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Live Wisely

The Secret Advantage of Long Sleeves

On a hot, sunny day, long sleeves get a bad wrap. In fact, when it’s hot out, a wearer in long sleeves will endure laughter and ridicule on the golf course and the endless question, “Aren’t you hot in that?” Here’s the good news, if you wear UPF 50+ long sleeves when the rays are pummeling you, you no longer have to contend with those who simply don’t know the secret advantage of long sleeves.

The fact is that when the sun is shining and temperatures rise, UV protected long sleeves keep you safe from sunburn and keep you cooler. Doctors have long recommended wearing UV sun protective clothing as a way to prevent sun damage and protect against skin cancer; however what science is now proving that blocking UVA/UVB rays in combination with long sleeves actually keeps us cooler too.

A number of years ago, an inquisitive research team led by C Richard Taylor and Virginia Finch of Harvard University and Amiram Shkolnik and Arieh Borut of Tel Aviv University were puzzled by the ability of the Bedouins of the Sinai to minimize solar heat loads in a hot desert. The study, aptly called Why Do Bedouins Wear Black Robes in Hot Deserts?, measured the people’s overall heat gain and loss in the robes, considering their amount of coverage, long sleeves and the color of their robes.

A volunteer wearing different levels of coverage and different colored clothing was faced into the midday sun in the desert for 30 minutes. Withstanding 95F, the volunteer placed in the Negev desert at the bottom of the rift valley between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Eilat wore either: 1) a black Bedouin robe; 2) a similar robe that was white; 3) a tan army uniform; or 4) shorts (that is, he was semi‑nude).

The results were surprising, but not surprising. Long sleeves and more clothing kept the wearer cooler. As the report puts it: “The amount of heat gained by a Bedouin exposed to the hot desert is the same whether he wears a black or a white robe. The additional heat absorbed by the black robe was lost before it reached the skin.”

As far as desert temperatures in our everyday world, when it’s hot, our bodies sweat as a natural cooling mechanism. Let’s face it, sweat sitting on skin feels sticky and damp. Then often, the temptation is to “release” heat by removing clothes or wearing short sleeves, leading to damaging sunburn. Comfortable loose fitting UPF 50+ long sleeves in a wicking fabric transfers sweat away from skin so it can dry, and it creates a small air flow between skin and fabric to keep it cool while protecting against sunburn and UV damage.

While long sleeves can actually keep skin dry and cool, when it’s exceedingly hot, long sleeves are not a replacement for drinking liquids. Medical professionals will always recommend wearing a sun hat, UV clothing, taking frequent shade breaks, using a UV umbrella for portable shade and drinking plenty of hydrating fluids.

So, the next time friends question if you’re too hot in your long sleeves, you have your answer. Recommendations are for sleeves that are loose enough for some air flow. Long sleeve styles like UPF 50+ wraps layered over a tank top or accessories like UPF 50+ scarves channel air in, around and flow heat out, like a bellows. As for the color debate, it appears dark is not an issue as far as staying cool in the deserts. Nor, would we suppose, it be an issue around the pool or on the boat either.

Sources:

Strange, but true: science’s most improbable research, The Guardian.

The heat and the hazard: 9 facts about summer health, The Washington Post.

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Live Wisely

Hawaii Bans Most Sunscreens. How Do I Cover Up?

It’s no secret that the coral reefs of the world are diminishing. From climate change to overfishing, one of Earth’s strongest ecosystems is being destroyed by countless factors. And just to make matters worse, a recently discovered threat may top the list – sunscreen.

For decades, research has proven the vitalness behind basic sunscreen usage. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime. With that statistic alone, there’s no denying the importance, but what environmental cost are we willing to pay?

Should I Not Use Sunscreen Anymore?

To clarify a bit, not all sunscreens are harmful. The two active ingredients in question, oxybenzone and octinoxate, are the main perpetrators and have been linked directly to increased bleaching, genetic damage to the reefs and it’s marine organisms and ultimately irreversible death to the coral. In fact, Hawaii, one of the world’s most popular tourist areas known for its coral reefs, signed the country’s first bill banning sunscreens containing the two destructive chemicals starting January 1st, 2021. The island’s ground-breaking decision even influenced the Western Pacific nation of Palau to take action and many others are expected to join the movement.

