Corns and Calluses — Diagnosis and Treatment

Understanding Corns and Calluses — Diagnosis and Treatment

Articles On Corns and Calluses

Corns and Calluses

Corns and Calluses — Understanding Corns and Calluses — Diagnosis and Treatment

How Do I Know If I Have a Corn or Callus?

To find out whether a hard patch of skin is a callus or a wart, your doctor will scrape some skin off the affected area.

When the superficial skin is scraped off, warts bleed in a characteristic pattern. Calluses do not; they just reveal more dead skin.

Warts are viral and require specific treatment. Most corns and calluses are corrected by a variety of measures, including a change in shoes, trimming of the calluses, and sometimes surgery.

What Are the Treatments for Corns and Calluses?

Most corns and calluses gradually disappear when the friction or pressure stops, although your doctor may shave the top of a callus to reduce the thickness. Properly positioned moleskin pads can help relieve pressure on a corn. Most foot doctors discourage the use of over-the-counter salicylic-acid corn remedies. When applied improperly, these corn «plasters» can create a chemical skin burn in healthy tissue around the corn and cause infections and ulcers (which is a hole through the skin) in patients with diabetes, poor circulation, or numbness in their feet.

Oral antibiotics generally clear up infected corns, but pus may have to be drained through a small incision.

Moisturizing creams may help soften the skin and remove cracked calluses. Apply the moisturizing cream to the callus and cover the area overnight with a plastic bag or a sock — but only if instructed to do so by your doctor. Then gently rub off as much of the callus as you can with a coarse towel or soft brush. Using a pumice stone first to rub off the dead skin from a callus after a bath or shower and then applying moisturizing cream can also be effective.

There are also stronger creams containing urea that might be more effective, but don’t use these unless recommended by your doctor. Don’t bother with hydrocortisone creams, which only help with rashes and itching and are notВ needed for calluses.

You can consider surgery to remove a plantar callus, but there are no guarantees that the callus won’t come back. A conservative approach is best initially. Keep the feet dry and friction-free. Wear properly fitted shoes and cotton socks, not wool or synthetic fibers that might irritate the skin.

If a podiatrist or orthopedist thinks your corn or callus is caused by abnormal foot structure, walking motion, or hip rotation, orthopedic shoe inserts or surgery to correct foot deformities may help correct the problem.

Sources

SOURCES:
The Mayo Clinic.
Community Health Care Medical Library.

www.webmd.com

Snoring

Snoring is very common and is not usually caused by anything serious. There are things you can do to help yourself if it’s a problem.

Causes of snoring

Snoring is caused by things such as your tongue, mouth, throat or airways in your nose vibrating as you breathe.

It happens because these parts of your body relax and narrow when you’re asleep.

You’re more likely to snore if you:

  • are overweight
  • smoke
  • drink too much alcohol
  • sleep on your back

Sometimes it’s caused by a condition like sleep apnoea, which is when your airways become temporarily blocked as you sleep.

How you can help relieve snoring yourself

Simple lifestyle changes can help stop or reduce snoring.

try to lose weight if you’re overweight

sleep on your side – try taping a tennis ball to the back of your sleepwear, or buy a special pillow or bed wedge to help keep you on your side

consider asking your partner to use earplugs if your snoring affects their sleep

do not drink too much alcohol

do not take sleeping pills – these can sometimes cause snoring

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • lifestyle changes are not helping
  • your snoring is having a big impact on your or your partner’s life
  • you feel sleepy during the day, or make gasping or choking noises while you sleep – you may have sleep apnoea, which can be serious if not treated

Coronavirus update: how to contact a GP

It’s still important to get help from a GP if you need it. To contact your GP surgery:

  • visit their website
  • use the NHS App
  • call them

What happens at your appointment

The GP will look inside your mouth and nose to check for any problems that might be causing your snoring.

It can help to bring someone with you to your appointment who can describe what your snoring is like, such as a partner.

The GP may refer you to a specialist for treatment or further tests if they’re not sure what the cause is.

Treatment for snoring depends on the cause

Talk to a doctor about the best treatment for you.

Treatment for snoring depends on the cause

Possible cause Treatments
Tongue partially blocking the back of your throat a device you wear in your mouth to bring your tongue forward (mandibular advancement device)
Mouth falling open when you’re asleep a chin strap to hold your mouth closed, or a device you wear in your mouth to make you breathe through your nose while you sleep (vestibular shield)
Blocked or narrow airways in your nose special devices (nasal dilators) or strips that hold your nose open while you sleep, or sprays to reduce swelling inside your nose

Surgery for snoring

Surgery is sometimes used to treat snoring if other treatments do not help.

