A century ago, afflictions of the skin were among the major burdens of humankind. They included bacterial, fungal, and viral infections and parasitic infestations. It was through signs in the skin that pestilence was identified. Treatment of syphilis was a major dermatologic responsibility. Paul Ehrlich, the world's first chemotherapist, had just discovered compound 606 (arsphenamine), which for decades would be the drug for impeding the progression of that devastating disease. Lupus vulgaris and other forms of cutaneous tuberculosis were prevalent and the treatment of these diseases in Europe involved thousands of hospital beds. Dermatologic physicians were engaged intensely. Society's need for the specialty was the need of the specialty itself.
Van Scott EJ. The Need of the Specialty Is the Need for the Specialty. Arch Dermatol. 2000;136(1):94-95. doi:10.1001/archderm.136.1.94