The Complete Guide To Seeing A Dermatologist In Singapore (2019)

The Complete Guide To Seeing A Dermatologist In Singapore (2019) undefined

I'm writing this post because "recommend me a good dermatologist in Singapore" is one of the questions I'm most often asked by friends -  Now I can just direct them to this post.

A dermatologist is a medical doctor with specialist training who treats diseases of the nails, hair, and skin. In Singapore, dermatology is considered a medical specialty, and only doctors certified as dermatologists by the Ministry of Health are recognised as such. 

Conditions such as skin cancers, hair thinning and loss, eczema, skin fungal and bacterial infections, and skin allergies are commonly seen by dermatologists. 

I figured I'd help everyone looking for a dermatologist out by explaining in detail how to find a suitable dermatologist for your condition and treatment needs in Singapore.

Training to be a dermatologist in Singapore

 

doctor speaking to a lady patient

First, a bit of context. In Singapore, training to become a dermatology specialist requires an additional 6 years after completing med school - this comprises:

  • 3 years of internal medicine training
  • 3 years of advanced specialist training in dermatology

Almost every dermatologist in Singapore will have spent a significant amount of time at the National Skin Centre as part of their training. Others are rotated across various teaching hospitals, such as SGH, NUH, and CGH.

At the end of 6 years, they exit the training programme as an associate consultant. [1]

The private versus public dermatologist route in Singapore

Dermatologist Singapore National Skin Centre

As with most medical specialties in Singapore, the tradeoff between choosing the public and private route is primarily one of time and convenience, versus costs.

It's always quicker seeing a dermatologist in private practice - clinic front desks are normally happy to give you an appointment within 1 to 2 days. Most accept walk in patients too.

On the other hand, the wait time to see a dermatologist under subsidised care at the National Skin Centre (NSC) can take up to 4 - 6 weeks, and they do not accept walk ins. [2]

Of course, you also have the option to see a NSC dermatologist via the unsubsidised "private route". This allows you to:

  • Choose and follow up with the same dermatologist
  • Get a quicker appointment date

Pro tip: If you decide to see a dermatologist for a skin rash via the public route, it'd help to take a photo of your rash :-) I can't count the number of times I've seen a patient who had perfectly normal-looking skin by the time they showed up fourweeks later. Unfortunately, doctors aren't mind-readers!

How much does it cost to see a dermatologist in Singapore?

piggy bank and coins

Private dermatologists typically charge about $120 - $140 for a first consultation.

Medications will typically add on another $150 - $300 in total to your final bill.

At the NSC, the subsidised rates for seeing a dermatologist are as follows:

ConsultationSingapore CitizenSingapore PR
First Consultation$36.00$54.00
Follow-up Consultation$34 .00$51.00

Even if you go as a new patient via a polyclinic referral, rest assured that a consultant will still be seeing you on your first visit. However, you'll usually first be seen by a Medical Officer beforehand (it is a teaching hospital, after all).

If you chose to see a dermatologist at the NSC via the private route, the rates are adjusted according to the seniority of the doctor:

First ConsultationResidentNon Resident
Senior Consultant$121.00$139.14
Consultant$110.00$126.50
Assoc Consultant$97.00$111.55
Follow-up Consultation  
Senior Consultant$90.00$103.50
Consultant$79.00$90.84
Assoc Consultant$68.00$78.20

How much does it cost to see a dermatologist for skin procedures in Singapore? 

a woman looking at her face in a mirror

Skin procedures are costly in Singapore because they are almost always deemed to be cosmetic, and hence not eligible for any subsidies or Medisave claims. Multiple treatment sessions are also frequently required for the best results, which means that your bill can quickly add up.

For cosmetic skin procedures, there are minimal differences in costs between going to see a public dermatologist, or one in private practice. Examples would include:

  • Fractional lasers for acne scars
  • Chemical peels
  • Mole removal (for cosmetic purposes)
  • Pigmentation, melasma, and birthmark removal

You can refer to this article on aesthetic treatment and costs in Singapore to get a better idea of the average price ranges.

