How Important is Healthy Skin?

Did you know your skin is the largest organ in your body? Your skin protects you, tells you a lot about your overall health, and it grows and changes with you throughout your life. Our skin has a big job to do, which is why keeping skin healthy is so important.

Here are some useful tips to keep your skin healthy at every age.

Pay Attention to Dry Skin

Dry skin can be the result of environmental factors, or it can be because of what is happening inside our bodies. Either way, pay attention to it and hydrate your skin. Drinking a lot of water – 8 glasses – throughout the day, is one of the best things you can do for your skin (and other parts of your body!).

Dry skin can also become a problem if not treated with itching, flaking, even bleeding from dry skin. Many of us in Arizona have to deal with “hard water”, or water heavy in calcium and magnesium. This can make it harder for soap to wash off your skin, so spend a few extra seconds rinsing your hands, face, and body. Moisturize with ointments, creams or lotions after showers, baths, and handwashing, but make sure they don’t contain alcohol which can have the opposite effect.

Baby’s Skin Can Have Different Needs

Babies are a wonder, and so is their skin! Baby acne, birthmarks, diaper rash, hives, eczema, and others are common in babies, but they are things all new parents and caregivers should be familiar with. The American Academy of Dermatology Association has detailed information about these conditions and many more. If you ever have questions about your baby’s skin, talk to your NOAH provider.

Protect Your Skin from the Sun

The great news is that sunscreen is both the easiest and best way to protect your skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. Try for SPF 30 and wear it all year on whatever part of you isn’t protected by clothing – think hands, arms, face, even the tops of your ears. Sun can cause skin aging and increase the risk for certain types of skin cancer.

Everyone deals with some types of skin troubles during their life. Whether it is acne, blackheads, rashes, or dry skin, it is helpful to know how to protect your skin and when it’s time to call your provider. If you have any questions, make an appointment with your provider.

Seasonal Affective Disorder in the Sunshine? You Bet!

By Katelyn Millinor, LPC | Behavioral Health Quality Manager

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that happens or changes with the season, with symptoms lasting 4 to 5 months every year. And while many people associate SAD with dark, cold, winter months, people living in sunny Central Arizona can and do suffer from SAD just like everyone else, but ours usually happens when temperatures heat up.

Get ready! Things are about to heat up—but probably not your mood. 

Desert dwellers, like residents in the Valley of the Sun, tend to thrive in the winter months engaging in time outdoors. However, when summer months come, the extreme heat and sun can take a toll on our bodies and our mood. Millions of Americans suffer from SAD but may not recognize the have the condition.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms

Symptoms may differ based on season and for summer Seasonal Affective Disorder, symptoms may include:

  • trouble sleeping
  • poor appetite
  • restlessness
  • irritability
  • anxiety

To read more about symptoms, visit the National Institutes of Mental Health on Seasonal Affective Disorder. Additionally, if you already have depression or anxiety, this seasonal change could worsen your symptoms.  

Since the timing of SAD is predictable with the seasons, you may be able to get ahead of by doing preventative care to help with symptoms. Ways to reduce or help symptoms can include talking with your primary care provider, a counselor, a nutritionist, or a psychiatric provider. One of the best things you and your counselor or other provider can help you with is developing coping skills and understanding the signs and symptoms that may be helpful to jump start your seasonal self-care routine.

For most people, staying cool, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, and socialization can reduce symptoms.

Talk to your NOAH healthcare provider if you begin to experience SAD or have questions about this or other health, wellness, or mental health issues you may be facing.

Are Your Vaccines Up to Date?

If you’re a parent you’ve likely discussed vaccinations on a regular basis with your child’s healthcare provider. Schools and other youth programs may have even required proof of vaccination prior to your child attending.

Who Should Get Vaccinated?

As we get older and focus on other priorities when we visit our healthcare providers, it’s easy for vaccinations to fall off the radar, but immunization benefits older people too. Vaccines can prevent infection-related cancers caused by viruses like hepatitis and HPV, and protect the health of the working population, the elderly, and others who may be more prone to, or experience severe complications from, infection. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a handy tool to determine which vaccines you should consider based on your age and risk factors. This can be a great starting point and reminder to discuss vaccines with your healthcare provider.