So How Am I to Cover Up?

The bills don’t take effect for a couple years but transitioning now will greatly benefit the coral reefs. Although oxybenzone and octinoxate are two of the most common active ingredients found in sunscreens, there are other ingredients that are dermatologist recommended and considered environmentally safe by researchers.

Dr. Monica Scheel, a board-certified dermatologist in Kona, stated that, “Your best sun protection ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.” Also, remember when searching to look for products that are “non-nano”, such as Badger, Coola and MDSolarSciences, because nanoparticles can be consumed by the corals and ultimately cause death.

Along with seeking shade whenever possible and limiting sun exposure, choosing UPF 50+ clothing is also a highly recommended move. Dr. Henry W. Lim, the president of the American Academy of Dermatology, considers UPF 50+ clothing just as effective as sunscreen.

For the environmental specialists, it’s simple. Craig Downs, the executive director of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory that has studied the damage caused by sunscreen on the coral reefs, said, “For women in a bikini, 85% of her body will be covered in sunscreen. She can reduce that by 50% just by wearing a sun shirt.”

Obviously, sunscreen isn’t the only detrimental force attacking the coral reefs of the world, but it is one of the most controllable. That reasoning alone should be more than enough to encourage us all to reevaluate our approach to protecting ourselves in the sun. Together, we can protect the coral reefs.

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Live Wisely What's Hot

2018 Coolibar Guide to Showing Someone You Care

“One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime.”
Skin Cancer Foundation

The need for sun protection is universal. Whether you live in a hot or cold climate or have fair or dark skin, we all need to be mindful of our exposure to UV rays. Coolibar recommends gifting UPF 50+ protection to the people you love most as a way to help them live a sun-safe lifestyle while enjoying the outdoor adventures they love most.

For tiny cuties who already love the water:

“Because babies have thinner skin, sunscreen is not recommended for infants under 6 months of age.”
Skin Cancer Foundation

For the “big kiddos” you love to the sun and back:

“Even one blistering sunburn during childhood or adolescence can nearly double a person’s chance of developing melanoma.”
Skin Cancer Foundation

For the sun protection-resistant men in your life:

“By age 50 men are more likely than women to develop melanoma. This number jumps by age 65 making men two times more likely as women of the same age to get melanoma.”
American Academy of Dermatology

For global-trotting sun seekers:

Travel destinations like Hawaii are starting to ban sunscreens containing chemicals harmful to coral reefs.

For adventures in and on the water:

“Many surfaces reflect UV radiation and add to the overall UV levels you experience. Water reflects 10%; sea foam reflects 25% and sand reflects 15% UV rays.”
– World Health Organization

For the garden party goddess that craves a touch of glamour:

“About 90% of visible skin changes such as aging, wrinkles, brown spots or leathery skin are caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays and can be minimized by sun protective clothing.”
Skin Cancer Foundation

For someone who needs a little extra support:

“Melanoma is not just a skin cancer. It can develop anywhere on the body – eyes, scalp, nails, feet, mouth, etc.”
Melanoma Research Foundation

For EVERYONE spending time in the sun

“For every inch of brim you wear, you reduce your lifetime risk of skin cancer by 10%. So a 6” brim means 60% risk reduction.”
– Skin Cancer Foundation

 

2018 Holiday Gift Guide

 

 

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Live Wisely

My 2 Reasons for Covering Up In the Sun: Perspectives of a Muslim Dermatologist-in-Training

As a Muslim-American female, I am no stranger to being covered in the sun. In accordance with my faith, I wear the hijab. Wearing the hijab does not only involve covering my hair. I also cover my skin—except for my hands, feet and face.

As an all-American girl, I was born and raised on American fashion trends. I have always seen the fabric I wrap around my head as just another accessory piece to complete my outfit of the day. My struggle truly began with Michigan summers on the lake. In accordance with my faith, I couldn’t wear a revealing bathing suit into the water. I shied away from participating in water activities because I often felt embarrassed to jump in—fully covered.

Flash-forward to just a few years ago, when my husband and I were planning a vacation to escape the stresses of my medical school training. I was yearning for some warmth and sunshine but felt anxious about finding modest swimwear that wouldn’t make me a spectacle to strangers on the beach. My online search led me to Coolibar. Finally, I discovered fashionable, modest clothing with the primary purpose of UV sun protection in both fabric and design.

