Dermatology texts generally appear to be of three types: encyclopedias, atlases, and handbooks or guides. Each type has its good points and its limitations. The encyclopedias, for example, are the most comprehensive, offering the most information on the largest number of conditions. Unfortunately, a working knowledge is often required to be able to use such a text. If, for example, you cannot identify the disorder before consulting the book, you may be in for a tedious, hit-or-miss, frustrating search for help.
Atlases can greatly assist in the process of learning visual diagnosis, so important in dermatology. But volumes with sufficient breadth are difficult to produce, as the high cost of color reproductions limits the number of views and disorders that can be included; black-and-white photographs are usually poor substitutes.
Handbooks and guides may be extremely helpful in orienting beginners, guiding nondermatologists, and providing review. (Saul Krugman's chapter on exanthems in