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Protecting your skin – What are you wearing?

It’s that time of year when the temperatures rise and the amount of clothing we wear falls.

For those of you headed to the shore this summer, or for those lucky enough to live here in Wilmington, a standard part of your wardrobe should be sunscreen. Even if you’re just out walking the dog, protecting your skin should be your number one priority.

But with recent reports about sunscreen not protecting skin as well as we think it will, how do you know what to buy?

According to Consumer Reports, many sunscreens claiming to be SPF 30 or even SPF 50, were found to have much lower SPF values. Some only proved to be an SPF of 8! Consumer Reports found that of thirty-five SPF 30 sunscreens, thirteen revealed a lower SPF than the label claimed. When the various brands had the opportunity to react to the report, all of them claimed that their own testing is accurate and the ratings are correct. However, Consumer Reports studies test the effectiveness of the sunscreen after being in the water for 80 minutes.0523161543a

The most important lesson in all of this is to apply sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30 every two hours for the most effective results. And, to reapply when you get out of the water, even if it’s water resistant.

If you do find yourself with sunburn, it’s good to have some aloe on hand. Either pure aloe gel, or a product like Solarcaine with aloe and Lidocaine, can provide instant relief. You’ll need to reapply every few hours depending on the severity of the burn. Pure aloe contains vitamin C and E which hydrates skin, improves firmness, reduces pain and swelling experienced in sunburn, and acts as a protective layer on the skin.

Another effect of playing in the water can be swimmer’s ear. This painful condition occurs when water gets trapped in your ear, usu0523161548ally after swimming. The result is inflammation, irritation, or infection. Ear plugs can be used to prevent water from getting into your ear. However, if it’s too late to prevent it, you can apply After-swim ear drops which will dry out and clear out the trapped water in the ear.

Before hitting the beach, stop by one of our stores and pick up plenty sunscreen, aloe, and ear plugs and drops for your family for a burn-free and pain-free summer!

Lupus Awareness Month

We recently shared information with you regarding an autoimmune disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis. This issue, we’ll feature another autoimmune disease. However, instead of targeting bone joints, this disease targets any and all parts of the body. Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body.

In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights off viruses, bacteria, and germs. Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body.

Symptoms

A wide range of symptoms can occur with lupus and they can appear over several weeks or months.

  • Extreme fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Painful or swollen joints
  • Fever
  • Anemia (low numbers of red blood cells or hemoglobin, or low total blood volume)
  • Swelling in feet, legs, hands, and/or around eyes
  • Pain in chest on deep breathing
  • Butterfly-shaped rash across cheeks and nose
  • Sun- or light-sensitivity
  • Hair loss
  • Abnormal blood clotting
  • Fingers turning white and/or blue when cold
  • Mouth or nose ulcers

These symptoms are common in both men and women, though 90% of people diagnosed with lupus are women. Many times, lupus is misdiagnosed since its symptoms are common to other illnesses such as RA, fibromyalgia, diabetes, Lyme disease, to name a few.

ƒLupus can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are so common with other diseases, More than half of those afflicted with lupus suffered at least four years, and saw three or more doctors before obtaining a correct diagnosis. Unfortunately, there isn’t a single blood test to diagnose lupus. If you notice signs or symptoms of lupus, be sure to engage your doctor and ask questions. Early diagnosis is crucial to preventing long-term consequences of the disease.

Facts

  • An estimated 1.5 million Americans have lupus. ƒ
  • No two cases of lupus are alike. Common symptoms include joint pain, skin rashes, overwhelming fatigue and fevers that last for days or weeks.
  • Most people with lupus don’t look sick. ƒ
  • Lupus can impact any organ or tissue, from the skin or joints to the heart or kidneys.
  • Two leading causes of serious illness and death from lupus are kidney disease and heart disease. ƒ
  • Lupus usually develops between ages 15 and 44 and it lasts a lifetime. ƒ
  • Lupus is two to three times more frequent among African Americans, Asians, Hispanics/Latinos, Pacific Islanders and Native Americans than among Caucasians. ƒ

While the causes of lupus are unknown, scientists believe hormones, genetics (heredity) and environmental factors are factors.

Treatment

Lupus symptoms vary from one person to another. Work closely with your doctor and let her know about all of your symptoms so they can tailor the best treatment to your specific condition.

Medications ranging in strength from mild to strong can be prescribed for your needs. It can take months and sometimes years before the right combination of medications is found to help keep your lupus symptoms under control.

There are many categories of drugs physicians use to treat lupus. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved only a few specifically for lupus, which include:

Corticosteroids, including prednisone, prednisolone, methylprednisolone, and hydrocortisone
Antimalarials, such as hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil®) and chloroquine
The monoclonal antibody belimumab (Benlysta®)
Acthar (repository corticotropin injection), which contains a  naturally occurring hormone called ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone)
Aspirin

Lupus can be expensive to live with and treat. The average annual direct and indirect costs incurred by a person with lupus can exceed $21,000 annually, a higher cost per patient than those living with heart disease, bipolar disorder, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, hypertension and asthma. ƒ

If you are experiencing any of the above listed symptoms over the course of more than a couple of weeks, schedule an appointment with your doctor. Keeping a list of symptoms and how long you’ve had them can also help provide insight for your treatment. Also let them know of other medications that you are taking and talk with your pharmacist to make sure there are no harmful drug interactions.