But it’s not widely available on the NHS, it does not always work and snoring can come back afterwards.

Page last reviewed: 25 August 2017
Next review due: 25 August 2020

www.nhs.uk

5 ways to kill mold naturally

There’s no need to turn to harsh chemicals.

Mold and mildew are natural byproducts of a humid environment — but that doesn’t mean you want to share your house with the spores. Rather than turning to harsh chemicals, such as bleach or borax, to banish mold, there are natural ways to kill mold at home that won’t hurt your family, pets or the environment.

Vinegar: Though you can dilute it with water to cut the pungent scent, vinegar works best as a mold-killer when it’s sprayed straight up from a bottle onto the offending area. Leave on for a few hours, then scrub the mold with a brush. If the vinegar smell bothers you, add a few drops of essential oil, but otherwise, know that the powerful scent will be gone when you return from running errands or going to work. Studies have shown that white vinegar kills 82 percent of mold spores, as well as viruses and bacteria. Vinegar also can prevent mold if you spray it on surfaces and leave it to dry.

www.mnn.com

The Health Benefits of Chaga Mushrooms

Can the «cancer fungus» live up to its name?

Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman’s World, and Natural Health.

James Mahan / Getty Images

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) is a type of mushroom that grows mainly on birch trees in northern Europe, Asia, Canada, and the northeastern United States. Long used in folk medicine, Chaga contains massive amounts of the pigment melanin. When exposed to the sun, the exterior of the mushroom will turn a deep black, while the interior will remain a bright orange-ish color. Chaga also contains among the highest levels of oxalate (a compound linked to kidney stones) of any living organism.

Chaga is known by many names around the world. Most interestingly, it is called kreftkjuke in Norway, which literally translates to «cancer fungus» due to its purported health properties.

The mushroom has a hard texture that can be dried, powdered, and used to make Chaga tea, extracts, or tinctures. Less commonly, the powder is packed into capsules for use as a dietary supplement.

Also Known As

  • Birch canker
  • Black mass
  • Cinder conk
  • Clinker
  • Conk rot

Health Benefits

Alternative practitioners believe that Chaga offers numerous health benefits. Among them, Chaga is believed to fight inflammation, lower blood sugar, reduce blood pressure, alleviate arthritis, and even prevent or slow the progression of cancer.

Chaga is rich in fiber and essential nutrients, including vitamin D, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, and calcium. Chaga’s high melanin content has led some to believe that it can bolster the melanin naturally found in the skin, thereby protecting it from sun damage, skin cancer, wrinkles, or aging.

Melanin is also a potent antioxidant and has one of the highest oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) scores of any food. (ORAC is a method developed by scientists at the National Institutes of Health to measures the antioxidant capacity of different foods.)

Despite these properties, there is little evidence that Chaga can treat any medical condition. With that said, a number of preliminary studies have hinted at possible benefits.

Liver Injury

Chaga may help prevent or slow the progression of certain liver problems, suggests a 2015 study in the International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. The Korean research team reported that a water-based extract of Chaga was able to protect biopsied liver tissue from the oxidative effects of a chemical (tertbutyl hydroperoxide) known to cause liver damage.

The study was meant to replicate what occurs in people with drug-induced liver toxicity or alcoholic liver disease. It might also help alleviate the inflammation and oxidative stress that fuels chronic liver diseases, such as viral hepatitis or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Whether the oral administration of Chaga will have the same effect in humans has yet to be established.

Diabetes

Chaga may help control or prevent diabetes, according to a 2014 study in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The hypothesis is based on the beneficial effects that plant-based polysaccharides have on blood sugar. Those found in certain mushrooms, such as Chaga, are believed to be especially potent.

According to the research, rats with chemically-induced diabetes achieved near-normal blood sugar levels after being fed an oral solution of Chaga-derived polysaccharides for six weeks. The investigators believe that the solution reduced inflammation of damaged pancreas cells, allowing the insulin-producing organ to function more normally.

Cancer

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggests that Chaga may offer anti-cancer effects. In a series of test-tube studies involving lung cancer cells, an alcohol extract of Chaga was reported to have triggered apoptosis (programmed cell death) in all cell lines.

The results were supported by an earlier study from Japan in which mice with lung cancer were given a continuous intravenous (IV) infusion of a Chaga over three weeks. According to the investigators, the mice achieved a 25% reduction in tumor size compared to the untreated mice. Those with metastatic disease had a 60% reduction in tumor size.

Despite the positive results, at levels this high, Chaga may cause more harm than good.

According to a 2009 study in the Journal of Medicinal Foods, the black exterior shell of the plant (called the sclerotium) is more toxic to normal cells than cancerous ones.

