What is the UV Index?

uv indexClouds don’t protect you from the sun

On a cloudy summer day it’s easy to forget that the sun’s skin-damaging ultraviolet or UV rays aren’t blocked by the clouds. We still have to use sunscreen, wear hats and sunglasses, or stay out of the sun to protect ourselves.

Related post: Be informed – What is SPF?

UV rays not only cause sunburn, but also skin cancer and cataracts. And there aren’t enough beauty creams in the world to undo the premature aging effects of the sun, either.

Watch this video to see the sun’s “invisible” damage to the … Continue reading

Skin cancer screening guidelines

skin cancer“Insufficient evidence”

Many years ago I had a primary care doctor who used to perform a total body skin examination (TBSE) on me every year as part of my annual exam.

Of course, those all-inclusive physicals are a thing of the past. I haven’t had a physician perform a TBSE for a long time.

I often wondered about that. A TBSE seems like a relatively easy and harmless way to quickly screen for skin cancer. The goal, of course, is to find a melanoma, the deadly skin cancer, when it’s small and possibly curable.

Related post: A must-watch video about Continue reading

Home remedies for sunburns

sunburnsFew summer ailments are as common as sunburns.

Prevention is key, of course, and you can read my previous posts on using sunscreens and how to save money on them.

But if you or your kids get a sunburn, here are some simple steps you can take to stop the burning and promote healing.

You don’t need to buy a bunch of special products. I do keep an inexpensive bottle of aloe vera gel in my medicine cabinet as one of my basic first aid supplies.

Tips to treat sunburns

  • Cool the skin. Whether
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Sunshine for health!

sunshine03Just in time for spring and summer fun in the sun, the results of a large and long-term study on the hazards of avoiding the sun were published last week in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Usually all we hear about are the bad things about too much sun exposure—skin cancer, melanoma, wrinkles, sunburns, etc.

But this study out of Sweden, which followed 30,000 women for 20 years, found:

Nonsmokers who stayed out of the sun had a life expectancy similar to smokers who soaked up the most rays, according to researchers who studied nearly 30,000 Swedish women over

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Home remedies for lice

home remedies for lice I just learned that my state, Washington, is one of several that is experiencing an outbreak of “super-lice”, or lice that are resistant to the traditional pyrethrum-based treatments (Rid contains pyrethrin; Nix contains permethrin).

Super-lice aside, the common louse has been increasingly resistant to the standard over-the-counter products for many years. Which begs the question: Why are Nix and Rid still the recommended first line of treatment by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)??

Probably because there are few other tested and FDA-approved methods.

So what should parents do? Let’s look at the options.

There are basically three ways … Continue reading

Home remedies for chapped lips

chapped lipsDid you ever stop to wonder how the skin of your lips differs from the skin on the rest of your face?

The skin over your lips is very thin and highly vascular, hence their typical “vermilion” or red color. Your lips also have more nerve endings, making them very tactile and sensitive.

These anatomical differences make our lips attractive and nice for kissing, but they also make our lips vulnerable to dryness, sunburn and chemical sensitivities.

Painful and unattractive, chapped lips are especially common in the fall and winter because of the dry, cold air outside, the dry, warm … Continue reading

What sun damage looks like

My husband just forwarded me this great YouTube video showing how exposure to the sun’s UV rays can damage our skin over time.

It’s a timely reminder to wear sunscreen, hats and sunglasses, and try to stay out of the direct sun during peak UV ray hours, about 10 to 2. Kids, too!

Protecting our skin not only helps prevent skin cancer, but can keep our skin looking younger as we age. Think of the savings in anti-aging products 😉

Related posts:

Sláinte,… Continue reading

What attracts mosquitoes?

As a child, I remember my mother declaring that of our entire family (2 adults and 4 kids) she was the only one who was pestered by mosquitoes when we were at our summer cabin by the lake.

She felt understandably persecuted by the little blood-sucking menaces.

