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For patients

As a patient, you will need a referral to our service from you GP. Patients with skin disease are usually treated in our outpatient clinics but occasionally you may need to be admitted for more intensive procedures. Children are always admitted to the paediatric wards.

The services we provide are:

Dermatopathology

Dermatopathology (the study of skin disease, at a microscopic level) is crucial to the management of many skin diseases and mandatory in suspected skin cancer. Diagnosis, which determines how a disease is treated, is often confirmed and dependent on dermatopathology expertise.

Professor Rino Cerio at the Barts Health Skin Centre is the only professor of dermatopathology in the UK and has an international reputation. Our centre is extremely well known for our pioneering work in this area, and lead in the way in specialist fields including managing skin cancer in immunosuppressed patients.

Female genital

Skin problems on the genitalia are common and can cause women to feel unhappy and embarrassed. Dr Karen Gibbon at the Barts Health Skin Centre has a special interest in this field, and works closely with gynaecologists to treat women with these disorders. She has over a decade of experience and is a nationally recognised expert in this field.

Dr Gibbon runs clinics four times each month at The Royal London Hospital for general skin problems of the vulva and specialist cancer clinics are held every monthly with our gynaecology specialists.

Genetic skin

This is a new NHS clinic for patients with genetic skin disease. We receive referrals from GPs and hospitals from all over the UK and sometimes abroad. The clinic offers diagnosis and treatment for a range of inherited skin conditions.

Our leading expert, Professor Edel O’Toole, sees patients with different types of ichthyosis (inherited scaly, dry skin), keratodermas (thickened skin on the hands and feet), pachyonychia congenita (a condition that affects palms, soles, nails and sometimes the mouth) and other inherited skin disorders. We perform genetic analysis for many of these disorders and if necessary we can also liaise with other laboratories in the UK and abroad for specific tests.

Immunodeficiency

We run dedicated clinics for patients with immunodeficiency. We hold a weekly specialist clinic to manage complex skin disorders linked to HIV infection and AIDS (the conditions, the medications used to treat them, can both cause skin problems). It is one of only two such specialist clinics in the UK and is consultant-led.

We also care for patients who have had an organ transplant. Their immune systems are impaired by the medication used to stop them rejecting the new organ, which can lead to skin problems. We run a special skin clinic for transplant patients - the first of its kind in the country.

Patch testing/skin allergy

Some skin diseases can be caused by an allergy. If we can identify an allergy, this offers the chance of a cure for the patient’s skin problem. We hold weekly clinics, where we can carry out diagnostic tests including patch testing, radioallergosorbent testing (RAST testing) and skin prick testing. Suitable patients for this clinic are those with long standing, difficult to manage eczema, facial or hand eczema, ano-genital eczema, patients having reactions to ear or eye drops, those with an acute onset of new eczema and people who have work-related skin problems. We can also investigate suspected latex allergy.

Psoriasis care

We have a dedicated specialist nurse-led phototherapy day centre for our patients and offer the very latest light treatments. We also provide the full range of topical and systemic (oral and injected) biological therapies.

Botox for excessive sweating

We provide Botox treatment for excessive sweating (hyperhidrosis) on the NHS, which is unique in London. This is a hugely popular service which results in high patient satisfaction.

Photobiology and phototherapy

Our skin centre is one of only two specialist centres in London that provide a specialist referral service for the diagnosis and management of patients with abnormal photosensitivity (sensitivity to sunlight causing an allergic reaction). The clinic also offers phototherapy (a treatment involving gradual increases of ultraviolet light to the skin in a precise controlled fashion) for inflammatory skin conditions. We use the latest light therapies to treat skin conditions, including psoriasis and eczema.

Psychodermatology

Psychodermatology is the branch of dermatology concerned with treating skin disorders using psychological and psychiatric techniques. We have particular expertise in this area and run a dedicated clinic for patients with skin disease and psychiatric problems. This clinic is unique in London as patients see both skin specialists and psychiatric experts in one setting. We help patients to manage conditions including delusional parasitosis, body dysmorphic disorder, dermatitis artefacta, delusions of body odour and other primarily psychiatric disorders. In addition, we see patients who have a dermatological disease with an underlying psychological component (such as a patient with psoriasis who is depressed). We are pleased to receive referrals from around the country.

Iontophoresis

Iontophoresis is a treatment for patients with excessively sweaty hands and feet. It involves placing your hands and feet in a water bath in a special machine where a very low electric current passes through the water. It is not dangerous or painful and can be very helpful. If it works for you we can give you details on how to buy your own home machine. The same technique is used to treat excessive underarm sweating.

Investigations and treatments

In addition to clinics, the service can also carry out skin biopsies (the removal of a small piece of skin to help make a diagnosis).

Dependant on the results of investigations, and your consultation with the doctor, the following therapies are available:

  • Phototherapy (light therapy)
  • Mohs’ micrographic surgery (a treatment for skin cancer)
  • Systemic and biologic therapy
  • Cosmetic camouflage
  • Herbal therapy
  • Iontophoresis  (a treatment for increased sweating)

Please note: some treatments are not available on the NHS.

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