Losing your hair is a concern. However, who do you contact? A lot of people aren’t sure which type of doctor or specialist to call when they begin experiencing hair loss or thinning. Your barber may be able to confirm, “Yep, there’s less than last time!” but that can hardly be used as a diagnostic and definitely won’t assist you in finding a treatment for hair loss. The most qualified medical professional for this job is a dermatologist. It is easy to consider dermatologists as skin specialists and forget that your hair is closely connected to your skin. However, dermatologists can be just as knowledgeable in hair conditions as they are with skin issues.
What Is Dermatology?
The word ‘dermatology’ is derived from the Greek word ‘dermatos’ (genitive of ‘derma), which means ‘of skin’. The field of dermatology is a distinct branch of medicine that concentrates on ailments that affect the skin, as well as problems affecting your hair, nails, and the delicate lining of your eyes, mouth and nose.
The skin is your body’s biggest organ. It is home to nerve endings, hair follicles, sweat glands, blood vessels, pores, and many more structures. The care you give is crucial for your overall wellbeing. While general physicians and internal medicine specialists might be able to identify and treat the same ailments, a dermatologist may have a more thorough understanding and possess more expertise. This is why many primary care physicians send patients to dermatologists for more specialised treatments.
What Do Dermatologists Do?
Dermatologists are experts in treating skin, hair and nails; contrary to popular belief, they don’t just focus on psoriasis and acne. They care for people in all stages of life, from newborns to seniors, and they can diagnose, treat and manage over 3000 skin conditions. They will assess your physical symptoms and may conduct tests to reach a diagnosis. They will develop an ongoing treatment plan that may include oral medications you take, topical medications you apply to your skin, surgery or procedures like laser or light therapy, or avoiding things that cause an allergic reaction.
If your issues are regarding hair loss, dermatologists can assist you in determining what kind of hair loss is happening and suggesting the best therapy or referring you to a different specialist.
Qualifications of Dermatologist
In Australia, dermatologists spend over ten years at university, studying the methods of diagnosing and treating different hair and skin disorders. The Australasian College of Dermatologists (ACD) is the only organisation accredited to train and assess dermatologists in Australia. As per the ACD, dermatologists must spend four to six years completing their university medical degree, at least two years completing their post-university medical experience, and four years completing the requirements of the ACD Training Program, before sitting the Fellowship Examination to be eligible to become a Fellow of the ACD.
The AAD has an online search tool that can help people suffering from hair, skin, or nail problems locate the nearest dermatologist.
What Kinds of Ailments Do Dermatologists Treat?
Dermatologists treat a variety of ailments that can affect your hair, skin, or nails. Some of the most frequently-reported diseases they treat include:
- Acne. Based on the extent of your acne, dermatologists may treat the problem using topical treatments, medications, laser or light therapy, chemical peels, or by eliminating large cysts.
- Skin cancer. Skin cancer can develop anywhere on your body. A dermatologist can take cancerous cells and keep an eye on your body to ensure cancer doesn’t come back.
- Dermatitis. Dermatitis is a broad term that covers a variety of skin disorders that cause irritation and inflammation, such as eczema and psoriasis.
- Infections. Viruses, as well as bacteria, fungi, and parasites, are all able to get to your skin and trigger various skin conditions. A dermatologist will help you determine the source of infection and provide treatments.
- Hair Loss. Hair loss can be caused by several factors; for example, medical conditions such as alopecia, genetics, stress, and hormonal changes. A dermatologist can help identify the root cause and treat the problem if possible.
- Nail problems. Discoloration, spots, and split nails are all common nail problems that can be addressed by dermatologists.
Dermatologists Offer Treatments for Hair Loss
There are numerous hair loss treatments on offer, both surgical and non-surgical. The right solution for you depends on various factors such as the reasons behind your hair loss and pre-existing health conditions. This is why dermatologists are supremely helpful in helping you make sense of the various treatments on offer and discerning the most appropriate one.
Oral prescription medications like Propecia/Finasteride work by blocking testosterone’s conversion to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), attempting to stop and reverse the shrinking of hair follicles. While oral medications are among the better-known hair loss treatments, their results aren’t guaranteed and often come with unpleasant side effects.
Topical creams such as Minoxidil and Regaine are also well-known; they are vasodilators, which means they open up blood vessels and increase blood flow to the body. Again, their results vary and may come with unwanted side effects. Topical creams are also not recommended for many demographics, such as pregnant women or women trying to conceive, people with low blood pressure, people over 60 years of age, and more.
Hair transplantation is another popular treatment that features taking a graft of hair from an area that is still rich in hair and implanting it on the balding area. New hair growth can take several months after the transplant, and results depend on the pattern and degree of baldness.