Causes of stress in kids

What is happening to cause all of the stress? We’ve read many articles and studies and have found many contributing factors including:

  • Homework is starting earlier than ever before. I don’t remember having as much homework in elementary and even up into high school as my children have had.
  • More demands for AP classes. More AP classes are available now than we had growing up and parents and colleges are putting demands on kids to take those higher-level classes.
  • Colleges are requiring more of kids…just to get into the school of choice. More testing is conducted, more essays are written and more colleges are toured as part of the process.
  • More internet. Kids have just about unlimited access to just about anything found online. And they put pressures on themselves to get a lot of ‘likes’ of social media channels like Instagram, and get a higher score on SnapChat.
  • 24 hour news cycle. We hear about terrible things that happen around the globe almost instantly. As soon as tragedy strikes, Twitter is lighting up, and 24-hour news channels are reporting sometimes grim details.
  • Too many extra-curricular activities. From school sports, to club sports, to marching band, or after-school jobs, kids go from school to activity, then to home where they may have three hours of homework waiting for them.

However, not all stress is bad. It can be good for competition and pushing kids to to do their best. Perhaps it instills a certain ‘drive’ in some kids. But parents need to be sensitive to the needs of their child. Not every child can handle multiple AP classes and the pace of the academics required for those courses. Parents put extra demands on the kids to take these classes so they can get into “better” colleges, and that can cause some undue stress in your kids.

Some tips for parents in reducing stress in their kids include:

  • Listen to your kids and don’t judge them.
  • Don’t minimize their feelings. We know that worse things can happen then not getting a lot of likes and comments on Instagram, or maybe that made a bad play that cost the team a win, but while we have the advantage of a better perspective, to them it’s all that matters.
  • Talk with them about ways they can better manage/balance their workload and their extra curricular activities.
  • Make sure they are getting enough sleep. Kids should get between 8-10 hours of sleep each night.
  • Increase family time. This could even be eating more meals together where you can all talk about your day.

The song by Twenty One Pilots has lyrics that describe what many people feel like when they reflect back on their youth:

“I was told when I get older all my fears would shrink,
But now I’m insecure and I care what people think.
My name’s ‘Blurryface’ and I care what you think.
Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out”

Then the song goes on to say:
“Out of student loans and treehouse homes we all would take the latter.”

Let your kids know that you have stress too, but without going into detail. It’s important to let them be aware that stressful situations will occur throughout their lives and to understand how to cope with situations at an early age so they can handle even more difficult situations when they are older.

Tips to Manage Stress

We all hear that the holidays are the most stressful of seasons. However, stress can happen any time of year and can be triggered by a number of different situations. Everyone experiences some level of stress at different points of their life—how we all manage our stress is a completely different story. Something that could roll off of one person’s back could send someone else into a panic. An important aspect to managing stress is knowing what triggers your own stress and learning how to cope with it. For people who are mentally ill, coping can be more challenging.

The month of May has been identified as Mental Health Month. In order to raise awareness of this taboo subject, we’d like share some information on how to identify what triggers stress, and how to manage and avoid stressful situations.

Triggers are people, places, words, or situations that increase negative feelings that can make it difficult to cope, especially if you have a history of mental illness. One way to learn how to cope is to work on exposing yourself to triggers when you are well so that negative experiences are lessened when you’re stressed. For example, if going to the grocery store or crossing bridges is scary – take small steps to expose yourself to these situations. However, there are some triggers, like yelling, or abusive relationships that you might consider avoiding all together. It’s important to take care of your own well-being first and identify some triggers that you can work through. And identify if there are triggers that you should avoid.

Early warning signs of how you are coping with stress are personal changes in thoughts or behaviors that signal that things are getting worse. The sooner you intervene when these signs occur, the better.  Stress can creep up on you when it seems like you have so much to get done and not enough time to do it. Or sometimes when symptoms of mental illness come back, normal every day activities become stressful. When stress comes, it often affects sleep.

Some examples of not being able to cope with a situation might include:

  • withdrawing for more than two days;
  • feeling so agitated you haven’t slept for three or more days;
  • finding it difficult to get out of bed.

When these signs occur, it’s helpful to call your treatment provider, or call your emergency contact so you can talk through what is going on in your life.

Some other activities that can reduce stress include:

  • Make a routine
  • Stand up and stretch
  • Take 4 slow, deep breaths
  • Work a puzzle or color
  • Talk to someone who is a good listener
  • Give yourself a pep talk (”I can do this.”)
  • Close your eyes and listen to sounds around you
  • Look at pictures of cute animals like puppies
  • Watch a funny video. There are lots of cat videos on YouTube!
  • Take a brisk walk
  • Read a magazine or a book
  • Watch the sunrise or sunset
  • Massage your temples
  • Do a good deed or random act of kindness
  • Listen to music

If you feel like the stresses of life are more than you can bear, and are beyond the simple steps to reduce stress, please talk to your doctor about other options including counseling and medication. And be sure to talk to your pharmacist to make sure any new medications prescribed don’t counteract other medications you are currently taking.