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  • Writer's pictureIvan Bristow

A great resource in dermatology

Dermatology is an interesting but vast subject area and when healthcare professionals are seeking further information on a potential diagnosis or a specific condition searching the internet can often pull up good and not-so-good information. The Primary Care Dermatology Society (PCDS) is UK based charity and organisation for healthcare professionals with an interest in dermatology. It started in the 1990s exclusively for general practitioners but has grown a large membership nationally including all members of the primary care team with an interest in skin. Over recent years, it has continued to develop a range of resources including its website (

The original website was a free online resource of dermatological conditions which at the time was much acclaimed and valued by colleagues. This month sees the launch of the new PCDS website, which has built on that success to produce an extensive resource for any healthcare professional looking for reliable information on dermatological conditions.

Dr. Tim Cunliffe, a consultant dermatologist at Tees Valley Hospital, started work on the website around 2010. As a GP turned dermatologist himself following a melanoma diagnosis, he wanted to create a practical resource that had clinical relevance to those wanting to learn more about dermatology particularly as GP training in the subject across the UK is highly variable. Consequently, the content is focused on the clinical features, diagnosis and management including first- and second-line treatment options. The website has grown to become a global resource with around 34 000 hits per week.

The recently updated website is redesigned and brings together a whole range of dermatological resources. Firstly, the dermatological section has been updated and expanded. So often when we see a patient with a rash on their feet, for example, we are unsure of the best way to search. The new website is laid out in such a way that the user can choose to search for a diagnosis by site, patient history or lesion morphology with distinct subheadings to assist in making a diagnosis. Diagnostic tables, which help the user reach potential diagnoses, are also very helpful. A section has been added on dermoscopy and gives some pointers on its application and useful videos on choosing a dermatoscope.

Dr Tim Cunliffe, Consultant Dermatologist and lead author

The new website still retains one of its main features an A to Z of dermatological conditions which contains many 100’s of clinical photographs. Diagnoses can be searched by name and a link then takes you to individual pages which contain clinical information and for most, clinical images. Each section also includes details on the suggested management for the condition. Another area covers skin assessment including history taking, investigations and skin examination. Alongside this is the dermatological dictionary which demystifies some of the common language used to describe skin lesions. In addition, concise guidelines can be found for a range of conditions including warts, fungal infections and nail disorders. The patient’s information section has also been expanded with information on self-examination.

The PCDS offers courses across the UK in a wide range of skin-related subjects such as skin surgery, dermoscopy, general dermatology and the popular essential dermatology series for those working in primary care. Details of all of these can be found on the website educational events page. Overall, the website is a major free resource for all those interested in dermatology and reflects the hard work of Dr. Tim Cunliffe as the lead author who wrote and developed much of the material found on the site with assistance from Dr. Kash Bhatti & Neil Evans who provided the technical support.

The website can be accessed here:

Declaration: Ivan Bristow is a trustee of the Primary Care Dermatology Society


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