An increasingly popular and trusted hair loss solution is Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP), a non-surgical and non-invasive procedure where microdots of pigment are tattooed onto the scalp to replicate the appearance of a shaven head of hair. When delivered by a skilled SMP artist, the pigment blends seamlessly with your remaining hair and skin tone, and can be used to disguise hair loss, restore receding hairlines, and cover scalp scarring.
Other well-known hair loss treatments include nutritional vitamin supplements, prescription topical treatments, laser or light therapy, and platelet-rich plasma (PRP). Above all, it is important to act early to treat your hair loss. The earlier you address hair loss or thinning, the quicker a dermatologist can identify the cause behind it. When you notice signs of loss of your hair, that’s the time to make an appointment.
Here Are 5 Things to Know About Dermatologist Hair Loss
1. How Do Dermatologists Determine the Cause of Hair Loss?
The first step dermatologists take to determine the root of your hair loss is gathering as much information as possible. They will ask you questions about your personal life, family history, work life, and much more. They will then take a look at your scalp and other body parts to discover what may be causing the loss of your hair.
The dermatologist can also request to run a test that examines the condition of the hair. This is done by removing some strands of hair and other tests. If your dermatologist suspects that the reason for the loss of your hair is a disease, an infection, hormone imbalance, or vitamin deficiency, laboratory tests are required. These tests are typically conducted at the dermatologist’s clinic.
2. What Should You Expect When Visiting A Dermatologist?
In your visit, your dermatologist will ask about the duration and progress of your hair loss, along with the extent and location of the loss you’ve experienced throughout the course. Dermatologists might opt to use testing methods such as scalp biopsies or dermoscopy that can help them take a closer review of what’s happening to the hair. It is typically performed after physical examinations are completed.
3. What Are the Primary Causes of Hair Loss?
There are many reasons for hair loss. Pattern baldness (also known as androgenetic alopecia) is hereditary and the most common cause of male hair loss, affecting approximately 50% of men in Australia. Contrary to popular belief, women also experience pattern baldness, although this is less common. Dermatologists differentiate pattern baldness from other types of hair loss by examining the pattern.
Other common causes of hair loss include alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that assaults healthy tissues such as hair follicles; cancer treatments; ageing; childbirth or periods of extreme stress; hormonal imbalances; particular medications; nutritional deficiencies; and more.
4. Hair Loss Treatments
Dermatologists can recommend a variety of treatments to treat hair loss, and the specific method used will depend on the reason for the loss of hair and the anticipated result. As we previously covered, Scalp Micropigmentation, oral tablets, topical creams, and hair transplantation are among the methods for treating hair loss.
5. Are There Adverse Effects from These Treatments?
Every medication comes with side consequences, but when taken in the manner recommended by your dermatologist, they shouldn’t be considered a cause for concern. It is crucial to follow the instructions on the best way to use the medication as advised by your dermatologist. In terms of hair loss treatments, Scalp Micropigmentation is rare due to its non-invasive and non-surgical approach, making it less risky than other popular hair loss treatments.
Things To Look for In Your Dermatologist
Being concerned about your skin can bring unwanted stress into your daily life. The right dermatologist for you will ensure that you receive the most suitable treatment for your lifestyle. When looking for a dermatologist, you may not have the same level of familiarity with dermatologists as you have with family doctors, which is why it’s important to consider the following factors.
Experience With the Right Types of Dermatology
There are various kinds of dermatologists available. Some dermatologists are more focused on the basics of dermatology, such as rosacea and rashes, than cosmetic dermatologists who combine the medical aspect of their practice with aesthetics. If your primary concern is ageing, you may be looking more for an aesthetic dermatologist who can provide treatments to tackle issues like wrinkles, skin laxity, and volume loss.
Their Medical Credentials
Like any physician, you should choose an experienced dermatologist with the proper qualifications and training. The most important thing to be looking for is that the dermatologist you choose to work with is recognised by the ACD. Although this is not a guarantee the dermatologist you choose is the best person for you, this will show that they’re not just adequately trained but also have passed a set of standards set by the governing board for dermatology in Australia.
Their Patient Reviews
No one can give you more insight into dermatologists’ work than their patients. After having your appointment with the doctor, look at their reviews online to determine whether other patients’ experiences match with your initial impression of the physician. A doctor who puts on an eager face in your appointment but doesn’t think about the wellbeing of the patient and their satisfaction over the long term might not be the right choice.
Dermatologists Treat A Wide Range of Skin, Hair and Nail Issues
Dermatology is an area of medicine focused on the conditions that impact the skin, as well as issues that can affect your hair, nails, and the lining of your eyes, nose and mouth. Dermatologists use various methods of treatment and medications to deal with specific skin issues and assist you in avoiding skin problems that may arise later on in your life. Considering hair loss can impact every aspect of your life, it shouldn’t be taken lightly, which is why we recommend consulting a trusted dermatologist sooner rather than later when it comes to your hair loss journey.