The subject of dermatology is vast. It is often said there are over 2000 known skin disorders, consequently there is a lot to learn if you want to immerse yourself. The best way of rapidly acquiring knowledge is probably to read a textbook. In the United Kingdom, the main textbook for Dermatologists is “Rooks Textbook of Dermatology”, affectionately known as the “Rook Book”, which has been in existence for 53 years and is up to its ninth edition. It's a great resource but its size (four volumes, 4000 pages weighing in at several kilograms) makes it expensive and definitely not a pocket-sized reference book! After many years of discussions, the editorial team behind the Rook book have decided to condense the tome into a mere 1000-page pocketbook (if you have a big pocket) which is due to be published this year (Griffiths, Bleiker et al. 2022).
So how do you condense a book to about a quarter of its size? As the authors point out in producing this concise edition they have taken a strictly clinical approach to each skin disorder, so out has gone the historical aspects of the subject, along with the histopathology and the extensive reference lists to focus on the essentials.
In keeping the book useful, particularly for the beginner, the first two chapters retain the basics on skin structure, assessment and the terminology which can be daunting to the unaccustomed. The second part introduces the principles of therapeutics in dermatology. From here the book is simply divided into ten sections:
Metabolic & Nutritional Disorders
Psychological & Neurological conditions
Skin disorders affecting specific skin structures
Dermatoses affecting specific sites, sex and age
Skin disease due to external agents
Systemic disease and the skin
Each of these sections focuses on the more common or clinically relevant conditions following a simple format of identifying a condition and discussing epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical features, differential diagnosis, investigations and management. Management for each is kept to a minimum with just the headline therapies being outlined. The book is colourful and contains many hundreds of images, many of which are taken from the main Rook book itself. There are also plenty of charts and tables summarising useful information. It's good to see contemporary content such as cutaneous manifestations of COVID-19 including COVID toes!
For podiatrists, the book covers a broad range of conditions and has a surprising number of foot related images for a general dermatology text. It will provide a quick clinical reference indicating the brief management but for more detailed information, you will probably have to look elsewhere. Saying that, books in this price range which cover such a broad range of conditions are hard to find so the text definitely meets a need.
Overall, this is a long overdue handbook which covers the clinical essentials of dermatology focussing on the common and the important skin conditions. The paperback edition is released at the beginning of March 2022, priced around £59.00, a kindle version is also available at a lower price and should be available around the same time.
Griffiths, C. E., T. Bleiker, D. Creamer, J. R. Ingram and R. C. Simpson (2022). Rook′s Dermatology Handbook. Oxford, Wiley-Blackwell.