A trichologist is a specialist who studies and treats the diseases of the hair and scalp through the paramedical science of trichology.
Many people confuse trichologists with dermatologists because their work can seem very similar. However, there’s a difference in their education, training, and qualifications.
Because many trichologists now offer multiple hair treatments, it’s important that you know what they actually do. While some work in salons, others work in clinics.
In this guide, you’ll find out everything you need to know about trichologists.
What Is A Trichologist?
According to the Institute of Trichologists, a trichologist studies the “science of the structure, function and diseases of the human hair.”
Trichologist meaning someone who’s studied “trichology” – from the Greek word “thrix,” meaning hair.
Trichologists are not medical doctors, but they receive training of a “clinical and medical nature.” Through this, they diagnose and treat problems of the hair and scalp.
While trichologists can diagnose and treat different scalp disorders, they cannot prescribe drugs.
For treatment, they can give you certain creams and shampoos, either prepared by them or another trichologist who has a Medicines Control Agency license.
Your trichologist will likely work with a medical doctor if you need prescription drugs or more invasive tests or treatments. Patients are referred to dermatologists and physicians by trichologists when necessary.
What Does a Trichologist Do?
Since hair and scalp disorders and diseases are a speciality of trichologists, they can provide diagnosis and treatment to the patient.
The following are a few examples of some hair and scalp problems a trichologist can help you with:
- Pattern baldness (male and female)
- Alopecia areata
- Telogen effluvium
- Cicatricial alopecia
- Traumatic alopecia
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Tinea capitis
- Thyroid hair loss
- Nutritional-deficiency-related hair loss
- Abnormal hair growth
- Environmental factors
A trichologist can also advise patients on any new hair products that come out and whether or not they are effective.
They have a more holistic approach to diagnosing the underlying cause of the hair or scalp problem.
Is A Trichologist A Doctor?
A trichologist is not a medically-qualified doctor. They’re hair specialists or experts with clinical training. So, they can help you with many different hair and scalp issues.
But while they’re not doctors, certified trichologists do study the subjects of anatomy, physiology, and endocrinology, among others. So, they have the medical knowledge to help you with specific scalp concerns.
Still, going to a trichologist doesn’t guarantee that your hair loss will stop. That depends on the accurate diagnosis of the problem.
Keep in mind that a trichologist’s NHS availability is not possible, and you don’t need a referral from your GP to book an appointment with them.
They’re like a private service, so you can approach them directly. There are even dedicated trichologists for black hair that you can find.
However, you need to be careful because trichologists aren’t regulated by any particular licensing body. So, it’s possible for anyone to call themselves a hair trichologist.
So, to find an actual trichologist, find out if they’re members of a reputable trichology institute (like the Institute of Trichologists in the UK).
Also, they need the necessary training and qualification (again, from a good trichology institute).
What Does Trichology Treatment Do?
If you go to a trichologist for the treatment of hair loss, they can give you certain creams, ointments, lotions, conditioners and shampoos that can help with hair loss.
First, they’ll try to diagnose the problem by doing a physical exam and asking questions about your health, lifestyle, and medical history.
Following that, they may do the treatment session at the clinic or offer you products to take home. If it’s an in-office treatment, depending on the cause of the problem, shampoo or cream may be applied to your scalp.
They’ll either let it sit or massage it into the scalp before washing it off. This may be followed by the application of certain creams, serums or even red light therapy. So, it can take about an hour or so.
Once you’re done, you may be given some products to take home with you.
Their treatment plan can also include recommendations on certain diet and lifestyle changes that can help stop your hair loss.
Keep in mind, however, since trichologists are not medical doctors, prescribing drugs is not possible for them. For that, as mentioned earlier, they can collaborate with GPs and dermatologists.
But, depending on the country you’re in, trichologists may prescribe medicines and even perform surgical procedures like hair transplants after getting relevant education and training.
Hair Care and Trichologists: What’s Recommended?
A lot of the products recommended by trichologists contain ingredients that are for hydrating or moisturising the scalp.
But they can also be for getting rid of dandruff or any build-up. Cade cream is a product used for the latter.
They may also contain hormones (like phytoestrogens) or other “stimulants” to help with hormonal (or genetic) hair loss.
Some trichology societies also endorse certain brands or products. For instance, the Institute of Trichologists recommends Nioxin. Some of its products contain the vasodilator minoxidil, which is an FDA-approved drug for hair loss.
Hair Analysis and Trichologists: What To Expect?
To understand why you’re losing hair, your trichologist will ask you certain questions related to your:
- Diet – Checking your diet for alopecia caused by nutrition.
- Lifestyle – Sleeping habits, activity levels, smoking, and alcohol consumption.
- Stress levels – Checking for hair loss triggered by telogen effluvium.
- Haircare habits – Frequency of hair styling, dyeing, bleaching, types of hairstyles.
- Medical history – Checking for any acute or chronic illness.
- Family history – Checking for genetics-related alopecia.
During the initial consultation, they’ll perform a thorough physical examination of your scalp. Additionally, they may request blood and hormone tests to check for any abnormalities.
Trichologists cannot perform a biopsy – which can be needed for the diagnosis of certain hair loss types. If needed, you’ll be referred to a doctor.
The most appropriate treatment plan will be recommended after the examination and diagnosis.
How Does Someone Become A Trichologist?
Qualified trichologists have training and certifications from renowned institutes, such as the:
- Institute of Trichologists
- World Trichology Society (WTS)
- International Association of Trichologists
- The Trichological Society
Their training programs can differ from each other, but they’re usually 2-3 years long. And the good ones have separate academic and clinical training sections.
Following completion of these courses, students are also offered automatic memberships of the trichology societies.
