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July 29, 2014

// Unwanted Fat

Inspiring A Healthy Back-To-School Experience

Now, before we even get started, please allow us to state that we are well aware that there is still plenty of summer left to go! (Those of us that love the summertime keep telling ourselves that anyway). But you know that a back-to-school blog was going to rear its head eventually, right? To all of the parents out there who are already planning for their kids to return to school in September, this one’s for you!

You see, back-to-school planning needs to start weeks in advance. In order to adequately prepare your child for that first day of school, you need to shop for clothing, books, supplies and other necessities so that your children are all ready to go when the big day comes. One of the things, however, that we often forget to think about is back-to-school nutrition. After all, when our kids are in school all day long, can we really control what they are eating?

Yes, we have a responsibility to make their lunches. But how can we instil good eating habits so that those lunches aren’t being traded away for sugary snacks and drinks when we’re not looking? As Jason Machowsky writes on Nutrition411.com, “while it is easy for us to regulate what our children eat when they are young, we cannot always control the in-class birthday parties, candy-based fund-raisers, and midday snacks.”

He goes on to note that “studies have shown that the habits we start during childhood and adolescence often carry on into adulthood.” So how can we prepare our children to succeed, not just with their schoolwork, but with their nutrition as well? One way to do that, says Machowsky, is to learn the school’s policies on snacks. Are they allowed to snack in class? Do they have fundraisers that promote the sale of candy or chocolate?

Knowing the “snack culture” of a school can go a long way in helping your child create healthy habits. And on Naturopathic.org, Dr. Daemon Jones adds that you can encourage your child’s healthy habits by changing their food options on a daily basis. It should come as no surprise that “Dr. Dae” recommends the avoidance of junk food in their lunches and the heavy inclusion of fruits and vegetables.

He goes on to offer up a few ideas on how to get your kids to enjoy eating their fruits and veggies. “Cut up fruits into bit size pieces and put them on a tray or in containers where they have access to see them and eat them,” writes Dr. Dae, “Vegetables, carrot sticks, snap peas or zucchini sticks can be a wonderful snack by having a tasty salsa or yogurt dip with cinnamon or other spices.”

He also suggests creating healthy pizzas and quesadillas by using whole wheat tortillas that substitute the standard cheese and meat toppings for hummus, carrots, tomatoes, lettuce and bell peppers. As well, smoothies are usually big hits with kids. Dr. Dae notes that they are great as either snacks or breakfasts. Allow your children to pick their favourite fruits and whip up a great shake before school each day.

Lastly, it’s important not to forget that children will tend to mimic what their parents do. So perhaps, there is no better piece of advice to give than to eat healthy yourself! Losing weight, staying fit and avoiding an increased risk of heart disease are all excellent reasons to improve your nutritional habits. But there’s no better reason than inspiring your kids to live healthy lives themselves. Here’s hoping your back-to-school experience next month is the healthiest one yet!

July 22, 2014

// Hair Removal

Doing Away With The Perils Of Shaving

For most people, enjoying the warmth and sunshine that comes along with the glorious summertime includes being able to spend time outdoors with next to nothing on! Obviously, being able to take dips in the pool isn’t something that we can do all year round. The summer has to be enjoyed to its fullest, right? That means we can’t be wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants all summer long!

Well, even though good advice points us in the direction of covering up, most people still find it mandatory to bask in the sun’s rays when the days are warm. And it’s hard to blame them. This is why the use of appropriate sunscreen is so crucial. A lot of people believe, however, that sunscreen isn’t the only thing needed to be applied to the skin before heading outside. A razor also seems to be considered a mandatory requirement.

“‘Tis the season to be smooth”, one might say. When showing off our skin underneath the sun, it’s common for us to want it to be as hairless as possible. But this presents an entirely different skin problem, long before we start subjecting it to the sun’s UV rays. Hair removal processes, as we all know, can be quite painstaking. And while shaving is the most common, it also tends to present the most problems.

Razor burn. As if it wasn’t bad enough that sun exposure can burn our skin, shaving it, in order to get as smooth as possible, can create a burn long before we’ve gone outside. As explained by Nikita Mukherjee on MensXP.com, razor burn “are the patches of red, irritated skin that appear within minutes of shaving (which are) mostly caused by using a blunt blade, dry shaving or shaving too fast.”

Ingrown hairs. These are never any fun. Not only are they generally unsightly, but they tend to cause a lot of discomfort and irritation as well. “Improper shaving techniques are the major cause of ingrown hairs,” writes Dr. Gary W. Cole on OnHealth.com, “Although an ingrown hair is primarily caused by improper or aggressive hair removal, it sometimes occurs naturally as too much dead skin debris blocks the hair follicle opening, causing the hair to grow sideways.”

Razor bumps. This is also a common occurrence after shaving, especially for those who have sensitive skin. “Closely shaven hair has a sharp edge that can penetrate the skin, resulting in inflammation and swelling,” explains HowStuffWorks.com, “This reaction—a normal bodily defence mechanism—is similar to the kind of reaction that occurs when you get a splinter in your finger.”