Following graduation from medical school, I began my residency training in dermatology and became extremely passionate about sun protection. To this day, the first skin cancer excisional surgery I performed is very fresh in my memory. The surge of excitement from my role in the treatment was shadowed by the heavy burden of making sure I correctly conveyed the importance of sun protection to prevent future skin cancers.

As a dermatology resident, I’ve come across patients of all ages, ethnicities and walks of life who have skin cancer. Regardless of their background, every single patient is regretful about their time spent unprotected in the sun.

Through personal and medical reasons, I’ve taken Coolibar to heart. Not only because styles offer more skin coverage for sun safety, but their UPF 50+ sun protection is guaranteed for life. I never have to worry about my patients or myself when it comes to exposure to harmful UV rays. I love my Coolibar gear because it provides me modest, stylish and, most importantly, SAFE clothing to wear while outdoors!

Dr. Fatima Fahs gives her reasoning behind why she chooses to cover up in the sun. Dr. Fahs is a dermatology resident in Detroit, Michigan. She enjoys blogging about skin care, mom life and residency on her Instagram page, @dermy_doctor

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Live Wisely

8 Must-Haves in Your Car on a Sunny Day

Whether it’s driving to work, soccer practice or to the in-laws, U.S. drivers average 17,600 minutes in their car each year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. That’s 293 hours! What’s more, passengers spend a significant portion alongside their driving companions. So, review our checklist to see how well your car is packed for your daily commute or the road trip ahead:

 

  1. Sunscreen

While the windshield may block some UV rays, door windows offer limited protection. As a result, most skin cancers occur on the left side of the face and body, the driver’s side. Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVA and UVB) before getting into the driver’s seat. Experts recommend water-resistant SPF 30+ protection. For the safest protection, mineral-based sunscreens with Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide (or a combination of the two) offer natural sun blockers.

  1. Sunglasses

Think of sunglasses as your sunscreen for the eyes. Keep a spare pair in the car for yourself and passengers. Sunlight makes you squint, and that movement contributes to skin wrinkling, but, more importantly, eyes daily exposure to UV rays causes macular degeneration and cataracts. And, the latest news from The Skin Cancer Foundation indicates 5-10% of all skin cancers are eyelid cancers, and the Melanoma Research Foundation points to cases of ocular melanoma. To protect vision health, doctors recommend sunglasses with 100% UV protection.

  1. Umbrella

Whether for rain or shine, a compact travel UV umbrella can be a live saver. Small enough to put in a seat back pocket or a glove box, these little pop-up protectors can help you face whatever Mother Nature has up her sleeve.

  1. Long Sleeves

With those assertive UVA rays coming through car windows, always leave a long sleeve UPF 50+ hoodie or wrap in the car to cover arms. If this isn’t suitable for your everyday life, consider easy alternatives like UPF 50+ sun sleeves or sun gloves that are convenient and quickly removable hand and arm coverage whenever you get behind the wheel.

“Wearing long sleeve clothing, or sunscreen that is ‘broad spectrum’ would be extremely effective and seems indicated on long drives on sunny days.”

-Dr. Paul Nghiem, Head of University of Washington Dermatology

  1. Hat

Have a hat at-the-ready for when you reach your destination. Essential to sun safe practices for protecting your scalp, experts recommend a 3” brim or larger. For every inch of brim, you reduce your lifetime risk of skin cancer by 10%. So, a 6″ brim means a 60% risk reduction.

  1. Phone Charger

In the spirit of automotive preparedness, a phone charger can be a new best friend. In case you need to make a roadside emergency call or even to alert the dog sitter that you’re running late, ensuring you have a full battery on-the-go is essential today. If you have teens driving, insist on a charger so they can update you on whereabouts.

  1. Snacks & Water

Having snacks and water on hand to console kids or boost your own energy makes good sense. Staples that hold up in the car, particularly in extreme temperatures, include granola bars, nuts, trail mix and jerky. If possible, keep a small travel-size cooler or tote in the back to stash snacks and a supply of bottled water. Then mark your calendar to replenish your stores every couple of weeks.

