Welcome to the official Hello Wellness Blogspot! We are glad that you are here! We will be providing information about the clinic, our services, and our hours of operation. We will also periodically be discussing medical topics and hope to cover a different topic every month. We hope that you will find this site informative and useful. This site is meant to provide basic medical information and knowledge and should not serve as a substitution for situations involving urgent or emergent illness. Obviously, if you have any questions whatsoever you are encouraged to call our clinic at 479-249-6362, between 7am-5pm. Also, email us at well@helloprimarycare.com.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer is upon us and with everyone getting out to enjoy summer activities it is important to talk about good skin care and sunscreens.  Skin cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer in the United States.  Basal and squamous cancers are usually slow growing and associated with long-term sun exposure.  In contrast, melanoma may occur in fair skinned patients with infrequent but blistering sunburns.  The use of suncreens has been statistically shown to reduce the risk of squamous skin cancers and likely lowers the incidence rates of the other two skin cancers.  It definitely lowers the incidence of sunburn and the discomfort that goes along with it.

The sun emits three main ultraviolet (UV) rays-UVA, UVB, and UVC.  UVC is absorbed in the ozone layer and has no clinical significance.  UVB rays have long been considered "sunburn rays."  The National Institutes of Health has determined that both UVA and UVB cause skin cancer.  Traditionally, SPF has been used to estimate protection against UVB rays, however there are more chemical sunscreens being produced to protect against UVA rays, referred to as broad-spectrum products.  Chronic UVA exposure is thought to play a key role in photoaging.

The SPF(sun protection factor) is a number developed to try and rate the amount of protection a product may provide against mainly UVB rays.  It is measured by the amount of light that causes redness in skin treated with a sunscreen divided by the amount of light that causes redness in unprotected skin.  It is important to point out that SPF is not directly related to the time of solar exposure, but more the amount of solar exposure.  This concept will apply differently to different individuals and is dependent on location, cloud cover, amount of reapplication, sweating and swimming. 

Sunscreens can be divided broadly into physical sunscreens and chemical sunscreens.  Physical sunscreens contain large particulate substances which act to refelect and scatter both visible and UV light.  Chemical sunscreens absorb UV radiation rather than reflect.

With all this in Mind, here are some quick tips:
1.  Avoiding sun exposure altogether is the best preventative measure to reduce risk of sunburn and skin cancer; if you have to be out there, then avoid hours between 10am-4pm as UV rays are at there peak during these hours.

2.  Wear wide brimmed hats, sunglasses, long sleeves, and pants.  Also loose fitting lighter colored clothing is a good idea.  Some manufaturers have begun producing sun protective clothing with a minimum SPF.

3.  Apply a Broad-Spectrum(protects against UVA an UVB rays) sunscreen 30 minutes before sun exposure to exposed skin.  It should be waterproof and sweatproof and applied liberally and massaged well into the skin.  If sweating or swimming it should be reapplied at the longest every 2 hours.  Use an SPF of at least 30.  Beware of diminishing returns with increasing SPF values.  For example, 92% of UVB rays are blocked with a SPF of 15, while only 97% of UVB rays are blocked with a SPF of 30.  Balance cost when purchasing.  If using sprays, then spray liberally and it would not hurt to rub them in. 

4.  Sunscreens do have a shelf life.  Most chemical sunscreens have an expiration date and it is recommended to throw them away when it has passed the expiration date listed on the bottle.

5.  In general sunscreens are not typically used in infants younger than 6 months of age because the safety has not been tested in this age group.  However, if hats and shade, etc. are not available use a minimal amount of SPF 15 or higher to small areas in young infants.

6.  Take care of the kids; typically kids are at higher risk for sunburn mainly because they are just  unaware of the risks and consequences of sunburn.

7.  While sunburn is an avoidable consequence to being outdoors, sometimes we can't help it.  There is little that can be done to reverse the effects and damage of a sunburn, but there are things to relieve pain and the inflammation associated with sunburn.  If the sunburn is severe and blistering it may be worthwhile to make an appointment with your doctor.  You can obviously call us at 479-249-6362.

8.  Have skin lesions or moles looked at by a doctor that seem to "change" in appearance.  Whether they get larger, get darker, spread, bleed, or form an ulcer these probably need to be evalauated.  Furthermore, skin lesions that seem to "not heal" need to be evaluated.

Hope this helps!  Stay tuned, we will be providing more valuable information in the coming weeks!