For instance, the International Association of Trichologists (IAT) offers a full trichology certification course that includes the study of:
- Basic body systems
- Scalp and hair
- Microscopy (for diagnosis)
- Trichological practice, preparation and procedures
- Hair loss
- Electrotherapy (for treatment)
Additionally, a certified trichologist supervises the student’s clinical training for one year during or after the theoretical study. This is also followed by a written exam, after which they become IAT-certified trichologists.
Similarly, the Institute of Trichologists has its own distance learning course, which also includes clinical training. In this, the students are given a “Level Five Diploma in Clinical Trichology” after a study of 2.5 years.
World Trichology Society has its own advanced Trichology course as well.
You should, however, be wary of getting treatments from trichologists who don’t have certifications from renowned institutes.
Some handout certifications just after a week of study. While that makes them “certified,” they might not actually be helpful (or safe).
Remember, trichologists are not regulated by any government body. Anyone can call themselves a trichologist. So, be careful in your search for a trichologist.
How Much Does It Cost To See A Trichologist?
An initial consultation with a trichologist cost somewhere between £150-£200. It’s usually 45 to 60 minutes long.
Price can vary depending on the training and qualification of the trichologist and the location of the clinic.
This consult can include your history and physical examination. It can also include some diagnostic tests like microscopy. It is unlikely to include any blood tests, though.
Although they may be requested if required. In the end, you might be given a preliminary diagnosis.
The treatment session (electrotherapy, red light therapy, steam, etc.) can cost anywhere from £50 to £150. It can depend on what’s causing your hair loss.
Other than that, trichology clinics also offer follow-up appointments for £50 to £150. A treatment will, of course, cost you extra.
What Are the Differences Between Trichologists and Dermatologists?
The main difference between a trichologist and a dermatologist is that the latter is medically qualified.
A dermatologist is a specialist medical doctor who treats skin, hair and nail conditions. Trichologists, on the other hand, are hair specialists that only treat different hair and scalp diseases and disorders.
You don’t need to have a prior degree in medicine to become a trichologist. However, (good) certified trichologists have the necessary theoretical knowledge and clinical experience to offer their services.
Even dermatologists can study trichology separately and become “dermo-trichologists.”
Still, there are limits to what a trichologist can do (which can change from country to country). For instance, in the UK, they can’t prescribe medications or perform hair transplants. However, many trichologists in Turkey can perform hair transplants.
Another difference between the two is that dermatologists are on the National Health Service, while trichologists aren’t. The Institute of Trichologists, however, says that they’re working to change that with their Professional Standards Accreditation.
Because of their education and qualifications, the cost of visiting dermatologists and trichologists is also different. A private consultation with a dermatologist can be twice as expensive, costing around £300.
Here’s a summary of trichologist vs dermatologist:
|Study||Paramedical science of the hair and scalp||Branch of medicine that deals with skin conditions|
|What They Do||Diagnose and treat hair and scalp problems||Diagnose and manage/treat diseases of the skin, hair, and nails|
|NHS Availability||Unavailable (only privately)||Available (and also privately)|
|Qualifications||2-3 years of study for certification from a trichology institute||MBBS (5-6 years), Internal Medicine Training (2 years), membership of Royal College of Physicians, Speciality Training (4 years) and Specialty Certificate Examination in Dermatology|
|Scope of work||Diagnose and offer treatments (that don’t involve prescribing drugs or performing surgery)||Diagnose and offer medicinal, surgical and non-surgical treatments.|
|Cost||£150-200 for an initial consultation |
£50-£150 for treatments
|£300 for an initial consultation|
Cost depends on the type of treatment (can be up to tens of thousands of pounds)
What Are The Reasons To Consult A Trichologist?
Since certified trichologists have clinical training in diagnosing and treating scalp and hair problems, they can help you in stopping your hair loss.
According to the World Trichology Society, trichologists are often thought of as the bridges “between cosmetology and dermatology.”
An added benefit of consulting a trichologist is that it can be quicker and cheaper. The average wait time to see a dermatologist on the NHS is around 4 months. And the average wait time for treatment can be around 3 months.
You can see them privately, but that’ll cost you twice as much. In contrast, it can be quicker and cheaper to see a trichologist.
However, keep in mind that trichologists can also work with dermatologists and refer you to them.
How To Find a Good Trichologist?
To find a good trichologist, you should first ask about their certification. Of course, it needs to be from a reputable place that offers in-depth knowledge in its course.
To verify, you should look up the trichologist’s name in the online registers of the particular institution.
You can also read their online reviews to get a better idea of them. If possible, try talking to a previous patient of theirs, as they can also provide you with more information.
Trichologists are specialists in hair and scalp, so they can help you in the diagnosis and treatment of hair loss.
While their education and qualifications are different from dermatologists, they have relevant academic and clinical training to help you in any way they can.
Depending on where you live, there might be some limits to what a trichologist can do for you. However, they may be able to expand the scope of their services with additional training.
Therefore, if you’re experiencing hair or scalp-related problems, you can consult a certified and trained trichologist.
Reviewed and Approved by Dr Hassan Soueid
Is a trichologist covered by insurance?
Trichologists are unlikely to be covered by private medical insurance. They aren’t available on the NHS either.
Is it worth going to a trichologist?
Trichologists study the diseases and disorders of the hair and scalp, so it can be worth visiting them. Just make sure to find someone who’s certified by a reputable institute.
Is Trichology a part of dermatology?
Trichology is a paramedical science and is not a part of dermatology. Dermatologists who also want to become trichologists study trichology separately.
Can a trichologist stop hair loss?
It depends on the kind of hair loss you have. With accurate diagnosis and treatment, a trichologist can help stop your hair loss.
Can a GP refer you to a trichologist?
You don’t need a GP referral to see a trichologist. It’s a private service so you can make a private booking.