Dermatologist Dr. Rutsnei Schmitz from Danat Al Emarat Hospital Abu Dhabi on female hair loss and treating scars

Team Yalla finds out how dermatology is used to treat more than just moles and skin conditions.

What was it that interested you to enter into the field of dermatology?


When I was in my fourth year of medical school, I had a skin issue that myself, my colleagues or teachers were unable to solve. I eventually consulted a dermatologist who just gave me a quick checkup and knew what the problem was immediately. It was this incident that sparked my curiosity.


A lot of women complain about hair loss, but how common is this condition in women?


Everybody suffers from hair loss, losing around 20 per cent of our hair. So normally people would notice hair loss when they are showering, for example, or even brushing their hair. However, it is alarming if you were to witness more significant hair loss, such as 100-150 strands of hair falling out though the day. In this case, you are more likely to find hair on your pillow rather than in the shower. Hair density is important too and something that you should observe.


But isn’t hair loss and thinning hair something to expect as one ages?


Good question. But it’s not just linked to age. For example, in menopausal women, hormonal balances change significantly and male hormones that women also have and which were previously blocked by female hormones actually become more prominent as the balance shifts. This is normally when women begin to realise they are experiencing more hair loss. Male hormones cause some men to start losing their hair at an early age while women mostly experience hair loss due to their genes just after menopause when male hormones are most prominent.


What tests do you conduct to find out what is causing hair loss?


There are many tests that can be conducted when assessing hair loss, but despite the advances in medicine today, two types of traditional approaches have stood the test of time. This is an in depth consultation with the doctor and a good physical examination, including a blood test. We use something that we call dermatoscopy, which is a breakthrough in dermatology that has been around almost 30 years now.  In our practice we have an arsenal of techniques that many other doctors don’t have to test in order to discover what is causing severe hair loss in women. We test the hair shaft at least 10 to 20 times and analyse the pattern of hair too. We can help people to regain 30 to 60 per cent of their hair if people act early. However, if you take more than 10 years to visit me with your hair loss problem, this percentage reduces considerably.


How should one maintain their hair, to prevent hair loss?


We depend on the three things when treating hair and liken the process to gardening. You have the person themselves which is the soil, or the garden itself, and you have your inner conditions and metabolism which we nourish with food, the proper vitamins and the dermatologist waters the garden through expertise and care, so in short, it is part of the dermatologist’s job is to support patients in this process.  


You also treat scars. How is this done? Is it by improving the visible marks or even removing them all together?


Scars are a passionate subject for me. When I finished my medical residency in 2010, I joined the army as the army dermatologist. I saw a lot of young people who had scars caused by burn trauma and acne. We started to treat such people in 2010 with good results, thus gaining a lot of experience in treating scars. Some trauma scars are treated in a special way and something they do here now at the hospital is scar mitigation or scar avoidance. We normally treat scars when they are recent in order to make them look better over time.


So, you would treat it when it’s fresh?


A doctor is like a gardener; we need to do different things to get different results. So I see people with fresh scars and provide treatments/procedures such as lasers that will teach the scars to behave in a certain manner. So instead of developing into wider scars or into the harder knit, darker scars or red scars, we can bring them back to normality much earlier. Therefore, they will be cosmetically much better than if you were to allow them evolve by themselves.


What sort of treatments are there? Does it include creams, technology? 


It’s a combination of creams and technology, of which the main element are the laser treatments. I call this my toolbox that I liken to a pencil case filled with coloured crayons. Metaphorically speaking, I use the crayons to create a nice drawing, painting to get the final outcome. We are pioneers here in the UAE in a treatment called laser assisted drug delivery. We create channels through the use of fractional lasers, which is not just one machine, so, we are using that combination of the laser and laser assisted drug delivery, as well as some other treatments that we can combine such as injectables, for a better all-round outcome in treating scars.

For more information, visit danatalemarat.ae

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Derek Issacs

A Brit in the Middle East for 25 years and counting, Derek loves scouring the streets for those under-the-radar cultural gems. And when he’s not putting Yalla – Abu Dhabi magazine to bed, you’ll find him working out at the gym.
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