Why Should You Get Vaccinated?

While getting vaccinated against infectious disease is sometimes a personal choice, there’s proof that immunization saves lives and protects people’s health. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the death rate for children under the age of five worldwide declined by almost 25% between 2010 and 2017. Measles vaccines alone prevented 25.5 million deaths since 2000 and polio vaccines have brought cases down by over 99% in the last 35 years. We’re fortunate to have had access to these vaccines in the United States for decades but many underdeveloped countries experience limited vaccine availability and use due to lack of funding and proper education.    

Your Choice to Get Vaccinated Affects Others

With COVID, we all experienced and continue to live with the disruptive and costly effects of a worldwide pandemic. With the development and distribution of a vaccine to prevent the spread of COVID, our children have gone back to school, social events and travel have resumed and the number of people losing their lives to COVID has been greatly reduced. It didn’t happen overnight and we only began to see significant changes once a large percentage of the population was vaccinated. Establishing wide-spread immunity is critical to fighting infectious disease so those choosing to not get vaccinated can affect everyone’s chance of survival.

In recognition of World Immunization Week April 24-30, NOAH urges you to make time to review the vaccination recommendations for yourself and your family, consult with your healthcare provider about any questions or concerns and, if vaccination is right for you, take a step toward ensuring Long Life for All.

Click or call 480-882-4545 to schedule an appointment to discuss with your healthcare provider.

Q&A: Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections

Sexually transmitted diseases and infections (STDs and STIs) often have no symptoms but can lead to chronic health conditions if left undiagnosed or untreated. That’s why it is so important to get tested at least once and on a regular basis if you are more at risk due to multiple sexual partners or unprotected sex.

NOAH healthcare provider and STD, STI, and HIV expert Sarah DeRubeis gives answers to commonly asked questions about prevention, testing, and treatment.

Q. How does NOAH test for STDs, STIs and HIV?

A. To test for all STDs, STIs, and HIV, you will need a visual exam, blood draw and urine analysis; all of which can be performed at any NOAH health center.

Q. Is there one test for everything or does someone need to request to be tested for each disease specifically?

A. Each test can be ordered individually. However, most providers order a full panel for patients who have had an exposure or are wanting a screening for STDs, STIs, and HIV.

Q. Is an appointment required?

A. An appointment is required with a health care provider to get an order for STD, STI and HIV testing.

Q. How much does testing cost?

A. There is typically no cost to the patient if the testing is completed as part of a visit with a NOAH healthcare provider.

Q. How long does it take to get results?

A. Timing of results varies based on the type of test. Results for Rapid HIV testing are usually available in as little as 20 minutes. The STD and STI testing with urine and blood can take two to three business days to report and a skin biopsy can take up to seven days.

Q. Who should get tested and how often?

A. Every patient who is sexually active or otherwise at risk should get tested for STDs, STIs and HIV. NOAH providers recommend patients get tested yearly or before engaging in sexual activity with new partners. Even if you don’t have risk factors, it’s a good idea to get tested at least once.    

Q. What are typical treatments if someone tests positive?

A. Most STDs, STIs and even HIV can be treated or even cured with prescription medication. Getting tested and diagnosed is the first step in treating the issue AND preventing it from spreading to others.

Q. If someone tests positive for an STD, STI, or HIV and is treated elsewhere, is it important to share this info with their NOAH health care provider?

A. STD, STI, and HIV testing, diagnosis, and treatment should always be reported to your healthcare provider. This information should be provided as part of your standard health history questionnaire which is completed at your first appointment.

Q. What are the best ways to prevent STDs, STIs, and HIV?

A. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends all individuals who are sexually active protect themselves and others from exposure to STDs, STIs, and HIV. Prevention methods include testing regularly for STDs, STIs, and HIV, using condoms or choosing not to have sex, and refraining from any other risky behavior. There are also vaccines available for human papillomavirus (HPV) and hepatitis B. To reduce the risk of contracting HIV, patients should also consider taking daily pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) HIV prevention medication.  

We encourage you to discuss STD, STI, and HIV testing and prevention with your NOAH healthcare provider. Learn even more about awareness, prevention, and testing for STDs, STIs and HIV in this informative article.