Possible Side Effects

Little is known about the long-term safety of Chaga. While many consider it to be safe and well-tolerated, it has been known to cause side effects in some.

The substance oxalate is of particular concern since it can affect the kidneys. Oxalate is considered an anti-nutrient because it interferes with the absorption of other nutrients and can quickly bind with calcium to cause kidney stones. There have even been cases of kidney failure in people who have overused Chaga powder.  

Chaga should never be used in people with kidney disease, who have had a prior history of kidney stones, or are at risk of kidney stones.

Because Chaga can influence blood glucose levels, it should be used with caution in people on anti-diabetes drugs, including insulin. Doing so may cause hypoglycemia (an abnormal drop in blood sugar).

There is also concern that Chaga may interfere with blood clotting. As such, it should be avoided in people with bleeding disorders and used with caution in people on blood thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin) and Plavix (clopidogrel).

It is unknown how Chaga might affect children and whether it has any impact on pregnancy or breastfeeding. To avoid complications, speak to your doctor before using a herbal supplement in any form.

Selection, Preparation, and Storage

Widely available for purchase online or in natural food or supplements store, chago is most commonly sold as a powder for use in teas and decoctions. You can also buy bottled tinctures and extracts, which some believe are better absorbed by the body. Chaga tea bags and dried Chaga chunks are also available.

Chaga supplements are relatively uncommon because the dried fungus less easily absorbed in the intestines. It is only by dispersing the mushroom in hot water, alcohol, or a fermented extract that the intestines can more readily absorb them.

The challenge of using Chaga is that doses can vary between brands (or even different lots of the same brand). Herbal remedies like these aren’t strictly regulated in the United States, and there are no tests to ensure a standardized dose or even the purity of a product.

On top of this, few manufacturers will submit their product for voluntary testing by an independent certifying body like the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), ConsumerLab, or NSF International. That leaves it up to you to make the wisest choice.

If you are interested in using Chaga, here are some tips that can help:

  • Read the product label. The more information you get, the better. The label should ideally include the species name Inonotus obliquus as well as the country of origin. Check to see if there are added ingredients. If there is and you don’t recognize them, speak with your pharmacist.
  • Check the color. Chaga powder can range in color from bright orange to dark brown. Darker colors suggest that the mushroom was not peeled prior pulverization. This is only of concern because the blackened skin (sclerotium) may be more toxic to cells.  
  • Go organic. Given the lack of testing, all herbal supplements pose a risk of contamination. To reduce the risk, opt for brands that are pure and organic. Pure simply means there are no added ingredients, while USDA organic certification ensures that you are not exposed to pesticides and other unwanted chemicals

There are no guidelines for the appropriate use of chaga. As a rule of thumb, use the product as directed and never exceed the recommended dose. This doesn’t mean that the product is safe, but it may reduce your risk of side effects and complications.

Other Questions

How do you make Chaga tea?: The easiest way to make Chaga tea is with Chaga tea bags. If using Chaga powder, add a teaspoon to a cup of boiling water, allow to steep for 5 minutes, and strain with a fine tea strainer.

If using Chaga chunks, break them into one-inch pieces. Add four to five chunks to one liter of water and simmer gently for a minimum of 15 minutes and up to three hours. The longer you simmer the fungi, the deeper the flavor will get. Some people drink the darker brew as they would coffee. Lighter brews are generally sipped as a tea.

Some people described the taste as earthy and coffee-like; others will tell you that it tastes like dishwater. To make the tea more palatable, add honey or sweetener which brings out its slight vanilla-like essence.

Can you get fresh Chaga?: Fresh Chaga can be found in the United States, particularly in states like Maine. Unless you can accurately identify the mushroom, it is best to buy it from a retail producer rather than harvesting it on your own.

Fresh Chaga requires drying before use. To do this, place the fungus in an oven at 110 o to 115 o F for 24 hours. When dried, you can remove the blackened skin and grate the fungus with a fine kitchen grater. You can also pulverize it into a powder with a coffee grinder.

Store Chaga in an airtight container, ideally in the refrigerator or freezer. Discard of any product that smells moldy or develops visible spores. If kept in the freezer, Chaga may last up to two years.

www.verywellhealth.com

How Do I Protect Myself from Ultraviolet (UV) Rays?

Most skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays. Most of this exposure comes from the sun, but some can come from man-made sources, such as indoor tanning beds and sun lamps. People who get a lot of exposure to UV rays are at greater risk for skin cancer.

