I had not read the first version of these guidelines previously, although I am familiar with other titles in the series. Having now reviewed these dermatology guidelines in detail, they will become an essential part of my therapeutic armamentarium.

The guidelines provide a thorough review of dermatological conditions, including an overview of basics, like morphology, types and distribution of lesions, and practical procedures like biopsies, intralesional steroid injections, dressings and patch testing. They include many useful tables, which provide an aide memoire for a variety of conditions and their management.

This volume is a comprehensive and up-to-date review, with detailed sections on cosmetic dermatology, drug reactions and particularly good contributions on nail disorders, eczema, vasculitis, leg ulcers and wound healing. Recently approved drugs like imiquimod for actinic keratoses and superficial basal cell cancers, and pimecrolimus for eczema are included, so the guidelines are contemporaneous.

Criticisms include the alphabetic format, the inclusion of a chapter on burns, a relatively superficial review on melanoma and the frequent recommendations for referral to a dermatologist for conditions which could be managed by a general practitioner with an interest and a little training in dermatology.

Notwithstanding, the guidelines are a very thorough, up-to-date review of most things dermatological. The index is comprehensive and the tables and boxes provide a valuable resource. The fundamentals of diagnosis and treatment, including the often overlooked basics like emollient therapy, are included.

The Dermatology Guidelines provide a valuable tool for general practitioners and students, and for those experienced in dermatology.

Paul Buckley

General practitioner, Canberra