2 of my esteemed collegues viz.Dr.Venkatram Mysore & Dr.Uday Khopkar have originally authored this article (Check if your trichologist is a doctor: Need for educating the public). God bless them for this !!
I am going to share with you the important for public information.
Many dermatologists have been approached by their patients with the question, "do you treat hair problems also?" as if only trichologists treat hair diseases and dermatologists do not treat hair diseases. Following these developments some dermatologists have even described themselves as "consultant dermatologist and trichologist'. This situation reflects the power of advertisement and propaganda on the one hand and the gullibility of the uninformed, unsuspecting public on the other. It also demonstrates perhaps, the limitation and lack of will on the part of us-, the professionals, to engage in efforts towards public health education. Trichology is defined as "the branch of medicine that deals with the scientific study of the health of hair and scalp. Trichologists themselves are not normally medically qualified although members of the medical profession can undertake courses and/or careers within trichology.
However, the fact that one does not need to be a doctor to become a trichologist and most trichologists are not qualified doctors is not common knowledge. In fact many of the trichology courses are distance learning packages, very different and far removed from the intensive clinical training of medical school. The Institute of Trichologists, which was founded in 1902, provides a two-year distance learning package backed by clinical observation. The International Association of Trichologists (IAT), a non-profit corporation, was established in 1974 to promote the study, research and legitimate practice in all aspects pertaining to the treatment and care of the human hair and scalp in health and disease and to supply comprehensive instruction and training in the professional application of this scientific specialty. A trichology course was developed at the University of Southern California during 1974-75.
The trichology courses were established at various centers including in the UK basically because there were too few dermatologists to take care of all the hair patients and because general practitioners did not have adequate knowledge of hair diseases to treat patients with hair problems Hence trichologists act as a useful bridge between patients, general practitioners (GP) and the dermatologists.
Trichologists are not cosmetologists, nor are they practitioners of alternative medicine. Trichologists are not medically qualified. They cannot issue prescription drugs. Since 1902 (when the profession was established), trichology primarily (but not exclusively) attracted hairdressers, in its initial years and hence the profession has been incorrectly labeled as part of that craft. However, the majority of the Trichological Society's current graduate trichologists are not hairdressers and 94% of its current student intake holds degrees in science subjects. There are also a few medical practitioners who have been certified as trichologists. Most of the certified trichologists in the UK practice trichology within the parameters stated above, but many of them work in hair cosmetic industry and wig manufacturing laboratories etc.
A trichologist helps people who have problems with their hair or scalp by careful questioning and microscopic examination of hair. The trichologist must then decide if treatment is necessary and whether the problem is within his or her realm to treat or should be dealt with by a medical doctor. Treatment by the trichologist might consist of the application of a particular cream or lotion to the scalp or the use of nutritional therapy and appropriate counseling. If it needs a prescription drug or a surgical procedure, he then refers the patient to a dermatologist or any other required specialty.
So it is obvious that trichologists are not doctors (unless they have acquired medical qualification as well) and hence do not treat hair problems with prescription drugs, which is the prerogative of the dermatologist. However, in the UK, they do perform a definite and useful role as a bridge between patient, GP and the dermatologist.
However, what has been happening in India in the last couple of years is very different. The advertisements in the Indian media appear to have projected an impression that only trichologists are the real experts to treat all hair diseases. Advertisements with misleading statements about how trichologists can help solve all hair problems appear repeatedly in the press. These trichologists have also advertised about trichoscans or hair scans. The scan is a dermoscopic examination of hair which can give some information about hair density and detect miniaturization of hairs. But these scans are projected as a magic tool to detect the cause of hair loss. Often unproven treatments are offered in the form of packages, costing several thousand Rupees.Obviously this issue concerns the dermatologists; after all dermatology includes trichology and dermatologists are trichologists too !!