Friday, March 18, 2016
Did you know that your skin is your body’s largest organ? Each year, thousands are plagued by various skin diseases and cancers. While all diseases aren’t preventable, a great deal of them are. With summer rapidly approaching, there is no better time to teach your family how to best take care of their skin. Prevention is the best cure when it comes to skin ailments!
One of the best and most proactive means of skin health is to be smart about sun exposure. A great deal of unprotected sun exposure can cause wrinkles, age spots, and many other skin problems including an increased chance of skin cancer. When going outside for prolonged periods of time be sure to lather down with sunscreen with a SPF of at least 15. Most dermatologists recommend a higher rated SPF during peak sun times. If you are in the water, be sure to reapply frequently. In addition to wearing sunscreen, avoid direct sun between about 10am to 2pm. This tends to be when the sun beams are at their harshest and can cause the most damage. Seek out shade if you must be outside during these times.
Smoking is another factor that can contribute to skin issues. Smoking narrows blood vessels in the outermost layers of skin, which in turn decreases blood flow. This depletes the skin of oxygen and nutrients that are important to your skin’s overall well-being. The fibers that give your skin strength can also be damaged by smoking resulting in loss of elasticity and in turn causing wrinkles. There are no preventative measures to prevent smoking from hurting your skin. The only sure method is to quit smoking all together.
Luckily there are easy ways for you to nourish and care for your skin with simple adjustments to your usual routines. Keeping your skin nourished and healthy helps to prevent other issues. To start, limit the amount of time you spend in very hot water. It can dry out your skin and tends to eliminate natural oils. Also be sure to avoid strong soaps whenever possible. They can strip oils off of your skin and cause irritation. Go for soaps that state they are gentle or sensitive. When you are done bathing, pat yourself dry rather than scrubbing with a towel. This allows some moisture and your natural oils to stay put. While you are still damp from bathing, be sure to moisturize. Moisturizing at this stage allows you to lock in extra moisture and natural oils and increases the softness of your skin. If you use a moisturizer daily, consider one with a SPF built in.
If you have any other questions or want more ways you can protect your skin, visit a dermatologist for an exam. They can look at your skin, any problems you may have, and provide medications or suggestions to ensure you are at your optimal health.
Monday, March 14, 2016
We often don’t know exactly where the food we buy at the grocery store comes from. Since there are many laws and processes in place concerning food and food safety, there is usually no reason to worry about the process. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration works hard to monitor food and puts several rules and regulations in place about what is acceptable. Even though most food and health items never cause any issue or have any problems, sometimes there can be a cause for concern.
A food recall can happen for many reasons. Sometimes it may need to be pulled from shelves due to packaging errors, contamination, or any other reason that is deemed unsafe to the general public. The FDA has several measures in place to warn the general public about recalls and safety alerts on products they regulate. To start, any time a major recall is issued, press releases are pushed to all major news outlets with a special focus on those located in affected regions. The news may be shared via television, print media, and the internet. Grocery stores will also be provided these press releases. You can often find a bulletin board at your local store that lists all recalls, whether voluntary or mandatory, of items that that particular store currently carries or may have carried in the past. The FDA will also post this information on their website. They even offer the ability to subscribe to updates about recalls, market withdrawals, and general safety alerts.
If you find that you have purchased and/or used a product that has been recalled by the FDA, press releases will provide further information on the next steps that you should take. Most of the time you will be able to return the product for a full refund. If you feel that you have an illness related to the recall, reach out to your doctor as soon as possible. After that, contact the manufacturer of the product to let them know that you may be ill due to their product. They will be best to provide you with the next steps you should take and how to properly file any claims that you may need to submit.
Be sure to sign up for alerts or at least to view the FDA’s site regularly to make sure that items in your home aren’t listed. Remember not to panic if you find that an item is recalled! Follow the instructions provided to you and make sure that you and your family visit the doctor if necessary. You can find the FDA’s main safety site at www.fda.gov/Safety/
Friday, March 4, 2016
For those with allergies, the smallest bit of dander can set off miserable symptoms. Staying inside your home with the doors and windows closed often seems like the best solution especially in the spring! However, millions of allergens can still sneak into your home in a matter of seconds, settling in and causing you misery. Luckily there are steps that you can take year round to make your home as allergen free as possible!
- Vacuum and mop 2-3 times per week: This is especially important if you have carpet or rugs in your home. Dust mites and other allergens can easily become trapped in carpets and become “stirred up” by simply walking across the floor. Combat this by vacuuming and mopping as often as possible. If you have a vacuum, make sure that it has a HEPA filter. They trap more particles than regular filters and help with the amount of dust and mites that are put back into the air of your home. Also try to avoid sweeping with a traditional broom when possible since the action tends to push allergens up into the air which you in turn breathe in. Try to opt for a static cling dry mop or a vacuum if at all possible! Mopping hard floors helps ensure that you collect any dust, mites, or dirt that may be lingering there. The wet nature of the mop traps particles rather than releasing them back into the air. Just be sure to change mop heads frequently!
- Wear a mask while cleaning: This may make you feel silly but a mask will greatly help limit your exposure to allergens that you have stirred up while cleaning. No matter how cautious you are, there are bound to be “floaters” just waiting to be breathed in. Masks are affordable and can be found at most hardware and department stores.
- Wash sheets and blankets at least once a week: Try to get your water as warm as possible and use the most “extreme” setting on your machine. Also be sure to use a gentle, anti-allergy, or scent free detergent. Strong scents found in a great deal of detergents can wreak havoc on you and your family’s allergies if you are susceptible to them. Also launder any blankets or throws you have throughout your home even if they don’t receive direct use. Allergens tend to cling to fabrics and can set allergies off by simply being touched or brushed against.
- Never air-dry any laundry: This is especially true during the spring when pollen and spores are dancing through the air. Putting your laundry outside voids all the hard work you have done disinfecting the items in the first place. Opt for an electric dryer and clean out your lint trap each time you run a cycle.
- Deep clean damp areas like your bathroom at least once a week: Mold and mildew thrive in damp or wet places. They are not only a bummer for your allergies but they can also be incredibly dangerous to everyone whether they suffer from allergies or not! Deep cleaning sinks, toilets, and showers regularly helps to kill both before they spread. Bleach based cleaners are the easiest and most affordable way to kill everything and to ensure that all is sanitized. If you don’t have a bottle of pre-mixed bleach cleaner handy – you can easily make your own! Be sure to wear gloves and mix about 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. Thoroughly soak the area with your cleaner and then scrub until any visible soap scum or mold is gone. If you can visibly see mold, try to let your bleach solution sit for at least 10 minutes before starting to scrub. There are also cleaners available that are made specifically for cleaning up mold. Using a good cleaner also ensures that you get rid of dander and soap scum which allergens can easily cling to.
- Ask for help: If your allergies are so bad that cleaning is miserable for you, don’t hesitate to ask someone for help! Leave your house while your friend or family deep cleans your home weekly. Allow a few hours after the cleaning is complete before returning home to ensure that any remaining allergens have settled.
If you still continue to experience a great deal of allergies even after taking precautionary measures in your home, it may be time to visit your doctor for an allergy test. You may have something in your home causing you trouble that you never suspected! Your family doctor may even recommend that you visit an Allergist who specializes in allergies and how to avoid them.