Sunburn and Your Skin (OUCH!)

Here it is! The requisite summer blog on sunscreen! There is something about the summer heat that just makes my wellness brain say, “You know Sarah, you should write a blog on sunscreen.” So, okay wellness brain, here we go…

Doing a little digging, blogger Dave wrote an amazing blog on sunscreen last year. In it he covers SPF, reapplication, expiration dates, cosmetics and hydration, complete with a  Jersey Shore clip. Clearly I can’t compete with that. So, if you have questions on  SPF, reapplication, expiration dates, cosmetics, hydration or the Jersey Shore, I highly suggest you check out Dave’s aptly named blog, Sunscreen (Complete with a Jersey Shore clip).

Instead, I decided to explore sunburn, i.e. the result of not wearing sunscreen. Continue reading

HPV and Men

Did you know that the CDC recommends that men get vaccinated against HPV (human papilloma virus)? It’s true! The CDC now recommends the HPV vaccine Gardasil for both men and women ages 9-26 years old.

Man, HPV is confusing. So true! My fellow Sexual Wellness Specialist (formerly CHECS) Diana has written a great blog entry about HPV. I want to reiterate that there are over 100 strains of HPV that are transmitted through skin/skin contact in the genital region. Some strains of HPV don’t do anything. Some cause genital warts. Some cause cancers. Gardasil vaccinates against four common strains: HPV-16 & HPV-18 (which cause most of the cancers) and HPV-6 & HPV-11 (which cause 90% of genital warts).

You probably noticed that Gardasil does not vaccinate against all strains of HPV. This means that Gardasil reduces risk of infection but cannot entirely prevent it. It’s still important to take other risk reduction steps, like using condoms and dental dams.

Also note that there is another HPV vaccine available for women, but not men, called Cervarix. It only vaccinates against HPV-16 & HPV-18 (which cause most of the cancers).

I thought HPV was a women’s health issue. Continue reading

Sunscreen (Complete with a Jersey Shore clip)

Yup, it’s that time of year. School is almost out, the weather is turning warmer, and the beaches are sounding oh so nice. The moment is rapidly approaching when I will also receive my first sunburn of the new year. I never expect to get sunburned, but it always happens. I usually receive my first burn from playing sports longer than expected during the middle of the day without applying sunscreen. To be honest, sunscreen is one of the last things on my mind on a beautiful Spring day. I suppose my thinking is that because I am not putting on a skimpy swim suit and lying out on hot sand for hours on end, I do not need to protect myself. Additionally, since I become embarrassingly pale during the winter I don’t want anything to get in the way of my slightly darker summer complexion, even if that means suffering through a few minor burns.

Unfortunately, this darker completion can come at a costly price. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer the US. The Skin Cancer Foundation estimates that 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer each year. In addition to the possibility of cancer, excessive unprotected sun exposure will age your skin much faster than normal. Don’t believe me? Hear it from the sun tanning pros on the Jersey Shore:

Tips from the CDC and Dave:

Use sunscreen. Sunscreens are assigned a sun protection factor (SPF) number that rates their effectiveness in blocking UV rays. Higher numbers indicate more protection. You should use a sunscreen with at least SPF 15.

“But Dave, SPF 15 doesn’t allow me to get tan enough.”

Dave: “We weren’t made to go 20 shades darker than our normal complexion.”

Reapplication. Sunscreen wears off. Put it on again if you stay out in the sun for more than two hours, and after you swim or do things that make you sweat.

“But Dave, mine says it’s water-proof.”

Dave: “They lie. Also, keep bottles in your car, sports, bag, purse, etc. so you always have it accessible.”

Expiration date. Check the sunscreen’s expiration date. Sunscreen without an expiration date has a shelf life of no more than three years, but its shelf life is shorter if it has been exposed to high temperatures.

“Sunscreen can expire?!?!”

Dave: “That’s right, but if you are using the recommended 2 tablespoons for your body per application you should never come close to the expiration date.”

Cosmetics. Some make-up and lip balms contain some of the same chemicals used in sunscreens. If they do not have at least SPF 15, don’t use them by themselves.

“But, I paid $45 dollars for this base!”

Dave: “Sorry.”

Drink water. That’s right, not only will you reduce the risk of heatstroke, but your skin will stay more hydrated and offer more protection against sun damage.

“Wow, thanks Dave.”

Dave: “No problem.”

Tips were adapted from:

Check Your Balls!

“What seems to be the problem?” – The question I had feared from the moment I entered the UNC clinic door.  In a low voice I said, “Lower abdominal pain and … (clearing my throat) … testicular pain”.  “Oh… I see.  Take a seat and someone will be with you shortly.”

Continue reading