What are the key differences between a trichologist and a dermatologist? If you find yourself dealing with thinning hair or a scalp disorder that’s affecting the quality and quantity of your hair, you’re no doubt looking for the best and fastest solution.

Friends and family may have recommended that you see a dermatologist, while others suggest a trichologist. Which should you choose? Where do you start?

In this article, we’re taking a closer look at the key differences between a trichologist and a dermatologist. Ultimately, your decision on which direction to take will depend on your condition and your unique needs, but it’s always important to have the facts.

What is a Trichologist?

Taken from the Greek word trikhos meaning hair, trichology is a field of study that focuses on problems with the hair and scalp. Specialists in this area concentrate on issues such as hair loss or breakage, scalp disorders such as psoriasis, and alopecia or trichotillomania.

Trichologists are not medical doctors, and therefore cannot prescribe medication. However, experienced professionals take a holistic approach to treat hair and scalp disorders. They will have an in-depth knowledge of the effect of diet, emotional wellbeing, hair styling and hair care products.

Members of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, however, can prescribe treatment creams and hair care products that they or other licenced trichologists have developed.

Licenced trichologists will complete specialised training to assess and treat hair and scalp problems. While this training may vary, certification will include:

  • Academic coursework
  • Hands-on training
  • Exams
  • Observations and mentorships

Thereafter they will join a professional organisation such as The Institute of Trichologists which provides ongoing training and education in this field.

What is a Dermatologist?

A dermatologist is a medical doctor who specialises in treating disorders of the skin, hair, and nails. Licensed to prescribe medications, most dermatologists are allopathic physicians and make use of steroids, anti-fungal creams, or other medicines to treat the affected areas. 

“A dermatologist can diagnose and treat conditions that affect your skin. This includes conditions like plaque psoriasis, rosacea, and acne. A dermatologist can also identify symptoms on your skin that could be signs of other health conditions. For example, itchy, dry skin can sometimes indicate problems with your kidneys.” (Source)

Dermatology requires extensive training which includes:

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • 4 years of medical school
  • a 1-year internship
  • a 3-year residency for 12,000 to 16,000 hours of dermatology practice

Many will then seek board certification with a recognised organisation.

Trichologist vs Dermatologist

When suffering from a hair disorder, you want to get right to the root of the problem and get the correct diagnosis and treatment. While a dermatologist may seem like a logical choice given their years of education, it’s often the trichologists that offer greater insight.

Your visit to this hair specialist will include a full and thorough assessment of your hair and scalp, as well as an in-depth discussion of your symptoms, the history of your hair health, and an exploration of any mitigating factors that may be affecting your overall health. This process is performed for both male and female hair conditions. 

A hair and scalp examination allows the professional to look for lesions or inflammation and likely includes a microscopic inspection of the hair follicles and the hair itself.

It may be necessary to refer your case to a dermatologist or other specialist for blood tests, biopsies, or a prescription. It’s not uncommon for professionals to work in partnership for the very best result. However, a trichologist is more likely to focus on a holistic approach to solving the problem and not just treating the symptoms. 

Additionally, many trichologists work closely with micropigmentation specialists, hairstylists, and human hair wig suppliers. These additional services are a logical extension of their treatment and help people affected by hair loss regain their self-confidence. 

Trichology Services

Qualified trichologists can assist with a range of hair and scalp disorders including:

  • Alopecia Areata
  • Traction Alopecia
  • Scarring Alopecia
  • Androgenetic Alopecia
  • Telogen Effluvium
  • Psoriasis
  • Folliculitis
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Seborrhoeic Eczema
  • Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia (FFA)

These ailments range from emotional to genetic disorders and can vary in how they manifest, how quickly they appear, and how long they take to treat. Having experience in these very specific problems means that your disorder can be identified and treated quickly, without guesswork. If there is an opportunity to regrow hair, speed is often of the essence. 

An added benefit of seeking assistance from a trichologist is that many have a background in hair care and styling. This experience grants them unique insight into texture problems, hair management techniques that may be damaging your hair, and what alternatives are available. This covers matters such as potential traction alopecia, damage through colouring or styling techniques, or poor hair product choices. 

Specialists in this discipline are also more exposed to different hair and scalp conditions in their many different presentations and across skin types as that is their specific focus. Treatment for hair loss is a primary concern. As a result, 100% of cases seen by a trichologist relate to the hair and scalp compared to a significantly smaller amount for Dermatologists. 

Patient Success Stories

Experience, skill, and innate care for people have proven to be just what is needed for many suffering from thinning or damaged hair. Often it’s not a medical intervention that’s needed; rather it’s a combination of preventative care, good nutrition, excellent hair care products and smart advice.

One patient of Fulham Hair and Scalp Clinic says, “In 2015 I noticed I had a small bald patch at the back of my head I had been using hair straighteners which I think started my horror story with my hair. I tried using various hair growth creams and gels and visited a private dermatologist who prescribed medication that made my hair dry and brittle which cause further hair loss. This continued for some years I wore wigs scarves and hats to cover my damaged hair.”

After a visit to the clinic and a strict treatment regime, this patient says, “As a result in 4 months I’ve gone from badly damaged hair and scalp to a full head of healthy hair I can’t believe the growth in so little time. Thanks to Teresa and Eleanore my hair is flourishing with their treatment, I don’t live in London but make the journey for in house treatments as I think it’s worth it.”

Talk to Our Specialists

If you’re suffering from hair loss or you are concerned about any issues with your hair or scalp, we’d like to encourage you to chat with us at Fulham Scalp and Hair Clinic.

You will be attended to by Eleanore or Teresa, who between them have an impressive set of skills and experience, and are certain to have a long-term solution to your problem. Furthermore, they specialise in Afro-Caribbean, mixed, and textured hair types. 

As qualified and experienced trichologists and license holders with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, as well as highly sought after product developers and speakers in their own right, you know that you’re in safe hands. 

Please feel free to get in touch for a confidential consultation.

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