And she probably was right.

WebMD reports that “genetics account for a whopping 85% of our susceptibility to mosquito bites.”

New research out of the London School of Tropical Medicine confirms this.

The researchers used pairs of identical and fraternal twins who volunteered to be mosquito meat (who would do that?!).

With these

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Be informed – What is SPF?

An SPF (sun protection factor) rating is an estimate of how effectively a sunscreen product reduces the time it takes your skin to burn. For example, if it normally takes about 10 minutes in the sun for you to burn, a product with an SPF of 15 extends that time to burn to 150 minutes. SPF 30? Approximately 300 minutes.

Related post: First aid for sunburns

Keep in mind two things about SPF:

  1. It is not a super accurate measurement of protection. Different people with different skin types burn at different rates.
  2. SPF measures protection from UVB rays only, not
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Tanning beds and skin cancer

tanning beds and skin cancerLast month a nurse posted this selfie on her Facebook page with the following message:

If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here ya go! This is what skin cancer treatment can look like. Wear sunscreen and get a spray tan. You only get one skin and you should take care of it. Learn from other people’s mistakes. Don’t let tanning prevent you from seeing your children grow up. That’s my biggest fear now that I have a two year old little boy of my own.

I hope a picture is worth … Continue reading

Be informed – bug repellents

bug repellentsI’m about to head off on vacation to a hot, humid and buggy environment. As I want to avoid bug bites and any chance of picking up a weird disease such as chikungunya, I will definitely be packing and using my DEET.

This seems like a good time to re-publish my previous post on bug repellents! FN

Consider benefits versus risks

Last spring I went to Florida for spring break and was attacked by sand fleas. I had about a million (okay, about 70) bites over both legs, and I wrote a post about my attempts to find reliefContinue reading

Tanning beds are dangerous to your health

Isn’t Florida known as the “Sunshine State”?

Then why do they have so many tanning beds?

That’s what I learned in a recent New York Times article regarding the dangers of tanning beds: Warning: That Tan Could Be Hazardous.

Here in the Sunshine State, there are more tanning salons than McDonald’s restaurants, CVS stores or Bank of America branches, according to a 2014 study by University of Miami researchers.

Interesting. I would have expected my city of Seattle (and yes, it is just as gray and wet as rumors say) to have more, but it doesn’t. And for that … Continue reading

Sunscreen and vitamin D

sunscreen vitamin dDon’t avoid all sun exposure

Vitamin D just won’t get out of the news. I posted about it a couple of weeks ago, and here I am commenting again on something else I read.

Actually, a friend sent me a link to a health care blog that referred to a recently-published study out of Sweden. Swedish melanoma researchers followed almost 30,000 women (I’m not sure why just women) for 20 years and concluded:

We found that all-cause mortality was inversely related to sun exposure habits. The mortality rate amongst avoiders of sun exposure was approximately twofold higher compared

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Health care apps – Skin cancer detection

health care apps skin cancerI was browsing through some smartphone apps last week and I ran across one called Doctor Mole. At first I thought it had something to do with the garden pest—I have an infestation of moles plowing through my vegetable garden every evening, so they are much on my mind.

I thought, “Yes! An app to tell me how to get rid of moles!”

Nope. Wrong kind of mole.

But I was still interested. I had heard of these skin cancer tracking apps, so I decided to take a look and see what was available and how they work. My … Continue reading

Sunscreens – What works?

sunscreensHere comes the sun

Although sunscreen could and should be used year-round, we buy more sunscreen products in the summer months. And it’s a good time to stock up on your favorite product, because this is also when you’ll find the best sales.

But do you know what to look for when choosing a product? Do you understand what SPF means and which ingredients offer effective protection? If you aren’t reading labels, and are judging by brand, price or marketing claims alone, you might not be getting the best deal.

UVA and UVB rays

First, why use sunscreen at all? … Continue reading