ENDOCRINOLOGIST OR DERMATOLOGIST FOR HAIR LOSS?

Question: Should women see an endocrinologist or dermatologist for hair loss?

ANSWER:

For most women, either is fine. Some endocrinologists have an interest in the sub specialization field of hair loss. In general, dermatologists receive far more training about hair loss during their residency training programs (i.e. before they become certified dermatologists). However, not all dermatologists accept patients with hair loss.  In order for an endocrinologist to become well rounded in hair loss diagnosis and treatment, additional study (formal or informal) beyond the residency training will be needed.  In contrast, most dermatologists have a solid general knowledge about dozens and dozens of hair loss conditions in order to become certified. 

A dermatologist or endocrinologist has the skills to recognize and treat genetic hair loss. An endocrinologist is better equipped to evaluate men and women with early onset genetic hair loss and women with hair loss that is associated with irregular periods, acne or increased hair on the face. These women often have a hormonal cause for their hair loss. However, without advanced training, most endocrinologists will not have had training in the diagnosis and treatment of scarring alopecias (lichen planopiliaris, folliculitis decalvans, frontal fibrosing alopecia), chronic telogen effluvium, nor exposure to the surgical management of hair loss (hair transplantation).

Starting with either is fine. A wise dermatologist will refer a patient to an endocrinologist if something seems 'not quite right' and a hormonal contribution to the diagnosis is considered. A wise endocrinologist will refer a patient to a dermatologist if the cause of hair loss seems beyond typical reasons for hair loss (i.e. a possible scarring alopecia and autoimmune condition).

 




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