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A trichologist helps people who have problems with their hair and scalp. One of the problems trichologists help with is hair loss. IAT certified trichologist David Salinger says, “Hair loss can relate to hormonal imbalances, autoimmune problems, nutritional deficiencies, genetics, and physiological or psychological stress.” This is why a trichologist has to look at more than just the hair and scalp to give a proper diagnosis. Many times a trichologist will ask you specific questions about your diet, lifestyle, genetics, nutrition, and medical history before he or she can determine what your problem is.

Signs you need to see a trichologist

Salinger says the following are all signs that warrant a trip to a qualified trichologist.

  • Excessive hair loss
  • Hair breakage
  • A patch of hair loss
  • Excessive facial hair for women
  • Loss of eyebrows or eye lashes
  • Hair thinning
  • Patches of scale

Symptoms such as ‘burning’ of the scalp or an itchy scalp would also fall within the expertise of a trichologist.

Other signs

  • Excessive oiliness or dryness of the scalp
  • Excessive hair breakage after a chemical service
  • Chronic dandruff
  • Seborrhea dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Trichotillomania 
  • Excessive body hair for men
  • Use of medications frequently

Questions

  • Have you been diagnosed as anemic?
  • Do you have a problem that causes malabsorption? (Malabsorption is the body’s inability to absorb nutrients.)
  • Do you have a thyroid imbalance?
  • Do you partake in crash diets?
  • Have you been diagnosed as hyperglycemic or hypoglycemic?

It is important to understand that hair loss can be triggered by more than one problem. It can take time to pinpoint what may be causing your problem and you may need a combination of different therapies to treat it. The best defense against hair loss is early detection.

What are the steps involved in a trichology consultation?

Trichology consultations can vary depending on the trichologist’s experience and educational training. If a person is trained by The International Association of Trichologist, he or she gets to use the IAT Certified Trichologist in front their name once they have passed their clinical training and final exam. We are taught to stay within the scope of our trichology training and learn to recommend a specific doctor or specialist when it is appropriate.

  1. You will be asked a series of questions about your health, lifestyle, family history, and hairstyling practices. Questions are also asked depending on your overall complaint. 
  2. The trichologist will analyze your hair and scalp. Sometimes the naked eye can be used to diagnose the problem. Other times, a digital microscope is used to examine the hair and scalp in more detail. Trichologist look for inflammation, patterns of hair loss, redness, dryness, oiliness, density of hair, color of the scalp, destroyed follicles, or brittle hair in order to come up with a conclusion. Trichologist can perform what is called a hair pull test. A hair pull test is when a trichologist gently pulls at your hair to determine if there is an excessive amount of hair loss. Losing one to three hairs during the hair pull test is normal. A trichologist may also examine lost hair under a microscope to see what stage of hair growth your hair is falling in. They can examine the shape and color of the hair bulb to determine specific types of hair loss.
  3. The trichologist will give you an analysis, recommend possible treatments, or refer you to another specialist or doctor.

How do you find a qualified trichologist?

Finding a qualified trichologist takes some research. You can look up reviews or ask friends, family, or coworker if they know a qualified trichologist.  Don’t be afraid to ask a trichologist about their educational background and proof of certification.

Read more: Trichology: Study of the Hair and Scalp 

Writer Sophia Emmanuel is a licensed cosmetologist and certified IAT trichologist.