Dermatology and the Internet
The widespread availability of access to the Internet has had profound effects on dermatology. Doctors and students now have unlimited access to medical information, patients have readily available facts or opinions about their conditions, and both clinicians and patients have the possibility for remote consultation by ‘teledermatology’.
Searches can be made through databases such as PubMed (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez) (Fig. 1) and online written information obtained through search engines such as Google (scholar.google.com/). Another useful resource is McKusick’s catalogue of inherited diseases (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?db=omim).
All the major dermatological organizations have their own Websites that give practical details for clinicians and patients, e.g. the British Association of Dermatologists (www.bad.org.uk/) (Fig. 2), the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (www.eadv.org/) and the American Academy of Dermatology (www.aad.org/). Most large international institutions have their own Websites, e.g. the World Health Organization (www.who.int/).
There are Websites specifically dedicated to education, such as emedicine (emedicine.medscape.com/dermatology), MedlinePlus (www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/skinconditions.html) (Fig. 3) and the New Zealand Dermatological Society (www.dermnet.org.nz/index.html). Another useful site is an online atlas, e.g. the Dermatology Image Atlas (dermatlas.med.jhmi.edu/derm/).
In an age when the clinician is called upon to defend his or her practice, it is useful to know that there are Web pages dedicated to providing details and analysis on the true benefit or otherwise of many valuable therapies. The Cochrane Skin Group’s Website (skin.cochrane.org/) and the National Library for Health (www.evidence.nhs.uk) are invaluable resources.