Whether you’re dealing with acne or eczema, skin problems are probably something most – if not all – of us deal with at some point in our lives. But in the last couple of years, there’s been a rise in cases of inflammatory skin conditions such as maskne and contact dermatitis due to the pandemic.
So, it only makes sense that many are searching for a good dermatologist in Singapore to resolve these prevailing skin ailments. To help you take the guesswork out, Daily Vanity has put together a comprehensive guide that we’re certain will be helpful to you.
Keep reading to equip yourself with all you need to know about finding a dermatologist in Singapore for your skin needs.
- What is a dermatologist?
- Finding a good dermatologist in Singapore
- How many types of dermatologists are there?
- How do dermatologists differ from general practitioners (GP) and aesthetic doctors?
- When do I see a dermatologist for skin issues related to acne or eczema versus visiting the GP or aesthetic doctor?
- Does it make a big difference when you see a dermatologist in the private sector versus the public?
- How much does it cost to see a dermatologist in Singapore?
- Is it possible to get a subsidy for seeing a dermatologist?
- Do dermatologists in Singapore treat hair loss?
What is a dermatologist?
When we talk about dermatologists, we’re really referring to qualified doctors who specialise in the treatment of conditions pertaining to the largest organ of a human body, skin, as well as hair and nails.
Often referred to as a skin doctor or skin specialist, a dermatologist is capable of identifying and prescribing treatment for over 3,000 types of skin conditions, ranging from common issues like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea to even skin cancer.
In recent times, many dermatologists in Singapore have reported seeing patients with skin problems that are triggered by prolonged maskwear such as maskne and contact dermatitis.
Finding a good dermatologist in Singapore
While credible reviews from real patients are helpful, we can’t stress enough the importance of doing your research beforehand to determine a dermatologist’s medical background and practical experience before you make an appointment.
First and foremost, you ought to know that a dermatologist in Singapore needs to complete six years of extensive training in dermatology after medical school to be deemed a legitimate skin specialist.
This includes completing three years of training in internal medicine and another three years of advanced specialist training.
In Singapore, most dermatologists in training will spend their time learning the ropes at the National Skin Centre (NSC) as well as training hospitals like the Singapore General Hospital and the National University Hospital.
After six years of training, dermatologists usually start off as associate consultants in dermatology. before moving on to become full-fledged consultants about a year later. However, it takes another five years from that point before they can become senior consultants in a public institution.
On the other hand, dermatologists in the private sector do not hold the senior consultant title. Instead, they remain consultants at public hospitals to build up experience for their own private practice.
To check your dermatologist’s year of certification, you can make use of Singapore Medical Council’s doctor directory, which offers free public access.
Our advice? Always make sure that your dermatologist is fully accredited by Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH).
How many types of dermatologists are there?
Generally speaking, dermatologists in Singapore come in two main categories.
The first includes those who have a focus on medical dermatology, which means they are well-versed in diagnosing, analysing, and treating a variety of skin conditions and diseases. This includes but is not limited to:
- Acne (all forms, including cystic acne)
- Seborrheic dermatitis
- Allergic reactions
- Autoimmune disorders
- Cradle cap and other skin conditions in infants and children
- Fungal infections on the skin, scalp, and nails
The second category consists of cosmetic dermatologists who specialise in lasers, thread lifts, and common aesthetic procedures such as Botox and dermal fillers.
How do dermatologists differ from general practitioners (GP) and aesthetic doctors?
To put it simply, general practitioners (GPs) at polyclinics or private clinics do not specialise in dermatology and have limited access to topical creams and treatments for skin conditions like acne and eczema. Hence, they are only able to prescribe antibiotics or, at most, corticosteroid creams.
On the other hand, dermatologists have wider access to topical creams like retinoids, laser treatments as well as medication such as Roaccutane for severe skin conditions like cystic acne.
Meanwhile, aesthetic doctors tend to have state-of-the-art technological equipment and procedures for scars and other skin conditions. This also means that you will need to shell out more money since aesthetic doctors typically charge a steeper fee than GPs and dermatologists.