  1. Blankets

Light blankets are multi-purpose pieces with incredible versatility.  Given how UV rays penetrate car windows, a lap blanket can protect upper leg skin while driving. Additionally, on chilly days, it can warm you or your passengers – and it can also block radiant heat coming through windows and overheating skin. People living in snow belt states know to carry a heavy blanket in the trunk for wintery days, and a lightweight UPF 50+ sun blanket for year-round leg coverage when wearing dresses, skirts or shorts.

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Experts Say Live Wisely

10 Ways to Safely Enjoy the Sun

Between soccer games, outdoor concerts, travel and everyday moments, we are experiencing life outside more than ever. So, how can we develop a healthy relationship with the sun and stay safe? Experts recommend you start with these top 10 steps for protecting your family and preventing sun damage:

1. WEAR A WIDE-BRIMMED HAT WHENEVER POSSIBLE

One of the most common places for skin cancer is on the human scalp. A wide-brimmed (3-inch or greater) hat covers places where it is difficult to apply sunscreen, such as the tops of the ears and the back of the neck.  – Skin Cancer Foundation

2. WEAR UV-BLOCKING SUNGLASSES

Ocular melanoma is the most common primary cancer of the eye in adults. Always wear high-quality UV-protective sunglasses whenever outdoors. Good sunglasses should block 100% of the sun’s UV spectrum – Ocular Melanoma Foundation

3. PROTECT YOUR SKIN WITH TRUSTED, TRIED AND TRUE UPF 50+ CLOTHING

Clothing is the best means of sun protection. Choose garments with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) label of 50 or higher to block 98% of all UV rays. A standard white cotton T-shirt will have a UPF of 5-7.  – Skin Cancer Foundation

4. DON’T GET BURNED!

What we call sunlight is technically ultraviolet radiation (UV Rays). In addition to cosmetic concerns like premature aging, wrinkling, leathery skin and unattractive sun spots (90% of which are caused by UV rays), UV rays alter our molecular structure and cause deep damage and skin cancer. In other words—don’t get burned! – American Cancer Society

5. WEAR GLOVES OR SUNSCREEN ON YOUR HANDS YEAR-ROUND

The backs of your hands, like your face, get sun exposure every day. The result: thinning, crinkled skin, dark spots, and skin cancers. Wear gloves or sunscreen year-round.  – Skin Cancer Foundation

6. ALWAYS WEAR THE RIGHT CLOTHES WHEN OUTDOORS

The heat can tempt you to shed clothes, sacrificing sun safety for comfort.  UPF clothing is made of lightweight, high-tech fabrics specially treated to be “breathable” and “sweat-wicking”. – Skin Cancer Foundation

7. WHETHER YOU’RE ON A PLANE, TRAIN, CAR OR BOAT, COVER UP

By law, most front windshields in cars are treated to filter out most UVA rays, but side and rear windows generally aren’t. If you’re flying to your vacation and love the window seat, know that UVA rays come through airplane windows. To be safe, wear sunscreen and sun-protective clothing anytime you’re traveling. Skin Cancer Foundation

8. DIVERSIFY YOUR SUN-PROTECTION ROUTINE

Because exposure to UV light is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, everyone should protect their skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays by seeking shade, wearing protective clothing and using a sunscreen of SPF 30+ on exposed areas. American Academy of Dermatology

9. PROTECT YOURSELF ON OVERCAST DAYS

NEW: Up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds. This is why people often end up with serious sunburns on overcast days if they’ve spent time outside with no sun protection. –Skin Cancer Foundation

10. SHARE YOUR SUN-SAFE HABITS WITH OTHERS, ESPECIALLY CHILDREN

One blistering sunburn can double a child’s lifetime risk of cancer. Protect them with lightweight and breathable sun-protective clothing, ideally long-sleeves and long pants in bright colors. Cover eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses and scalps and necks with broad-brimmed hats with brims 4” around or greater. – Skin Cancer Foundation

 

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Sun Tips (Attachment)

 

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Live Wisely

How to Share Your Skin Cancer Story to Help Others

It’s no secret that personal experience carries more weight than any statistical fact ever will. You could be told repeatedly that you should wear sunscreen, have regular skin checkups and upgrade your clothing to UV protected fabrics, but it doesn’t hold the same true meaning as having someone explain their own painful journey. Over the past 30 years, more individuals have been diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined and there are many ways your story can educate change.

