Do you remember going through BMT and having that first botak shave of your life?
It was probably one of the most awkward moments in many a recruit’s life.
But it’s OK because everyone else looked the same.
But what happens if you’re the only one losing hair among your peers?
When hair loss becomes alarming, it is known as alopecia.
Although it is not very noticeable, between 50 and 100 hairs fall out every day, gradually growing back. For every 100 hairs we have, 12-15% are in the replacement phase, so it takes about four years to renew our hair completely.
However, some people may suffer greater hair loss or decreased hair density; alopecia is generated alarmingly if the hair falls out.
Alopecia is hair loss, usually on the head, in a general or localised way, temporary or permanent. This hair loss can also be localised in the eyebrows, eyelashes and beard.
The causes are diverse; genetic factors, medications, skin infections, trauma, nutritional deficiencies and certain skin or general diseases. Sometimes there are scars on the skin that prevent the growth of the hair follicle.
To make a prognosis is important to know that there are two groups within alopecia:
Non-scarring alopecias. These are potentially reversible and include:
· Androgenetic alopecia: known as premature or common baldness. There are two patterns of involvement, male and female, with the male pattern being more common with 95% prevalence. Heredity and genetics influence it.
· Alopecia areata: This is the second most common. Its exact cause is unknown, but it is related to stress and hormonal problems. It causes the typical “round patches” of unpopulated hair on the scalp.
· Traumatic alopecia: includes those caused by physical trauma, such as traction, pressure, or trichotillomania.
· Diffuse alopecia: comprises hair loss occurring 2 to 4 months after a triggering factor. Examples: childbirth, fever, stress.
Scarring alopecia. It is usually irreversible because there is damage, malformation, or total rupture of the follicular structure.
What can a dermatologist do?
A dermatologist can provide a complete evaluation, an accurate diagnosis and a definitive, specialised and accurate treatment.
Dermatologists are the only specialists that can be trained in trichology, a branch dedicated solely to studying hair. The dermatologist can even use trichoscopy to visualise your scalp and give an analysis on what’s happening.
When to see a dermatologist
There are situations where seeing a dermatologist is highly recommended.
Atypical hair loss
If the cause of your hair loss is hard to discern, then a dermatologist might suit your needs better.
Hair loss can be caused by many factors, although most men lose hair because of typical male pattern hair loss.
If you don’t have the typical symptoms of male pattern hair loss, but you are still losing hair, then it might be worth chatting with a specialist.
Sudden hair loss
If you are losing hair all of a sudden, especially if it is limited to isolated patches on your head, then it could be an autoimmune issue which requires urgent steroid injections. A specialist would be able to advise.
Your GP or SIRE doctors recommends a further consultation
If you have tried multiple solutions and you have not seen satisfactory results, you might have to go further with a dermatologist.
Typically, upon diagnosing male pattern baldness, SIRE would prescribe finasteride as a solution and if you don’t see results within a reasonable timeline, our doctors would refer you to a specialist.
If you are a first time user of finasteride, a typical timeline to see improvement is after the 6th month’s mark and up to a year.
Specialists generally have advanced techniques such as laser therapy, dermal rollers and injections such as Regenera Activa.
If your hair loss is more severe, you may be required to consider semi-permanent solutions such as hair transplant.
What to expect when reaching out to a dermatologist for hair loss treatment
Fundamentally, visiting a dermatologist is not different from visiting a regular clinic with a few exceptions.
For one, dermatologists are generally clustered around medical centres in Singapore, such as Paragon Medical Centre, Novena Medical Centre and Mount Elizabeth Hospital. There might be a few scattered in the heartlands.
You could walk in, but that might cause you to have an extremely long wait. Typically, you would book an appointment.
After registration, you would get to spend a while seeing the products that are available in the clinic, through brochures, posters and displayed shampoos and supplements
Next, is to speak to the doctor, who will explore your concerns and objectives, and a clinical examination is normally performed. If you agree for a treatment, some clinics will offer a photo taking session, to help track your progress.
Should I visit a dermatologist or SIRE?
Both a dermatologist and SIRE can assist you in solving your hair loss.
SIRE is particularly suited for men who want a doctor’s opinion for only $10 who can treat simple causes of hair loss such as seborrheic dermatitis (using shampoos) or typical male pattern hair loss.
Our process is convenient as you receive consultations in the comfort of your home and you can subscribe to medication; thereby saving time from going to a doctor’s office for a refill.
Because our process is simple, we get to pass on the savings to you. Our prices for hair loss medication is one of the lowest in Singapore and perfect for people who want to try prescription medications, or already know what they need.
Finally, if our doctors feel your hair loss needs an examination from a specialist, we can refer you to someone who can further examine the situation.