Certain skin procedures at the NSC may be eligible for subsidies or Medisave Claims if there is a medical need. One example would be a suspicious mole that needs to be removed and sent for a biopsy to rule out cancer.

Unfortunately, this is 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.

How do you get a subsidy for seeing a dermatologist in Singapore?

doctor taking notes on clipboard 

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/camp

Patients who do NOT qualify for any subsidies at the NSC include:

  • All foreigners
  • Those referred to see a specific dermatologist
  • Referrals made by a private doctor or private hospital

Common skin conditions (such as eczema, skin allergies, and acne) can be adequately managed by polyclinic GPs at nominal fees. Polyclinics also stock most of the medications given for these conditions. [3]

However, if your skin condition is not responding to treatment, or if they deem it necessary, polyclinic doctors will refer you on to see a dermatologist at the National Skin Centre. The National Skin Centre and private dermatologists generally offer a much wider range of treatment modalities and medications for various skin conditions.

What are the types of dermatologists in Singapore?

This is perhaps a gross oversimplification, but there are 2 main "types" of dermatologists in Singapore:

1. Dermatologists with a focus or interest in medical dermatology. They are vastly experienced at diagnosing and managing skin disease such as:

  • Skin cancers
  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Paediatric dermatology
  • Psoriasis
  • Autoimmune skin conditions
  • Skin allergies
  • Hair loss
  • Nail disorders

2. Cosmetic dermatologists. These are dermatologists who focus mainly on providing aesthetic skin treatments, such as:

  • Lasers
  • Botox/fillers
  • Threadlifts

As a rule of thumb, dermatologists at the National Skin Centre generally belong to the first category. However, there are senior dermatologists at the National Skin Centre who also provide cosmetic dermatology services via the private Procedure Suites section of the hospital.

On the other hand, private dermatologists usually provide some degree of overlap in services - ie they see medical dermatology patients, and provide cosmetic skin treatment.

Not many Singaporeans know this, but dermatologists in Singapore are also trained to diagnose and manage sexually transmitted disease (STDs) - the DSC Clinic (Department of STI Control) is fully staffed, and run by dermatologists.

Just in case you were wondering as to the link between dermatologists and STDs, it's because many STDs commonly present with skin rashes as one of the first signs (eg. genital warts, HIV, and syphilis). [4]

How can you find a good dermatologist in Singapore for your needs?

acne on a young womans face

First of all, you may want to find out whether the doctor you're considering is indeed a dermatology specialist. It is easy to check their specialist status on this website.

Some doctors possess a Diploma in Dermatology - this is not the same as a specialist qualification, which requires a much longer training period.

As explained earlier, other factors to take into consideration are:

  • Time/convenience versus cost (public vs private route)
  • Purpose (medical vs cosmetic dermatology)
  • Type of skin procedure required (some clinics do not offer specific types of treatment or machines)

 

lady doing online research in her living room

With this information in hand, you can then call the practice directly to enquire about the treatment you desire.

At your consultation, do see if you are able to form a good rapport with the dermatologist. Ultimately, I feel that the key factor in receiving the best treatment is in finding a doctor whom you can trust, and are able to communicate well with.

I have probably rambled on a little too long by now, but I hope that this post has at least provided you with an overview to the process of finding, and seeing a good dermatologist in Singapore.

References:

1. http://www.healthprofessionals.gov.sg/sab/specialist-training/residency-training-programmes

2. https://www.nsc.com.sg/Patient-Guide/Patient-Information/Pages/Consultation-Fees.aspx

3. https://www.sgh.com.sg/patient-care/visiting-specialist

4. https://www.dsc-clinic.sg/Patient-Care/DSC%20Services/Pages/Services-Overview.aspx

66424 views 2 Jan 2018 Medically reviewed by DxD on 2 May 2019.
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Disclaimer: Any answers provided are for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment.

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