Nicks and cuts. For most people, the idea of smooth and silky skin doesn’t come along with the appearance of nicks and cuts all over it. “The last thing you want is to look like a ravaged warrior in the very start of the day,” writes Mukherjee, “Nicks and cuts can occur when your blade is too dull, or alternatively, is fresh out of the packet and too much pressure has been applied while shaving.”

As you may have guessed, there is a solution to all of the problems that come along with shaving. Treating your skin to a laser hair removal process can do away with all of the above mentioned perils for good. Not to mention, keep your skin silky and smooth long past the summer season. At Aurora Medical Laser & Vein Centre, we use the LightSheer™ Hair Laser which is considered a revolutionary treatment in the management of unwanted hair.

For more information, or to set up an appointment, please call 403-358-5818 or email us at info@auroralaser.net.

July 15, 2014

// Unwanted Moles

Taking Steps To Avoid The Risk Of Melanoma

Here’s hoping that you are truly having a blast with summer so far! Of course, the more time you spend with family and friends, the more likely you are to be having a good time. And most would say that the more that time is being spent outdoors in the warmth and sunshine, the better your summer will be. That may be true for the most part. But if you’re not taking measures to protect your skin while out in the sun, your summer may not be so fun after all.

Protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays does a lot more for your health than just help to prevent sunburn. Applying sunscreen, making use of the shade, wearing hats, sunglasses and long sleeves in addition to following other safety measures are all cancer-preventing practices. And often, we can tell if someone is at risk of skin cancer based on the damage done to their skin. To reiterate, it’s not just sunburn that we’re looking for.

Melanoma – a deadly type of skin cancer – can often show in the form of moles. On the Cancer Research UK Blog, Ed Yong explains. “Our skin gets its colour because melanocytes – specialized cells found in our skin – produce a dark pigment called melanin,” he writes, “When our skin is exposed to sunlight, these cells make more melanin and our skin darkens and tans.” But to most people, a tan is a good thing. So how is it that skin darkening is dangerous?

“A melanoma is a type of cancer that develops from melanocytes; it’s what happens when these cells develop mutations – changes in their DNA – that make them grow out of control,” Yong describes, “This is why people with more moles (clusters of melanocytes) have a higher risk of melanoma. In fact, one study found that melanoma is almost 7 times more common in people with over 100 moles, compared to those with fewer than 15 moles.”

So it’s not just about sunburn after all. Yong notes that limiting your sun exposure is the ideal way to avoid the appearance of moles that may be signs of melanoma. People who have noticeable moles on their skin should have doctors examine them to determine whether or not they have melanoma. However, limiting your sun exposure is an important practice if you wish to avoid the appearance of moles on your skin in the future.

“There’s solid evidence that sun exposure can play a role in the development of moles in the first place,” writes Yong, “And some trials have shown that staying safe in the sun can reduce the number of new moles developing on children’s skin.” He reminds us, however, that moles don’t automatically equate to melanoma. There are other signs that one may be at risk for skin cancer, which further underscore the point that protection from the sun is necessary.

So what other factors can contribute to one’s risk of skin cancer? According to Yong, fair skin is among them as it burns more easily. People who rarely take measures to protect their skin and have a history of sunburn are also at high risk. In addition, red or fair hair, light-coloured eyes and a family history of skin cancer are all contributing factors to melanoma. Don’t forget, however, that all traits are related to one’s exposure to the sun.

Perhaps, one of the most important pieces of information that can be divulged to lovers of the sun – because let’s be honest, how many people don’t enjoy being outdoors during the summer? – is the fact that moles are NOT death sentences. In fact, there is a mole-removing solution that is both very safe and effective. At the Aurora Medical Laser & Vein Centre, we use The VariLite Laser to remove moles as well as skin tags and other pigmented skin spots.

For more information or to book a consultation, please don’t hesitate to call us at 403-358-5818.

July 8, 2014

// Skin Care

5 Ways To Avoid The Harmful Effects Of Tanning Season

With summer now in full swing, it marks the perfect time of year to go outdoors and work on our tans, right? Wrong. Yes, we know that warm weather and sunshine makes us all want to shed those extra layers of clothing in order to get that golden glow that so many of us consider beautiful. But tanning, it should be stated quite frankly, is horrible for your health. Getting a golden brown tan is not worth the risk of skin cancer, is it?

In fact, SkinCancer.org puts it very matter-of-factly. “Never seek a tan,” reads the website, “There is no such thing as a healthy tan. A tan is the skin’s response to the sun’s damaging rays. Stay away from tanning parlours and artificial tanning devices. The UV radiation emitted by indoor tanning lamps is many times more intense than natural sunlight. Dangers include burns, premature aging of the skin, and the increased risk of skin cancer.”

When it comes right down to it, the whole idea of tanning seems pretty silly, doesn’t it? Why would we want to bake our own skin? Why would we want to put ourselves at risk of getting a life-threatening disease? We wouldn’t. Yet, when the sun is out, so many of us can’t wait to get underneath it without protection. And that’s where a compromise must come in. No one is saying to stay indoors during the summer. What fun is that?