  • Speak openly with family and friends

For many, the journey to open-up can be difficult, but this is the opportunity to help prevent your loved ones from being diagnosed. Emotionally, a cancer diagnosis affects everyone, so words of advice and tips hold value to the people closest to you. Along with the educational aspect, storytelling benefits therapeutically. No experience is the same, but for the most timid of survivors, putting your story into words helps you as much as the ones you love.

  • Share your story online

Remember the desperate searching for answers after your diagnosis? Organizations such as Melanoma Research Foundation and Skin Cancer Foundation want to give you a platform to share your personal story. Regardless of the current state of your skin cancer, your shared experience can too enlighten and support a diagnosed patient with similar circumstances.

  • Get out of your comfort zone

Some people were born courageous; others may have courage thrust upon them. This past May, several brave individuals shared their skin cancer battles in our Let’s Get Gross Campaign—like Judy, a Skin Cancer Warrior, pictured in this blog. There’s no denying images and scars can be difficult to look at, but they are visual cues and awareness-builders of UV over-exposure. Instead of hiding the blemishes, positively take advantage of your social media presence and bravely show the true dark side of skin cancer.

Regardless of your path, remember that you’re in the unique role of educator. With your personal story, you may be able to help prevent skin cancer for people across the globe.

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Live Wisely

6 Ways to Embrace the Joy of Intentional Giving

Whether it’s for anniversaries, birthdays or holidays, the gift-giving ritual is deeply a part of cultures across the globe. Celebrating significant moments merit recognition, and it often arrives wrapped with a bow. For every moment where a gift is given and loved, there is an equal case where the gift didn’t connect with its intended recipient.

According to the American Research Group, we will each spend over $925 for gift-giving this holiday season. What if we could stop, take the time to reflect on the person to whom we are gifting, then truly consider what would bring them joy. Rather than rushing to a department store or feverishly searching online, what if we contemplated what would really enrich their life?

Many shoppers will get caught up in the thought that family members only will feel loved by how many gifts they receive. However, studies prove it’s not the amount, but the intentionality of a gift that brings us closer to the giver. They want the gift of time, experiences or treasured moments.

So, how can you approach intentional gift-giving? Here is one idea expressed six different ways.

TIME. What would a gift of time look like for the people on your list? Is it time so they can have a dinner date with their partner, and you watch their children or new puppy for one Saturday a month? Is it rides to get a medical procedure when they fear to go alone? Is it an afternoon helping weed their garden, even when you hate digging in the dirt? Perhaps, it’s spending a whole evening working on a jigsaw puzzle with them? Time is priceless

SMALL. What if all the gifts you gave needed to fit into a stocking? Putting perimeters around your gift-giving can bring out real creativity. Consider things that would really mean something to the receiver. For the cook, give a secret family recipe for beef stroganoff, a gift card for the ingredients and a new wooden spoon. For the traveler, a bank statement that shows you opened a travel savings account for them with a few dollars deposited to start their dream, a world map and a subscription to a great travel magazine.

HOUSE. What if every gift had a theme to a room in the house that the recipient loves? For example, the crafter, you select only gifts that enhance their craft room – an organizer or a work surface that creates more space for them. For the chef, consider a beautiful new ceramic sauté pan or a unique piece that’s new to kitchen wares. These not only improve their room, but they enrich the experiences they already love.

EXPERIENCE. What if the gift was an experience? It could be big, small, simple or complex, depending on what you really know the receiver would love. For example, a wine tasting for the person who has started to enjoy wines; tickets to a local film festival for the movie buff or a one-on-one museum guided tour by an art lover. Experiences create unforgettable memories, rich meaning and connection for people.

STORIES. What if your gift was a story, played back to the person it’s about? For example, you write or draw a story for your grandmother about the first time you made cookies together. Maybe you record a story you’ve written for your daughter about when she started driving and funny moments in the car. Story-telling can be a powerful gift when carefully planned.

MUSIC. The universal language of nearly all cultures. With all the music platforms available, creating playlists is easier than ever. A thoughtful and meaningful gesture could be a personalized playlist for everyone on your list based on genres they love. After finishing, make the playlists public for everyone to enjoy.

