In the majority of cases in the UK trichologists are generally not medically qualified.  There are a handful of exceptions though.

The term Trichologist is not a protected term in the way a Doctor is. This means that it is possible for someone to call themselves a trichologist with no or minimal training.  For public safety it is important to understand the difference because a doctor is trained over many years to take a comprehensive medical history including how the problem evolved, associated symptoms, drug history, family history and social history.  The follow up questions asked and advice given are informed by that training.

Entry into the field of Trichology  has significantly different requirements to becoming a dermatologist as described above.   The entry criteria for training is significantly different.   E.g. The February 2019 prospectus of the Institute of Trichologists programme, the largest UK training provider,  the entry criteria states “Applicants should ideally be educated to ‘A’ level standard or higher and should have specific interests in scientific and health related subjects. The Institute of Trichologists may consider mature applicants who do not fully meet the educational entry requirements but who have gained significant relevant transferrable skills in the workplace and can demonstrate an aptitude for the profession.”  Entry is at the discretion of the board of governors.

In some countries  such as India where Trichology is mainly practised by dermatologists,  the difficulty for members of the public distinguishing between a dermatologist and non-medically qualified trichologist has been noted as a cause for concern.  In 2010 Dr Patrick Yesudian, a dermatologist practicing in India and founder of the Hair Research Society of India, proposed the term “dermatotrichologist” for board-certified dermatologists dealing with the scientific study of the hair and scalp in health and disease to distinguish them from the trichologist, who is not medically qualified and more involved with the cosmetic aspects of hair, or – worse – could offer opportunities to imposters with a primary commercial interest[1] rather than with medical professionalism.

A new term ‘trichiatrist’ was proposed, literally meaning the ‘medical treatment of the hair ‘ to designate the strictly medical professional dealing with the hair and scalp in health and disease.

In the UK Trichologists are not usually medically qualified, although members of the medical profession can undertake courses and/or careers in Trichology.  I understand that in the UK a handful of doctors have gone through training with the Institute of Trichologists, including myself.  At the moment in the UK, there are 4 main institutions providing training. These are:

  • The Institute of Trichologists. The Institute offers a two year distance learning and clinical practice course. From January 2021 a new introductory  6 month course will start which involves home study and an assessment www.trichologists.org.uk
  • The Trichological Society. The Society  provides distance learning trichology courses to dedicated students from medical and non-medical backgrounds. hairscientists.org
  • The International Association of Trichologists runs an online course which covers areas including hair loss, nutrition, chemistry etc. For further detail https://www.iattrichology.com/trichology-certificate-course
  • TrichoCare offers two courses in trichology:
    • Introduction to Trichology, a CPD course studied completely online.
    • Level 4 Certificate in Trichology for Hairdressers is a one year Ofqual Certified iTEC course studied through distance learning, clinical observation, practical and theory examination. www.trichocare.co.uk

Of all the training providers only the Trichocare coure is iTEC and Ofqual recognised.  None of the trichology qualifications are  accredited as degree level courses or recognised within  the National Health Service.

Compared to training to become a doctor, the amount of time taken in learning how to take a history and clinical examination is minimal.  Some courses include what they describe as ‘clinical’ training which usually involves administering trichological treatments.

[1] Yesudian P: Hair specialist, trichologist or dermato-trichologist? Int J Trichology 2010;2: 121.

Categories: Hair loss

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