Cervical Health Awareness Image

 

MAINTAINING YOUR CERVICAL HEALTH IS IMPORTANT FOR WOMEN OF ALL AGES

Did you know that nearly 13,000 women are diagnosed with Cervical Cancer each year in the United States alone? January is Cervical Health Awareness Month, a time to take the opportunity to learn how to monitor your own cervical health for early detection of cervical cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV) related issues. It is important to stay up-to-date with cervical cancer screening recommended by your OB-GYN provider based on your age. Stay in touch with your body – here are common recommendations for women of all ages:

AGES 9-26

It’s time to get your Gardasil Immunization to prevent infection and transmission of the most common strains of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus, the most common cause of cervical dysplasias and cervical cancers). No cervical screening is recommended for young women before age 21.

AGES 21-29

When you turn 21, it’s time to start with regular cervical cytology – commonly known as the Pap test or Pap smear - every three years. If your results are ASCUS (borderline between normal and abnormal), your doctor may recommend HPV triage, which is done using the same cells taken at your screening and will look for any high-risk HPV infections. This approach may be taken between ages 21 and 24 and it is preferable between ages 25 and 29.

AGES 30-65

At age 30 it is recommended to maintain cervical cytology alone every three years, or to get co-testing, cytology and viral culture, every five years.

AGES 65 AND BEYOND

Once you reach age 65, no cervical screening is needed if prior testing has been normal. 

 

Of course, your gynecologist will chart your plan of care based on your personal screening history – it can vary, but annual care is most important!

 

Learn more about cervical health and cancer warning signs from the CDC. 

Learn more about HPV screening and safety from the CDC. 

I Vaccinate is a campaign focused on informing Michigan parents about vaccinations using information and tools based on real medical science and research. Support for the campaign is provided by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Franny Strong Foundation.

At IHA, we believe in the safety and benefits of childhood immunizations. We advocate following the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines for immunizations. We stay informed about newly published immunization studies and have not seen any studies that lead us to support the delay of immunizations or use of alternative immunization schedules. Alternative immunization schedules leave children unprotected at the most vulnerable ages.

To best protect your children, our other patients, as well as our staff and providers from preventable illnesses, we have made the decision to only accept new families into our practices who plan to fully immunize their children according to the Center for Disease Control and American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. If your child is behind on the recommended immunizations, the office may contact you or we ask that you discuss this with your child’s provider at their next visit.

Click here to learn more about I Vaccinate.

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Recently social media has been filled with trending “Sunburn Art” photos – people strategically applying sunscreen in extravagant patterns then getting intensely sunburned to display the masterpiece. Although it may be tempting to show off artistic talents for the Instagram likes and retweets, sunburns can have long term consequences on your skin health, including risk for skin cancer and premature aging. As you enjoy the outdoors this summer here are a few tips for sunscreen use:

What kind of sunscreen should I buy? Do I really need the SPF 100+? The best option is to find one that you are willing to wear regularly! The American Academy of Dermatology recommends that sunscreen should be broad spectrum with protection against both UVA and UVB. This should be at least SPF 30 and water resistant. Many dermatologists recommend a higher SPF, even SPF 100. This is due to recent research showing that many people do not apply sunscreen as thick as how the SPF number was established. Often, people use as little as 25-50%! Using a higher SPF may partially compensate for putting on too little. Using a moisturizer containing sunscreen on exposed skin can be nice for daily use when you know you won’t have extended time outside. Usually the SPF in makeup is an added bonus but is not applied thick enough to rely on.

What is the safest way to apply sunscreen? It is best to apply sunscreen 15-20 minutes before going outdoors. It takes this long to fully absorb. Make sure to apply it to all exposed skin, getting help for hard to reach places like the middle of the back. To get the true SPF value on the bottle, sunscreen amount should be based on the “teaspoon rule” – 1 teaspoon to the face/neck/scalp, 1 teaspoon for each arm, 1 teaspoon to the chest and abdomen, 1 teaspoon to the back, and 2 teaspoons for each leg. Please be sure to re-apply every two hours while outside because the sunscreen will lose effectiveness over time. The re-application rule is also important after swimming or heavy sweating. Many people who wore sunscreen at the beginning of long day outside get burned because of not reapplying. Keep up the good work!

But I hate the feel and smell of sunscreen. What are my alternatives? Physical blockage from the sun by clothing is an alternative to sunscreen. There are many marketplace options for UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) clothing with UVA and UVB protection based on weave and thickness of the fabric. This should be taken with caution because bleaching or stretching the fabric can decrease the effectiveness. A broad brim hat can be helpful but this has been documented to only show SPF protection less than 10 (and a baseball hat has a SPF 1.5 for the nose at best!). These are best used in combination with other forms of sun protection.

Do the sunscreen recommendations change for my kids? Sun protection for kids and teenagers is super important! It is well documented that sun exposure in childhood is a risk factor for developing skin cancer as an adult. Per the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is best to use other sun protective methods first (shade, sun protective clothing, hats) with broad spectrum sunscreen applied on skin that is still exposed. Sunscreens with UV blocking active ingredients titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are recommended for children under two years old.

If you are interested in having a skin cancer screening or would like to have a concerning lesion evaluated, our board-certified and experienced dermatologists at IHA Dermatology are always happy to help in any way that we can. Just call us at 734-667-DERM (3376) to schedule an appointment.