Families spend time over the holidays on vacation, boating, golfing, traveling and relaxing outside. At Coolibar, our mission is to keep the world safe from sun damage. We look at ways to give intentionally so our families can enjoy an enriched outdoor experience, while protected from damaging UV rays. If they are a daily dog walker? We’ve given a top-quality sunscreen and a fun new leash and harness. We’ve given the devoted boater and angler a fishing shirt or featherweight bucket hat to block the sun for hours. This holiday, we wish you the best as you consider the joy of intentional gift-giving.

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Live Wisely

The Evolution of My Days in the Sun

We admit we’re fans of Body Electric, the hit sensation, home exercise series on PBS led by fitness expert Margaret Richard. Impressive with boundless energy, Margaret is an advocate for sun safety, is a believer in protecting your skin, and UPF 50+ clothing is a core part of her health message. With a strong boomer message, Margaret believes everyone can feel strong, and, at 70 years old, Margaret says no one is ever too old to work out or be active. Read about Margaret’s honest story of growing up in the sun-thirsty, golden beaches of Miami, her inspiring philosophy, see some of her Coolibar favorites. She’s an inspiration for us all to love the skin we’re in!

In the 1950’s and 60’s, Miami Beach catered to northern tourists whose vacation goal was to return home with the “golden trophy” of tanned skin. Visitors flocked to the sandy beaches and basted themselves with exotic oils, suntan lotions and the ultimate sure-to-bake formula: baby oil spiked with iodine. To accelerate and promise the maximum skin darkening experience, serious sun devotees added a sun reflector. I grew up surrounded by tourists who proudly wore their sunburns as a tropical paradise “souvenir,” but I knew first-hand how much pain they were in. Their lobster-red skin would soon itch, blister, peel and potentially leave them with a permanent reminder of their days in the Florida sun.

Growing up in Miami Beach, we were not made aware of sunburn prevention or the dangers of overexposure. Other than a thick layer of white zinc oxide covering an already burned red nose, I cannot ever recall protecting my skin while playing all day in the blazing sun. I enjoyed a golden tan throughout my high school and college years in Miami, unaware that sunburns may lead to wrinkles, freckles, age spots, and more serious skin diseases later in life. Looking back, I realize my dark olive skin was the result of endless days in the South Florida sun, burning and tanning my naturally fair-skinned complexion.

My gypsy meanderings led me to Los Angeles, California in 1990, where I promptly joined the ever plush and newly opened, Sports Club LA (SCLA). The SCLA experience featured luxurious amenities, including a rooftop terrace for nude sunbathers. I quickly observed every inch of skin, even sun-tanned derrieres, are not immune to freckles and other forms of skin damage caused by prolonged exposure to the UV rays. By contrast to my beach loving years, I currently reside in New England where the sun does not shine intensely every day. Unlike me, the women in my fitness classes, who have not grown up in sun-prone climates, have unblemished skin on their arms and legs, free from discoloration or freckles. Sunny beach lovers take note, the northern climate does have its perks!

Skin plays an important immunity role in protecting the body because it interfaces with the environment to work as a shield. With overexposure, the sun’s ultraviolet rays (UVA and UVB) permanently alter one’s DNA, creating damage at skin levels where new skin cells are formed. This negative effect on the elastin and collagen fibers in the dermis leads to premature aging. Even more significantly, DNA damage isn’t always visible on the surface and may contribute to skin cancers, including deadly melanoma.

Managing the residual effects of my years of prolonged and repeated sun exposure has caused me to develop a respectful awareness of the sun’s potential threat to the skin, and I’ve actively adopted sun protective measures. I habitually use high quality, broad-spectrum sunscreen to prevent further damage and when Coolibar sun protective hats and clothing came to market, I became an immediate devotee! Wearing garments with UPF 50+ sun protection gives me the freedom to safely enjoy the glorious sun. Today, at age 70, I swim in a Coolibar Active Swim Jacket and Coolibar Swim Tights, both UPF 50+, which means those hard to reach places, often missed by sunscreen, are protected and covered. Yes, I dress differently than other swimmers and certainly more modest, but I feel proud to be the “smart” one during peak sun hours. And, ladies, one other advantage of covering your legs with sun-protective leggings is you can choose to camouflage your legs, even if they are pure perfection!  Shifting my habits to include sun safe practices has allowed me to continue to enjoy my outdoor activities without limitations; pushing myself to be the very best me in the sunshine I love.

