Let’s face it: riders are out in the sun. A lot. Sure, we wear semi-ridiculous looking giant helmet visors, we cover our faces ringside like we’re about to pull an Ocean’s 11 heist, and we pack on mineral sunscreen powder ever 4 minutes just in case.
Still – between lessons in the blazing sun, week long shows mid summer, and afternoon rosé on the viewing deck – equestrians are facing an awful lot of sun damage. We’ve teamed up with amazing dermatologist, Dr. Deborah Atkin, for on ongoing series all about skincare for the adult amateur rider. Dr. Atkin sees a lot of equestrians, and is an expert in all things skincare….from preventing and treating wrinkles, hyperpigmentation (hello sun mustache!), sun damage, to skin cancer and beyond. To make sure you stay healthy and get carded at Whole Foods for that bottle of champagne, she’s got you covered.
First in our series is the most important – ensuring that you keep your skin healthy after all that time exposed to mother nature:
Protecting The Skin You’re In
If you haven’t had a full-body skin check with a board certified dermatologist in the last year, or ever, now is the perfect time to schedule one. In most cases your exam is covered by insurance, and will only take about 30 minutes. Living in a sunny, warm climate puts everyone, especially equestrians and other athletes, at a heightened risk for sun-related cancers and skin conditions, so these exams are especially important.
In our Del Mar dermatology practice we use this appointment time to check your skin from head to toe, looking for any concerning or changing lesions, moles or nodules. We also like to provide advice about your at-home skin care regimen and any preventative or rejuvenating procedures you could benefit from. Our primary goal during your appointment is to educate you about your skin-health to help you maintain healthier, happier skin while enjoying the outdoors.
How often should I have a full-body skin check?
We recommend annual visits. However, if you notice any new or changing spots you should come in to have them checked sooner. Keep the ABC’s of skin cancer in mind. Also, if you have been diagnosed with a skin cancer, you should follow up with your dermatologist every 6 months after it has been treated.
Do I need to wear sunscreen everyday, or only when I am out for riding?
You need to apply sunscreen everyday, even if you are only walking back and forth to your car, house, office or barn. On the days you are out riding you should be reapplying your sunscreen every two hours. It becomes inactive in the skin after about 120 minutes, and physical sunblocks will come off with perspiration.
It’s important to note that cloud cover does not filter out or protect you from UV rays and the the damage they cause, so even on a cloudy day, sunscreen is a must!
Can I treat my skin to prevent skin cancer before it occurs?
Yes. There are procedures, such as photodynamic therapy, fractional resurfacing laser and liquid nitrogen therapy that will reduce your skin cancer risk by taking away pre-cancerous changes in the skin.
There are also topical treatments that will help, and you can discuss these with your dermatologist. Dr. Atkin and her experienced staff of skin care professionals recommend a preventative at-home skin care regimen that will protect your skin and reverse some of the free radical and UV damage to your skin.
What type of sunscreen should I be using?
We recommend any sunscreen that is an SPF 30 or higher and contains a physical block, such as Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide. These are important ingredients because they create a physical barrier between you and the suns rays.
Does skin cancer run in families?
Certain types of skin cancers run in families. You should make sure you have established yourself with a dermatologist if there is any familial history of skin cancer, especially melanoma. It’s also important to mention that cancers such as squamous cell and basal cell carcinoma can result from years of cumulative sun exposure. If your siblings have had either, then you should be checked too. After all, you most likely had the same outdoor experiences as a child, share a skin type, genetics and may have had similar amounts of sun exposure in your life.
Deborah H. Atkin, MD completed her dermatology specialty training at the University of Arizona, Tucson, following an internship in internal medicine at Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation in San Diego. Dr. Atkin’s medical school training was at UCLA where she graduated with honors in surgery and received the UCLA School of Medicine award for Outstanding Community Service for her role in organizing the first student-run medical clinic for the homeless.
Dr. Atkin served as a surgical volunteer in South Africa for the African Medical Mission and is an active volunteer for the American Cancer Society and the American Liver Foundation for which she received the 2004 Combined Health Agencies San Diego Volunteer of the Year Award. Dr. Atkin lectures for both the American Academy of Dermatology and the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. She has authored a chapter in a cutaneous surgery textbook as well as numerous scientific articles including topics on hair loss, blistering diseases and laser treatment of hyper pigmentation. She is a recognized expert in photodynamic therapy for the treatment of pre-cancerous lesions. Dr. Atkin is a volunteer attending physician at the San Diego Veteran’s Administration Hospital as well as UCSD.
In 2004, Dr. Atkin established Dermatology & Laser of Del Mar, a boutique dermatology practice in Del Mar, CA. At Dermatology & Laser of Del Mar, the professional staff prides themselves on delivering patient-focused care within a compassionate space. The practice offers a multitude of medical and cosmetic dermatology treatments such as skin cancer and acne. The practice also offer laser and injectible treatments to combat aging skin, unwanted fat, and cellulite.
Dr. Atkin has lived in Del Mar for close to 20 years with her husband Chris and their children, Nicholas and Lexie. Dr. Atkin and her son Nicholas established “Nick’s Picks” a 501c3 charity devoted to providing fun-filled backpacks loaded with activities and comfort items to hospitalized children across the country. The entire family pitches in to do their part with the organization, which serves 15 pediatric centers in 6 states
In her spare time she enjoys shooting hoops with her son Nicholas, and watching her daughter, Lexie, ride horses.