When do I see a dermatologist for skin issues related to acne or eczema versus visiting the GP or aesthetic doctor?
If you’re considering further treatment options for your acne or to treat your acne scars, you may want to look for a dermatologist instead. That’s because GPs generally do not treat acne scars.
You also have the option of seeing aesthetic doctors to address acne scarring as they tend to have the most expensive and latest options for acne and acne scar treatment. Having said that, the latest or most advanced equipment does not necessarily mean it’s the most effective for your skin needs so be sure you do your research beforehand.
Additionally, GPs are very proficient at handling mild to moderate eczema cases, but it’s best to go directly to a dermatologist if you’re dealing with a more severe case of eczema for more advanced treatment options.
Ultimately, it all depends on your own specific skin needs and preferences, so it’s important to research thoroughly before you go for it.
Does it make a big difference when you see a dermatologist in the private sector versus the public?
Essentially, there are three key differences between seeing a dermatologist in the private and public sectors: cost (which we will cover in the next section), time, and convenience. In terms of time and convenience, it is easier to get an appointment with dermatologists in private practice.
In fact, many of them are willing to accept walk-ins and appointments at short notice. This makes it convenient for those who have a pressing skin condition and don’t feel comfortable waiting for a long time to get it checked.
On the other hand, dermatologists in the public sector and those under the subsidy of NSC do not accept walk-ins – some may even require a waiting time of up to six weeks, a duration which is long enough for certain skin conditions to improve on their own.
Therefore, a good tip to keep in mind if you want to take the public route is to snap pictures of your skin condition at its worst so you can share it with your dermatologist upon your visit.
How much does it cost to see a dermatologist in Singapore?
This is probably the burning question on everyone’s mind: Is it expensive to see a dermatologist in Singapore?
It goes without saying that dermatologists in private practice will charge a much higher rate than those in the public sector. For example, a private dermatologist can charge up to S$140 for the initial consultation. This does not include medication, which can be an additional cost of up to S$300 on your total bill.
On the contrary, the cost of seeing a dermatologist in the public sector is more pocket-friendly. Generally, the subsidised rates at NSC are S$36 for the initial consultation and S$34 for a follow-up checkup but you’d have to be eligible for such rates (more on that coming up).
However, NSC is a training hospital so do keep in mind that most first consultations in the public sector are done by a Medical Officer in training. Plus, there are also other factors that contribute to the total cost of your bill, including follow-up treatments and the type of procedures you are prescribed.
Is it possible to get a subsidy for seeing a dermatologist?
If you go to NSC, certain skin procedures may be eligible for subsidies or claims under Singapore’s national medical savings scheme (MediSave).
The caveat? Your skin condition must have a medical need to be treated by a dermatologist. One example would be a suspicious mole that needs to be removed and sent for a biopsy to rule out cancer.
However, this is largely determined on a case by case basis – the dermatologist you consult will decide if there is a medical need for you to undergo the procedure.
To qualify for subsidised care to see a dermatologist, you need to:
- Be a Singaporean or a Permanent Resident (holding a Singapore NRIC); and
- Obtain a referral letter from a polyclinic, or from an SAF medical officer or camp.
If you are a foreigner or have been referred to see a specific dermatologist, you will not qualify for any subsidies at the NSC.
Subsidies will also not be extended to referrals made by a private doctor or private hospital as well as those with common skin conditions that can be adequately managed by polyclinic GPs for a nominal fee.
Most skin treatments are typically cosmetic or aesthetic in nature too, so many of them not usually eligible for a subsidy.
If you make a walk-in appointment at the NSC without a referral letter from a polyclinic, you’ll be charged as a private patient and end up paying a whole lot more.
Do dermatologists in Singapore treat hair loss?
Yes, all dermatologists in Singapore can potentially diagnose and treat hair loss.
However, not all dermatologists provide hair transplant treatment as this requires a team of trained hair transplant technicians.
To be sure, just call up the dermatology clinic beforehand to check!