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Question: I’m getting married this summer and want to be tan in my wedding photos and on my honeymoon. Will visiting the tanning salon a few times decrease my chances of getting a sunburn if I get a base tan? Also, aren’t tanning salons safer than laying out in the sun?

Answer: You’d be surprised how often these questions are asked! The short answer is NO and NO! Any type of tan is a sign of skin damage. A tan is the skin’s response to UV damage to the skin’s DNA. The skin darkens to prevent more damage, but your risk of skin cancer is already increased. There is no such thing as a “safe” or “healthy” tan.

Tanning beds deliver concentrated levels of UVA and UVB radiation, both of which cause cell damage that can lead to skin cancer. UVA radiation also penetrates deeper into the skin and causes irreversible skin aging like loss of elasticity, wrinkles and brown spots.

If you want to look tan in your wedding photos, try a sunless tanning cream or lotion. You can still get the glow you want without any of the skin damage.

As far as your honeymoon, take plenty of sunscreen with you. Look for a sunscreen that is SPF 30 or higher, broad spectrum (blocking both UVA and UVB), and water-resistant. Be sure to apply sunscreen at least 15 minutes before going outdoors, and to reapply sunscreen at least every 2 hours or immediately after getting wet (for example, after getting out of a pool). Forgetting to reapply sunscreen throughout the day is the one step that most people forget during vacation and that leads to sunburns. Sunscreen only maintains its listed SPF for approximately 90 minutes, after which point the SPF starts to decrease and the sunscreen starts to lose its ability to block ultraviolet light. Shade and clothing can also help protect you from UV rays. Wear protective UV-blocking sunglasses, broad-brimmed hats and tightly-woven clothes and seek shade when possible. Getting into the habit of protecting yourself from UV rays is as simple as the steps above and will allow you to enjoy the outdoors without damaging your skin.

This article was originally published on May 18, 2015, and was updated on April 12, 2017.

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It’s that time of the year when runny noses, itchy eyes, and scratchy throats start. It is allergy season. For many people, when spring starts and trees and grass grow they start getting allergy symptoms. Allergies can happen all year, though.

Common environmental allergies can be due to dust mites, animals, pollen, grass and trees, just to name a few. Each of these allergies can happen more often in different times of the year. Grass and trees are often bothersome to people in spring, whereas pollens are in the late summer. Dust mite allergies can be found all year round.

When symptoms are bad, many people turn to medications for help. There are some things you can try prior to using medications. For example, for dust mite allergies you can try using dust mite covers on your pillow and bed. Staying in air conditioning may help symptoms when the pollen count is high. You can also flush out the allergens by using a netti pot or saline eye drops.

Medications that can be helpful include decongestants and antihistamines. Decongestants help relieve nasal congestion symptoms once they have started. Antihistamines block the histamine reaction and help prevent symptoms from happening. They often have to be taken several days to weeks prior to exposure to the allergens. Nasal steroids can also help decrease nasal congestion symptoms and work right at the source of the congestion. There are allergy eye drops that help with itchy, watery eyes too.

If you are having allergy symptoms that are not improving with over the counter medication, it is time to see your primary care doctor to discuss your symptoms. There may be another reason for your symptoms or other medication or treatments to consider. Allergy testing may also be needed to figure out what specifically you are allergic to so that you can avoid the allergen.

This article was originally published on March 20, 2015, and was updated on April 10, 2017.

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Did you know that 1 in 3 women suffer from or will develop a pelvic floor disorder during their lifetime?

Pelvic floor disorders are problems related to bladder, bowel and sexual function. They include different types of urine leakage (incontinence) or bladder control problems like going frequently, getting up at night to urinate, or getting strong, uncontrollable urges to urinate. Pelvic floor disorders also include problems related to the bowels such as accidental loss of gas or stool. Finally, a condition known as prolapse, which is a feeling that the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, vagina or rectum) are bulging or falling out, is also a pelvic floor disorder.

The risk for pelvic floor disorders increases with age. While these conditions are often linked to having children, there are other reasons they can develop. There are also many conditions that make pelvic floor disorders worse that can be managed with relative ease. Many women suffer silently from these conditions. They assume that these conditions are a normal part of the aging process. They also assume that because their mother or sister had it, then they are destined to get it too.

Fortunately pelvic floor disorder are not life threatening. They primarily affect a woman’s quality of life. That means that they do not have to be treated right away. Depending on how bothersome the condition is, a watch and wait approach is often acceptable. However, a thorough evaluation is needed first to ensure it is safe to wait.

Once a pelvic floor disorder affects a woman’s quality of life, there are a number of treatment options available. Many of these options are conservative and non-invasive like lifestyle, behavior, or diet changes. Other treatments include medications, physical therapy and surgery in some cases. Each woman is different; therefore each woman’s treatment plan will be different.

Be open with your doctor about your symptoms and ask about treatment options. You can also ask about seeing a specialist and request a referral if needed. There are qualified specialists in your area that are willing to help you break free from pelvic floor disorders.

This article was originally published on October 20, 2014, and was updated on March 30, 2017.