While you likely know that a dermatologist is the best medical specialist to visit when you are having problems with your skin, you may not realize that dermatologists are also very skilled in treating scalp, nail, and even hair problems. While your primary care physician may volunteer to help you take care of some of these issues, the advanced training and extensive experience dermatologists have in treating hair, nail, and scalp problems means that they can often find solutions to tackle your problems when your primary care physician has run out of options or cannot find the cause.
Here are two common, annoying hair and nail problems you may be dealing with and how a dermatologist can help you fix them quickly and easily.
1. Hair Loss in Women Not Caused by Medical Conditions or Dietary Deficiencies
If you are a woman and have sudden hair loss or thinning, then it is first important to have your primary care physician ensure it is not caused by a major medical problem, such as hypothyroidism, or dietary deficiencies. If these tests come back showing you have no medical problem that is causing the hair loss, then don't just then accept it as a "normal part of aging" or something you just have to live with, like many people do. Your dermatologist can help you find the cause of the hair loss and a treatment to halt it or even reverse it. Here are three causes of hair loss in women and how your dermatologist can treat them.
If other women or even men in your family have experienced dramatic hair-thinning at any time in their lives, then that is a sign that you may have female-pattern hair loss. This is the most common cause of hair loss in women, and there are treatments that can not only halt the progression of it, but also give you your healthy, full head of hair back. The name of the condition can be a bit misleading, because women with this condition often experience thinning of their hair and no patches of missing hair. This hair loss or thinning is caused by hairs falling out too quickly due to a shortened grow cycle, and it easily treatable with a minoxidil scalp treatment that can lengthen this cycle and keep hairs on your head, where they should be.
However, other women develop hair loss due to excessive production of male hormones in their bodies, called hyperandrogism. Your dermatologist may order hormonal tests to see if your body is producing too much androgen, and if it is, he or she can get this cause of hair loss under control with a medication called aldolactone. If your hair loss is accompanied by acne around your jawline, which is another common problem when your body is producing too much androgen, then this medication can also help diminish the acne while it makes your hair fuller.
Ciatrical alopecia may be the cause of your hair loss if your scalp also feels red or irritated. This type of alopecia has many potential causes, and one can be an inflammatory skin condition that is treatable with topical and/or oral cortisterioids. While this more rare cause of hair thinning in women is not able to be reversed completely, treatment can keep you from losing more hair than you have already lost.
2. Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus is an annoying, uncomfortable problem that as many as 14% of Americans of all ages and as many as 40-percent of people over the age of 60 face. While fingernails can also develop fungal infections, they are more common on toenails, because socks and shoes often create a warm, moist breeding ground for the fungus to thrive. Many people try home remedies that fail before speaking to their doctors about the problem, but it is important to visit a dermatologist when you see the first signs of this infection, because without proper treatment, it will just continue to become worse and change from just an annoyance to a very painful condition.
Treatment is also much easier when the condition first begins, and when very mild, a topical anti-fungal "paint" can often get it under control. However, if you are dealing with a severe case, don't worry, because there are new treatments that can get rid of it much more quickly in the past with fewer side effects. Traditional treatment for severe toenail fungus that a primary care physician is likely to prescribe is a combination of oral anti-fungal pills and a topical treatment. However, dermatologists have developed a new method to treat it with a YAG laser.
To kill the existing fungus on your nails, your dermatologist will have you come in for a laser treatment on a bi-weekly or monthly basis for just a few sessions. Since everyone is different, your doctor will choose the timeline that is best for your degree of fungal infection and will decide when it is under control and the sessions are completed. Once the existing fungus on your nails is dead, the treatment is over and you then just wait for your new nail growth that will be fungus-free. It is important to follow good foot-health hygiene after the treatments, including changing your socks often, making sure you wear clean and dry shoes, and letting your feet get some air when you can to keep the infection from returning.
If you have toenail fungus or are a woman losing your hair, then realize that a dermatologist can help you get these problems under control, even if past treatments failed. Dermatologists have advanced training in hair and nail treatments that many primary care physicians don't, and they are often the first to begin prescribing new medications and using new techniques to treat the problems. You can discover more here about your options.