With the snow we had in late April, it may be hard to believe, but warmer weather in Michigan is just around the corner! I’m sure we are all looking forward to putting away our heavy coats and snow boots, and enjoying some sunshine.

Those who already know me and the rest of our providers at IHA Dermatology may get a chuckle from that previous sentence, particularly the part about “enjoying sunshine,” given how often we stress to our patients the importance of protecting oneself from the sun and using sunscreen regularly.

As some of you may know, the month of May has been designated Skin Cancer Awareness Month, which makes it an ideal time to remind our family, friends, and colleagues to become educated about the importance of protecting our body’s largest organ, the skin.

To illustrate why this is such an important topic, I’ll share with you some facts and figures that are nicely summarized in websites for the American Academy of Dermatology and the Skin Cancer Foundation, where you can find even more information about this serious subject.

Did you know that skin cancer is by far the most commonly diagnosed cancer, with more than 3.5 million cases diagnosed in the U.S. each year? In fact, more new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed yearly than the combined incidences of lung, breast, colon, and prostate cancer.

Of particular concern, about 140,000 cases of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, will be diagnosed this year, and on average, one American dies from melanoma every hour. Unfortunately, the incidence of skin cancer is rising, particularly in younger people and in women, and melanoma is now the leading cause of cancer death in women ages 25 to 30. The good news is that most skin cancers are preventable and the vast majority can be cured relatively easily, especially if they are diagnosed and treated early.

That is why we recommend that everyone seek protection from the sun by wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more, and reapplying sunscreen at least every 2-3 hours. Staying shaded and wearing sun-protective clothing whenever possible is also very helpful. Tanning and using tanning beds are harmful, and if you are worried about cosmetics at all, be aware that tanning and excessive sun exposure ages your skin dramatically.

To aid in early detection of skin cancer, we also suggest that you become familiar with your own skin and check yourself about monthly for any spots, bumps, moles, or lesions that look different from the rest, or are changing in any concerning way, such as by bleeding, itching, not healing, or growing rapidly. For those with a lot of moles, you can use your handy cell phone cameras to take pictures and look at them monthly to see if any have changed.

In addition to performing self-skin examinations regularly, it is generally a good idea to have yearly full skin evaluations by your board-certified dermatologist or primary care physician.

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. On behalf of IHA and IHA Dermatology, we hope you have a warm, fun, and most importantly, healthy May and summer. Bring on the sunshine (and sunscreen)!

With the recent snow that blew through and the temperatures that are going to stay low over the next few days, many of us are still digging out our cars or way out of our driveways. Anyone can end up with frostbite or hypothermia, it’s important to know the risks of frostbite and hypothermia, especially for those that are at higher risk and are more susceptible to extremely cold weather. Some groups that be at higher risk include:

  • Very young children and our older senior population
  • Diabetic patients and other with conditions leading to poor circulation
  • Patients with heart conditions or those who take beta blockers

Don’t Ignore Shivering!

When you’re exposed to cold temperatures your body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will use up your body’s energy, resulting in hypothermia. Some warning signs of hypothermia include:
  • Shivering
  • Exhaustion
  • Confusion
  • Trembling hands
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred Speech
  • Drowsiness

If you notice any of these signs, please seek immediate medical attention.

Frostbite is literally the freezing of body tissue; fingers, toes, ears and nose are the most vulnerable. Frostbite is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, or shorter exposure to extremely cold temperatures. The warning signs of frostbite are:

  • Red or pale skin
  • Prickling
  • numbness

Frostbite and hypothermia can be prevented; here are some tips to help keep you safe:

  • Limit the time you’re outside in cold, wet or windy weather
  • Stay well hydrated
  • Dress in several layers of loose, warm clothing
  • Wear a hat or headband that fully covers your ears
  • Wear mittens rather than gloves
  • Wear socks and liners that fit well and wick moisture
  • Keep moving

 

 

 

When preparing for vacation most people choose to focus on what to pack, their itinerary and what attractions they want to visit. But what about required and recommended vaccinations? Most people are aware of the need for Yellow Fever vaccines if you’re heading to Africa or South America, but do you know what you might need if you’re headed to Boreno or Mexico?

Travel medicine is a growing niche within healthcare. Meeting with a travel medicine provider allows you and your family to receive tailored immunizations and prescriptions based on current health, medical history, travel plans and past immunizations.