differential diagnoses of skin disorders and diseases. Diagnoses are provided based on the clinical and morphologic features of skin lesions and can be revised by taking into consideration any added characteristics which may be present. The overall site layout is good but is somewhat difficult to navigate due to the number of links, page multiplicity, and poor search feature. To initiate a search one must follow a number of links which can be confusing and makes a return to the dermatology home page tricky. However, the site is well-developed, offering a number of useful resources worth exploration.

Dermatology Online Journal **** (S), (R)                                                                   

( The Dermatology Online Journal is a peer-reviewed electronic journal designed to take advantage of the multimedia nature of the Internet with the goal of making relevant material readily accessible to dermatologists. What makes this journal unique is its design - it is not simply an electronic copy of a paper based journal with a few digitized photographs added for effect but was designed to make full use of the Internet since its conception.

Also worth a visit is Matrix Dermatology Resources (, the parent site to the Journal which houses "Dermatology for Students" and "RxDerm." "Dermatology for Students" contains educational material used by medical students at the UC Davis Medical School. Besides presenting the basic science of skin, skin disease, and an introduction to the physical diagnosis of the skin, this section includes a melanoma tutorial and skin tumor atlas which are of benefit to physicians as well.This site though excellent is now a paid site. RxDerm contains the archives of an on-line discussion group devoted to dermatologists which are indexed alphabetically from acanthosis nigricans to zoster; much of the dialogue is case related.

Summary:Original content, frequent updates, and excellent organization are strong points of this site. Material is far-reaching in its content with sections appropriate for both students and specialists. Includes a search function

Dermatology Image Bank at the University of Utah School of Medicine **** (S),  (P).

( Although its offerings are not as extensive as some of the other sites detailed herein, the site has a very clean and simple layout allowing for easy navigation. "Thumbnail" images are presented with links to corresponding full-size graphics and descriptive text. Once one has worked through the database, a quiz is available for self-assessment, making this a good resource for students and physicians interested in testing their knowledge of basic dermatology. One feature that makes this site unique is video - nine segments are available for download which demonstrate procedures such as spray freezing, punch and shave biopsies, and closure techniques..

Summary: Well-ordered layout is easy to navigate and includes a number of images, which are readily previewed by thumbnail. It is unclear as to how often the material is modified as the site only displays a 1997 copyright. The site offers original content, primarily geared towards non-specialists, but is incomplete in its content

Dermatology Online Image Atlas (DOIA) ( ****(S),(R)(SD)(P).

: The DOIA was developed on the premise that dermatologic differential diagnosis is based on the recognition of clinical and histopathological features and that the availability of a comprehensive image database improves patient care and education.The site is maintained by the University of Erlangen in Germany. Dermatology links as well as an interesting and informative list of publications related to the Internet and "Teledermatology" are available at this site. The DOIA contains thousands of high quality images combined with a search function which allows combined searches according to diagnosis, localization, and appearance of skin lesions. Images are also organized alphabetically by "diagnosisIncluded are images covering uncommon diagnoses which are infrequently available in conventional textbooks.

Summary: By far the most complete online image database. The atlas is well organized, fully indexed, and contains images with excellent resolution. The site is regularly updated and available on CD-ROM.

The Electronic Textbook of Dermatology *** (S), (P).

( The Electronic Textbook of Dermatology is produced by the Internet Dermatology Society (IDS). The site is aimed at an audience of "trained clinical dermatologists" but is equally suited to non-dermatologists and medical students with an interest in the field of dermatology. The layout of the site allows for easy navigation although there is no automated search feature. The material presented is organized by topic and ranges from anatomy to therapeutics. There is some variation in the depth of the content presented. However, there is a broad range of subject matter covered including some unusual topics such as the cutaneous manifestations of biowarfare. In addition to the Textbook of Dermatology, the IDS site features the "Dermatology Knowledge Builder" which provides links to IDS Global Dermatology Grand Rounds (case reports with a search utility) and a number of off-site resourcesty

Summary: Broad content incorporating a number of unusual topics. Site layout facilitates navigation despite a deficient search function. Response to e-mail inquiries is unsatisfactory.

Martindale's Health Science Guide –*** (S), (R)

 Dermatology ( This is a component of the massive 'Virtual' Medical Center created by James Martindale and hosted by the University of California. The section pertinent to dermatology contains an impressive number of links to online dermatology resources organized as "databases," "journals," "courses & textbooks," "tutorials & cases," and finally, "images." Although the site does not contain any original material, it is presented as an excellent starting point for those wishing to further explore online dermatology resources.

Summary: Constantly evolving and encyclopedic in it's content, this site contains links to an enormous variety of information including dermatology resources.

MedMark: Medical Bookmarks for Dermatology ***  (R) (SD)

( MedMark may well be the most comprehensive sources of dermatology links on the Internet but like the previous site does not contain any true content. There are several hundred links grouped into the following categories: Associations/Societies; Centers/Institutes/Labs; Departments/Divisions; Education/Training; Consumer; General; Hospitals/Clinics; Images/Atlases; Information Sources; Journals/News/Publications; Lists of Resources; and, Other Organizations. Links to electronic "bookmarks" for related resources such as infectious disease, immunology, and pathology can be accessed from MedMark's Home Page(

Summary: This site is periodically updated, well organized, and comprehensive in its listings. Although the site does not include any original content, it offers an excellent source of dermatology links.

The Cutaneous Drug Reaction Database at Dartmouth ***  (R) (SD)

 (gopher:// Although this site is not an true "web page" per se (i.e., it does not contain graphics or other multimedia features typical of the Internet/World Wide Web) it can be viewed using a standard web browser. The data is organized alphabetically by generic name, is updated annually, and can be searched using the site's search function which also allows trade name searches.

Summary: Comprehensive and updated regularly, this searchable database does a thorough job of organizing a great number of drug reactions and their cutaneous manifestations.

.University of Rochester Medical Center, Dermatology Laboratory Tests **  (R) (SD) (P)

 ( The University of Rochester Dermatology Laboratory Tests site provides current information on a number of infrequently used diagnostic tests for dermatologic diseases and is an excellent source of information concerning tests which are difficult to obtain. Tests are organized by technique (e.g., enzyme assay, PCR), disease, or can be located using the site's search utility. Analysis methods, specimen collection and shipping instructions, contact information and fee schedules are provided.

Summary: Original content, periodically updated, and well organized. This includes links to both on- and off-site material. The image atlas is indexed alphabetically and offers a variety of high-quality images of use for dermatologists and students alike.



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