One of my very best friends, Anne Ramsdell, MD, is a Dermatologist and business owner of Niagara Dermatology in Lewiston, NY. Anne and I met at Nazareth College of Rochester in 1992 when we started our undergraduate programs. We were both Biology majors and quickly became friends, as we suffered through Organic Chemistry together. After we graduated, Anne went on to graduate school and received a Master’s degree in Oncology and was accepted into medical school at the University of Buffalo. Anne stayed in Buffalo and practiced medicine at the VA Hospital and a private dermatologist’s office until 2013 when she opened her own practice.
Anne has been cheering me on through all of my college soccer games, marathons, triathlons and Ironman races. She says, “Betsy, I don’t know how you do it. I don’t want to do something that feels good for five plus hours, let alone do something hard!” My response to Anne is that it’s easier than going through medical school and taking the Boards!
Through the years I have had many conversations with Anne about various running, biking and swimming ailments and injuries. Here I have outlined a question and answer session with Anne that is very interesting with helpful advice. These are mostly skin related questions since she is a dermatologist.
Q: Do you have any advice for athletes training and racing in the sun?
A: I like zinc oxide sunscreens the best. Neutrogena babies is really good and stays on better. You technically should reapply every two hours, but I know you can’t, so get a sunscreen that’s mineral based. Put it on naked before you get dressed. Sprays are not good enough. SPF 30 is fine, no need to go higher than that. An average body needs 1oz of sunscreen, which is a shot glass full. You should apply 2 tsp of sunscreen to the face alone. Most bottles are only 3-5oz, so they should really only last 3-5 applications. Most people don’t apply enough and are not reapplying.
Q: Just this past year I noticed that I have some sun spots on my face. Is there anything that I can do to get rid of them?
A: Solar lentigines, or sun spots, can be removed. I do it with intense pulsed light (IPL) in my office. I charge $325 a session, and depending on the damage, you will need 2-3 sessions. It is more difficult if your skin is darker. You cannot have a tan when you do it. Most of these procedures are done in the fall, winter and spring.
Q: My skin gets very dry from the sun, pool and weather. Is there a specific moisturizer that you recommend?
A: Creams are much better than lotions, they are much more hydrating. Don’t use deodorant soap. After the shower, pat dry and use moisturizer while you are still damp. Cetaphil cream is great, Cereve is good too. If you are really dry, use plain Vaseline just out of the shower after you pat dry. It sounds gross, but you will not be greasy if you are wet when you put it on.
Always rinse the chlorine off after swimming and then moisturize. Studies have shown that people who swim regularly in chlorinated pools age better. They do not know the mechanism, but there is something with the chlorine exposure to the skin that slows aging.
Q: Sometimes Chamois Butter isn’t good enough. What is the best treatment for saddle sores, or any chaffing for that matter, sometimes Bodyglide and Trislide fail?
A: Wet material causes chaffing, so keeping dry is best. Try using anti-perspirant stick on areas that are susceptible to sweating friction. If the area is already irritated and wet, then put on a coating of plain Vaseline. It will cut down on the friction and help soothe the skin. Once you get badly chaffed, you really need a prescription strength topical steroid to help you heal. Cortaide will help a little bit if you can’t get a prescription.
I don’t know about you, but I’m walking away with the following take home messages:
- Spend the extra $6-$12 a month to buy enough sun screen to slather a shot glass worth on so that you aren’t forking over close to $1000 per area to have sun spots removed when you turn 40 years old.
- Vaseline does have a real purpose! My parents and grandparents always had a big jar of Vaseline in the medicine cabinet. I never saw anyone use it and the same half-full jar sat there for as long as I can remember. I have bought my own jar of Vaseline and have started to use it as a moisturizer and on my forever chaffed heart rate monitor strap area. It works!
- Unless you have a friend that’s a doctor, you are just going to have to suffer with your saddle sores. Sorry I wasn’t able to find some life-changing advice there.
- Keep swimming in your chlorinated pools and maybe you won’t need those Botox injections!
No excuses for not swimming!