Picture this – you’re exasperated in the middle of the pharmacy aisle, comparing different drugstore skincare products but not sure which to choose. Your skin has been giving you a ton of trouble, and nothing you’re buying seems to work.
This was me a couple years ago. Fortunately though, it doesn’t have to be like that forever. Seeing a dermatologist can be a great way to treat your skin, and unlike what many may think, seeking professional help doesn’t need to be overly expensive or intimidating.
The best place to start is at the National Skin Centre. Here, we cover everything you need to know from getting a referral and arranging an appointment, to services offered and their costs.
Unlike what some may think, the services offered by the National Skin Centre extend far beyond just basic dermatological consultations – they offer a wide range of laboratory and pharmaceutical services as well. We won’t bog you down with the cheem medical terms, just know that anything you could possibly need when it comes to skin health, they can do.
Some common misconceptions about the National Skin Centre are that there is a difference between the services offered there and at private clinics, that treatment is expensive, and that the dermatologists there only treat serious skin conditions. In reality though, none of these are exactly true.
The National Skin Centre treats common conditions like acne, as well as more serious skin issues such as rosacea and eczema.
It isn’t that much different from private care in terms of services offered, going through similar diagnosis and treatment prescription stages. But unlike private clinic consultations – which can cost several hundred dollars per visit – the services and medication at the National Skin Centre are subsidised by the government, making them far more affordable.
There are 2 main ways of getting an appointment at the National Skin Centre: directly and through polyclinic referral. The main difference is that going through referral makes you eligible for government subsidies thereafter, while going directly disqualifies you.
Going direct is simple – just make an appointment online through the National Skin Centre website. Doing so offers the benefit of convenience by eliminating the initial trips to the polyclinic to obtain a referral letter. However, it comes at the (literal) cost of disqualifying you from any government subsidies for the duration of your time as a direct patient.
To qualify for government subsidies you must first meet 2 requirements: you must be a Singapore citizen or permanent resident, and you must be referred to the National Skin Centre by a polyclinic.
Getting an appointment through a polyclinic referral is a little more hassle, but many find it to be worth the trouble in the long run. For reference, consultation fees for a referral patient are $38 per session, but $148 for a direct patient.
Referral appointments can be made over the phone by calling the polyclinic closest to you, or online through the HealthHub website. Polyclinic appointment slots for phone and online bookings are released at 8am on the morning itself and 10pm the night before respectively.
Polyclinic walk-ins are discouraged to minimise waiting time. The waiting time for a National Skin Centre appointment once you’ve been referred varies anywhere from a couple weeks to a month.
Appointment details are finalised at the time of referral, and the National Skin Centre sends out text reminders in advance which is great for those of us who tend to be more forgetful. Once you’ve made your appointment, here’s what you can expect.
Upon reaching the National Skin Centre, check in with the staff who will give you directions on which specific clinic to head to. Make it a point to arrive early, to avoid missing your slot and having to wait to rejoin the queue. Waiting time for your turn is typically not more than 10 minutes from the stipulated appointment time.
The consultation process is fairly simple, and not any different from what you would expect at the doctor or dentist’s office. Do note that unlike private care though, your dermatologist will likely change with every visit. But not to worry, all your information will be on file for the dermatologist on duty to access.
Articulate your concerns to the dermatologists and they will take it from there. They’ll also perform any necessary tests, and do up a prescription.
Your next appointment will be arranged at the reception counter inside the clinic once you are done with your consultation. If you don’t have a prescription to collect, this is also the point where you’ll make payment.
Otherwise, proceed to the pharmacy to collect your prescription. Depending on the time of day, you may need to wait up to an hour for it to be ready for collection.
Costs can vary significantly depending on the type of medication you’re prescribed. What is standard, however, is the cost of the polyclinic visit and the cost of National Skin Centre consultations.
The polyclinic visit will set you back $14 for citizens and $32.70 for permanent residents. Once you’ve gotten a referral, consultations at the National Skin Centre will cost citizens and PRs $38 or $57 respectively.
Note that the National Skin Centre sees patients on an appointment-only basis. Patients may only come in without a prior appointment if they require urgent medical attention – more information can be found here under “Urgent cases without appointment”.
Taking the steps to fix your skin can be an incredibly lengthy – and costly – process. Don’t be discouraged though, be comforted by the fact that you’re in good hands and trust the process. It may take time, but I think you’ll find that it’s worth it.
Address: 1 Mandalay Road, Singapore 308205
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 8am-5pm (Closed on weekends)
For more skincare related content, check out:
Cover image adapted from: World Orgs, National Skin Centre
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