Margaret has a daughter, Brooke, 38, a son, Todd, 46, and two grandchildren.  Margaret currently resides in Bridgewater, MA where she is preparing to launch Body Electric streaming videos (on demand). You can also find her past videos on her website

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Experts Say Live Wisely

How Do You Pick a Dermatologist?

Dr. Cynthia Bailey, Dermatologist practicing at Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology Physicians, provided guidelines to unlock the mystery of selecting the right dermatologist.  After a summer of being outside, fall is a great time for scheduling your annual skin exam.

Way to go! You’ve decided to get your skin checked and now you’re about to embark on the first step in the process: picking a dermatologist. For some it’s a daunting task, for others, it’s simple. But everyone could use some general guidelines to get the most out of your visit and skin exam.

With these suggestions, go forth and choose a dermatologist that fits your needs and leaves you feeling confident in your decision.

  • Focus

Each dermatologist has their own specialty or focus. Keep this in mind while you start your search. If you are someone who only needs a skin exam to screen your skin for skin cancer choose a dermatologist who focuses on what you need.

Many dermatologists have diversified their practice to include cosmetic procedures. Along with cosmetic dermatology, it’s important to remember dermatologists diagnose and treat more than 3,000 diseases of the skin, hair, and nails.  Look for a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in melanoma and skin cancer for your full-body skin exam, also known as the Total Body Skin Exam (TBSE).  Reference the American Academy of Dermatology Skin Exam Module for a comprehensive overview of what to expect during your skin exam (TBSE). If you are not interested in certain types of specialties or procedures make sure you factor that in when you are looking for a dermatologist.

  • Referral

 

Get a little help from your friends. Rather than rely on a Google search, ask members of your community. Find out who they see for their TBSE and ask them to share their experience with you. They might be a helpful resource if you can tell them what you are looking for in your skin exam and future needs.

If one name does not bubble up as a frequent recommendation in your area, use this find a dermatologist resource from the American Academy of Dermatology as a starting point for a skin cancer specialist in your neighborhood. In the search line of this site, enter “skin cancer” for a list of physicians who treat skin cancer near you.  This physician listing will also indicate the doctor’s accepted insurance, as well as hospital affiliations and patient reviews/star ratings if any have been entered.

  • Clarity

When you call to schedule your TBSE, be precise about what you are looking to accomplish during your appointment and that an appropriate visit type and amount of time has been scheduled. Be very clear with the scheduler and ask the right questions to insure you make the most of your exam visit. When you are clear about what you want to get out of a visit it helps the dermatologist focus.  I liken this analogy to that of a chef.  “Dermatologists treat thousands of diseases and generally specialize in just a few.”  When someone is coming in for a TBSE, I know what we are doing during the appointment. If it is vague, your dermatologist may not know what to expect out of the visit.

Here are some key questions to ask:

  1. What types of conditions does the doctor frequently treat?

(You are looking for an expert in finding and treating skin cancers. An emphasis on acne, rashes or esthetics may be considered for a future appointment but keep your skin check appointment focused on early skin cancer detection. Save the rest of your concerns for a return appointment because your time is limited.)

  1. How long will the appointment take?

(The more moles you have the longer the exam may take. The average full body, head-to-toe exam should take about 10 minutes.)

  1. How does the doctor document suspicious “spots,” freckles or moles for their patients? (Some doctors take a photograph or measure the suspicious “spot” and take inventory of any findings in the patient record as baseline reference. This is a good practice to confirm for your visit.)

 

  • Advocacy

 

You are your own best health advocate. Be assertive and make the most of your 10-minute exam because early detection is key.  If you feel the dermatologist is missing the reason for your visit, remind them that you are there for a skin check.

Use these suggestions to schedule your next skin exam. When we think of melanoma prevention, we often think of the usual: using sunscreen, covering up, not burning, avoiding tanning beds, etc. But did you know that finding a suspicious mole or spot and having it checked out by a professional is considered one of the most important steps to preventing melanoma? Detecting melanoma, when it’s early enough to treat, could mean the difference between life and a life-threatening illness.

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