In this information age, you’re likely to notice lots of commercials that advertise products for hair loss. Hair loss prevention is as popular as TikTok – minus the sweet dance moves.
It's great that people are learning that hair loss is treatable and that effective options are out there for most people. But many may not realize that the most effective treatment regimens are often unique to each person. How individuals respond to products and treatments can vary, and while hair care specialists have different levels of expertise, you need to know which doctor to see for hair loss – and which not to.
What Are the Types of Hair Care Specialists?
Many people don’t even think of seeking advice from a hair care specialist when they realize they have a real hair loss problem, but it’s important to know that experts are out there. Lots of them. Here’s what to know about the types of specialists and how they can help concerned clients.
Hairstylists are usually the first line of defense when it comes to hair issues. People who have long-standing relationships with their stylists feel comfortable speaking about hair issues or hair loss with someone they know and trust. This is especially true for women, who may spend meaningful amounts of time at the salon with their stylist.
A stylist is typically a great person to talk with about the general condition of your hair and scalp. Most licensed stylists are well-versed in hair care techniques, and they know the basic signs of hair and scalp issues. If you have a specific condition, look for a professional who knows how to style your hair so you look your best. Some stylists work specifically with alopecia areata, psoriasis, and other conditions, and they may have the precise expertise you’re after so you can feel confident about your look.
Trichology is a hair specialization that focuses on hair loss and scalp issues. A trichologist goes through a training program to receive certification to treat certain hair conditions. This is what might be covered in a typical appointment with a trichologist:
- Hair and scalp examination
- Hair strand analysis
- Serum or hair product recommendations
- Health review
- Nutrition information
Trichologists make referrals to physicians and dermatologists for conditions that require medical expertise. Trichologists are not doctors, and they can’t prescribe medications or typically perform medical procedures.
Will the Real Hair Loss Experts Please Stand Up?
We’re not trying to be overdramatic here, but there is an important difference between consulting with a hair care specialist and seeing a doctor for hair loss. Medical professionals have the medical training, expert knowledge, and state-of-the-art medical technologies to get at the root of the problem (pun totally intended). Dermatologists have practices that specialize in hair loss management and hair growth.
Primary care physicians usually have a basic knowledge of a patient’s overall health, which is a great start when diagnosing hair loss conditions. They have a medical history that can help them pinpoint diseases or medical issues that are hereditary, plus knowledge of a patient’s chronic health problems. They also track stress-related medical concerns, which can contribute to hair problems.
Physicians may prescribe medications for skin and hair conditions that contribute to hair loss as part of treatment progression. They may be familiar with the most common FDA-approved medications, too, many of which are quite effective in combatting hair loss.
But they also frequently refer patients to doctors within these areas of specialization. People who have extreme problems with their hair, skin or nails should consult a dermatologist.
Dermatologists are the hair growth experts for diagnosis and treatment. Think of your dermatologist as a detective solving a case, because hair loss issues are often a complex set of clues that must be assembled to get the correct answer. Doctors may not sport a frock coat and tweed cap, but they use all the tools of their trade to investigate your hair loss issues.
Dermatologists may offer personalized treatment plans and prescribe clinically proven supplements, and some may have the experience to use some medications off-label. These days, telehealth treatment programs allow you to work with the best clinicians to get the care you need from anywhere. The days of sitting in waiting rooms and standing in lines for prescriptions are over.
What Are the Reasons for Hair Loss?
It’s essential to know that hair loss is common. Most people shed 50 to 100 hairs each day. If your bathroom sink looks like a wookie lives nearby, don’t get too worried. There are periods of time you shed more hair; however, if large handfuls come loose or thinning is persistent, it’s time to consider a specialist. Here are some reasons hair falls out:
- **Hair care problems: **Hair is easily damaged from excessive styling, permanents, and coloring.
- **Health conditions: **Physical and emotional trauma and chronic illness can contribute hair loss.
- **Genetic issues: **Hereditary issues like pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia) appear as we age.
- **Medical conditions and treatments: **Medical treatments and drugs for cancer, heart disease, arthritis and mental health may have side effects such as hair loss.
Anxiety and stress trigger hair loss, and hair loss can trigger stress, so seek help if your comb has got you down.
How Do You Manage Hair Loss?
Taking care of your hair is as important as any other part of your body because it experiences trauma just like the rest of you. That’s right: Your hair follicles are alive and react to being treated well – or poorly. Here are some ways to manage hair loss:
- **Wash and condition with quality hair care products: **Avoid using shampoos that strip hair of nutrients. Use conditioner after shampooing. A detangler reduces split ends, breakage and frizz.
- **Limit heat from blow-dryers: **Use the lowest setting on your blow-dryer to avoid heat damage. When possible, let your hair air-dry.
- **Avoid home perms, colors, straighteners and relaxers: **Leave these services to professional stylists who know how to apply them correctly and advise whether your hair is healthy enough for certain treatments.
- **Stop pulling your hair back tightly: **Try not to wear hairstyles that pull hair at the roots. This can even lead to permanent hair loss.
- **Brush your hair with care: **Combing and brushing should be done gently. Rough brushing puts excess stress on the hair strands and loosens them at the root.
It’s important to maintain your overall well-being because emotional and physical factors are contributors to hair health as well.
Why Is It Important To Seek Hair Loss Treatment From a Specialist?
Finding the reason for hair loss and treating the condition takes time. Many hair loss conditions require medical care. While specialists can provide helpful insights, dermatologists will be the best-equipped specialists to understand the health factors that may complicate your condition, then provide you with proper treatment. Using products without the benefit of medical expertise could worsen hair loss and skin conditions. A licensed specialist will carefully examine and advise treatment protocols unique to your situation.
That’s part of what we do at Shapiro MD. Our telehealth treatment platform brings the clinician to you, from the comfort of your home. The process starts with a hair quiz, then your clinician can prescribe custom formulations for your condition, if appropriate, all without you leaving the house. They’re shipped to your door, and once your solutions arrive, you receive ongoing support through our Member Portal, with access to your clinician when needed.
It’s fast, easy, and affordable. Shapiro MD is your hair care specialist from anywhere. Click here to get started with our free online consultation.