A Brief History of U.S. Dermatology

The development of the field of dermatology traces back to the early to mid 19th century when various bacteria and fungi were discovered. American dermatology originated in New York City in 1836 when Henry Daggett Bulkley, MD (1803-1872), the first American dermatologist, opened the the Broome Street Infirmary for Diseases of the Skin. 

However, the importance of dermatology as a science was not looked upon favorably in the US in the early to mid 1800’s. By the late 1800’s the condition that diseases of the skin needed to be connected to the overall physiology of the patients as a whole was becoming more mainstream. The early American Dermatological Association was formed in 1886. 

In the early 20th century, German dermatology had a huge influence on American dermatology through multiple lecture series. By 1932, The American Board of Dermatology was established. IN 1937, the Society for Investigative Dermatology was founded, and in 1938, the American Academy of Dermatology and Syphilology (now the American Academy of Dermatology) was founded. The 1930s also saw a major influx of German and other European Jews fleeing Nazi oppression which led to the flourishing of American dermatology. 

It wasn’t until the 20th century that truly effective therapies were discovered to treat dermatologic conditions. These key drugs included the following: quinacrine, para-aminobenzoic acid, dapsone, hydrocortisone, benzoyl peroxide, griseofulvin, methotrexate, and 5-fluorouracil. 

And of course, from there the therapeutic medications available to  dermatologists has grown exponentially. Thankfully so!

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