Long summer days call us outdoors, and that means skin is more vulnerable than ever. From mosquito bites and bee stings to sunburn and scraped knees, our skin is subject to much more potential harm during the summer.
We all know that we must wear sunscreen to help protect us from the sun’s radiation. Is sunlight itself a bad thing? Of course not. The issue, many believe, is the shrinking of the ozone layer, earth’s natural sunscreen, which filters the most harmful radiation. When the ozone layer is healthy, we’re better protected from and in balance with the sun. We need its healing rays to not only nourish plants and animals but to activate vitamin D in our bodies. When we protect ourselves from the sun, we’re also potentially robbing ourselves of vital vitamin D. So what are we to do?
Dr. Elaine Gilmore helps us understand more about vitamin D – the role it plays in our body’s functioning and how to ensure we get enough while still protecting our skin. And if you plan on cool dips in lakes or oceans this summer, Dr. Gilmore has information about microorganisms that can cause itchy rashes inside your swimsuit and out and how to treat them. She has more fascinating insights about summer skin hazards, including unusual cross-reactions and allergies you may experience from spending time in your flower garden.
With increasing numbers of people seeking laser treatments to restore a more youthful appearance to sun-damaged or aging skin, laser surgery has become its own (unregulated) industry, spawning growing numbers of “laser salons.” Dr. Ramsey Markus gives us a guide to evaluating your laser treatment options to make sure you get the result you want – and not end up needing to be “fixed.”
Summer activity may prompt us to use more personal care products such as antiperspirants, body lotions, and cosmetics. Dr. Jodi Markus, a mother of 2 preschoolers, has tuned into the important debate about the petrochemicals in many of the most common personal care brands. Dr. Markus encourages us to learn more about the risks we may be taking with our health as we freely use personal care products on ourselves and our children.
Even in the lazy days of summer, everyday stress doesn’t take a vacation, especially in these troubled times – and it may be taking quite a toll on the health of our skin. Dr. Adam Rotunda reminds us that chronic stress severely impairs a healthy immune system, making it easier for skin conditions, from eczema and rashes to viral and fungal infections, to take hold and strengthen. Put some stress relief into your plans, and you just may find that your skin is less stressed, too!
And this month, as we celebrate our amazing country's legacy of freedom for all, how about considering the freedom to choose HEALTH over health care? Freedom has given us perhaps too many choices (including fast food, cigarettes, sugary snacks, and hundreds of TV channels). What we’re missing is the flip side of freedom – responsibility. Our burgeoning health care system is so costly because too many of us are sick with conditions we could have prevented.
This 4th of July, as we pledge allegiance to our free country, let’s reflect on our responsibility to ourselves, our families, and our communities to take charge of our own health and well-being. While genetics and misfortune account for some of our ills, we have control over most other contributing factors. Our habits, good and bad, impact our health. Health care costs directly correlate to a population’s willingness to become active participants in their own health profile.
One of the most patriotic things we can do is take another pledge – to take control of our own health and destiny. That one act – getting healthy and staying healthy – would relieve an overburdened health care system, save billions of health care dollars every year, and leave us more personally empowered.
That’s a big responsibility. Are you ready to take the pledge?
Dr. Andrea Pennington