The fact of the matter is we must all take measures to properly protect our skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays in order to avoid greater risks of skin cancer. So how does the compromise work? Well, we can all go outside, of course, but we need to limit our skin’s exposure to direct sunlight. This is especially true during the times of the day when the sun’s rays are at its strongest. That’s somewhere between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. But what else can we do?

1. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. It may not sound ideal, but it’s best for your overall health. According to SkinCancer.org, “tightly woven fabrics and dark colors, such as deep blue and black, or bright colors, such as orange and red, offer more protection. If you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can get through too. Water makes fabrics more translucent, so do not rely on a wet T-shirt.”

2. Wear a broad-brimmed hat. We often forget to protect our heads from the sun, assuming that our hair will do the trick. However, as the website points out, a broad-brimmed hat will help prevent skin cancer from occurring in our “often-exposed areas like the neck, ears, scalp, and face. Opt for a 3-4 inch brim that extends all around the hat. Baseball caps and visors shade the face but leave neck, lower face, and ears exposed.”

3. Wear UV-blocking sunglasses. Just like our heads, our eyes need protection as well. For maximum protection, you don’t want to rely on any old pair of shades. SkinCancer.org recommends that you try “wraparound or large frames protect your eyelids and the sensitive skin around your eyes, common sites for skin cancer and sun-induced aging. Sunglasses also help reduce the risk of cataracts later in life.”

4. Wear sunscreen. As if you didn’t know that wearing sunscreen was important already, on HuffingtonPost.com, Dana Oliver lists five reasons why should always have some on. They include the fact that the depleting ozone layer makes our bodies more susceptible to harmful UV rays, skin cancer rates are on the rise, facial brown spots can be prevented, facial red lines and blotchiness can be reduced and sunscreen can slow down wrinkling and other signs of aging.

5. Seek the shade. When all else fails, take cover! Remember, by the way, that UV rays have the ability to bounce. That means that if you are near reflective surfaces, you may still be susceptible to skin damage, as pointed out by SkinCancer.org. The site goes on to note that each of these recommended practices should be taught to children so that proper skin care and safety is learned at an early age, making them habits in adulthood.

July 2, 2014

// Spider Veins

6 Summer Solutions To Spider Veins

Yay! Summer’s here! And things have definitely heated up. Clearly, that means that shorts, skirts and sandals are becoming the garments of choice these days. It’s all things “S”, we suppose, as the summer truly encourages us all to show more of our skin. That is true, of course, for those who feel comfortable showing their skin. Because, for some of us, there is another “S” that tends to ruin the summer fun: spider veins.

Yes, those nasty spider veins keep many of us from wearing those shorts and skirts that show off our legs. But they shouldn’t have to. In fact, there are a number of things we can all do to minimize or even diminish the appearance of spider veins in our legs. Now, that it’s summertime, these methods are more important than ever. Here are six summer solutions to summer veins.

1. Drink lots of water. You’re going to hear this tip all summer long, simply because staying hydrated is beneficial to your health for countless reasons. When it comes to spider veins, however, drinking water can help to improve your blood circulation. As well, the fact that it will keep you cooler will help for your spider veins to be encouraged to stay at bay. No matter how you slice it, staying hydrated is a key component to good health.

2. Elevate your feet. The summer heat is bound to zap your energy, so you’re bound to want to take advantage of any opportunity you have to relax. When you find the time, prop your feet up on some pillows to allow for gravity to help with the circulation of blood in your legs. Try to locate different moments of the day when you can practice this routine for at least a few minutes at a time. You don’t want to stay in any one position for too long.

3. Take breaks while traveling. It’s not so easy to move around during travel time. With summer being an obvious time for most people to make travel plans, it usually entails long periods of sitting in cars, planes or buses. Do yourself and favour and stop or get up to take a short walk so that you can reduce the stress and strain you are putting on the veins in your legs. You may notice a little pattern developing here revolving around blood circulation.

4. Keep cool. As much as most people love the hot weather, they enjoy finding ways to stay cool just as much. Heat can cause spider veins to become dilated, so do what you can to cool things down. Take a dip in the pool, try to avoid being in the sun during the hottest times of the day, take cover under the shade and take time to rest during periods of activity. These are all important steps to take to promote good health of your veins.

5. Take walks. Remember the importance of blood circulation. During cooler portions of the day, get up and get some exercise. This will get your blood flowing so that spider veins aren’t given the opportunity to allow stress to bring them to the surface. As you can imagine, exercise is a good health tip no matter what condition you’re trying to improve. So taking steps (literally) to diminish spider veins is just plain good for you!

6. Sclerotherapy. When all else fails, there is a proven treatment that can help you to get rid of those unsightly spider veins. If you’d like a summer when wearing shorts and skirts isn’t an embarrassing undertaking, this fascinating procedure just may be for you! Sclerotherapy is actually known as “gold standard” when it comes eliminating spider veins. For more information, please contact the Aurora Medical Laser & Vein Centre at 403-358-5818.