The main types of UV rays that can affect your skin include UVA rays and UVB rays. UVB rays have more energy and are a more potent cause of at least some skin cancers, but both UVA and UVB rays can damage skin and cause skin cancer. There are no safe UV rays. (To learn more about the different types of UV rays, see Ultraviolet (UV) Radiation.)

What affects UV exposure?

The strength of the sun’s UV rays reaching the ground depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • Time of day: UV rays are strongest in the middle of the day, between 10 am and 4 pm.
  • Season of the year: UV rays are stronger during spring and summer months. This is less of a factor near the equator.
  • Distance from the equator (latitude): UV exposure goes down as you get further from the equator.
  • Altitude: More UV rays reach the ground at higher elevations.
  • Cloud cover: The effect of clouds can vary, but it’s important to know that UV rays can get through to the ground, even on a cloudy day.
  • Reflection off surfaces: UV rays can bounce off surfaces like water, sand, snow, or pavement, leading to an increase in UV exposure.

The UV Index

The US National Weather Service and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have developed the UV Index, which gives you an idea of how strong the UV light is in your area on any given day, on a scale from 1 to 11+. A higher number means greater risk of exposure to UV rays and a higher chance of sunburn and skin damage that could ultimately lead to skin cancer. The UV Index is part of many weather forecasts throughout the country. Further information about the UV Index, as well as your local UV Index forecast, can be found on the EPA’s website at www.epa.gov/sunsafety/uv-index-1.

Other factors affecting UV exposure

Along with the strength of the rays, the amount of UV exposure you get also depends on the length of time your skin is exposed, and if your skin is protected with clothing or sunscreen.

People who live in areas with year-round, bright sunlight have a higher risk of skin cancer. Spending a lot of time outdoors for work or recreation without protective clothing and sunscreen increases your risk.

The pattern of exposure may also affect your skin cancer risk. For example, frequent sunburns in childhood may increase the risk for some types of skin cancer many years or even decades later.

It’s also important to understand that some people are more likely to get skin damage from the sun, for a variety of reasons.

Protect yourself from the sun

Some people think about sun protection only when they spend a day at the lake, beach, or pool. But sun exposure adds up day after day, and it happens every time you are in the sun. Even though sunlight is the main source of UV rays, you don’t have to avoid the sun completely. And it would be unwise to stay inside if it would keep you from being active, because physical activity is important for good health. But getting too much sun can be harmful. There are some simple steps you can take to limit your exposure to UV rays.

Simply staying in the shade is one of the best ways to limit your UV exposure. If you are going to be in the sun, “Slip! Slop! Slap! ® and Wrap” is a catchphrase that can help you remember some of the key steps you can take to protect yourself from UV rays:

  • Slip on a shirt.
  • Slop on sunscreen.
  • Slap on a hat.
  • Wrap on sunglasses to protect the eyes and skin around them.

Seek shade

An obvious but very important way to limit your exposure to UV light is to avoid being outdoors in direct sunlight too long. This is particularly important between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm, when UV light is strongest. If you aren’t sure how strong the sun’s rays are, use the shadow test: if your shadow is shorter than you are, the sun’s rays are the strongest, and it’s important to protect yourself.

UV rays reach the ground all year, even on cloudy or hazy days, but the strength of UV rays can vary, based on many factors (see above). Be especially careful on the beach or in areas with snow because sand, water, and snow reflect sunlight, increasing the amount of UV radiation you get. UV rays can also reach below the water’s surface, so you can still get a burn even if you’re in the water and feeling cool.

Some UV rays can also pass through windows. Typical car, home, and office windows block most UVB rays but a smaller portion of UVA rays, so even if you don’t feel you’re getting burned your skin may still get some damage. Tinted windows help block more UVA rays, but this depends on the type of tinting. (If you do have your car windows tinted, check local laws, as some states regulate this.) UV radiation that comes through windows probably doesn’t pose a great risk to most people unless they spend long periods of time close to a window that gets direct sunlight.

Protect your skin with clothing

When you are out in the sun, wear clothing to cover your skin. Clothes provide different levels of UV protection. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, or long skirts cover the most skin and are the most protective. Dark colors generally provide more protection than light colors. A tightly woven fabric protects better than loosely woven clothing. Dry fabric is generally more protective than wet fabric.

Be aware that covering up doesn’t block out all UV rays. If you can see light through a fabric, UV rays can get through, too.

Many companies now make clothing that’s lightweight, comfortable, and protects against UV rays even when wet. It tends to be more tightly woven, and some have special coatings to help absorb UV rays. These sun-protective clothes may have a label listing the UV protection factor (UPF) value (the level of protection the garment provides from the sun’s UV rays, on a scale from 15 to 50+). The higher the UPF, the higher the protection from UV rays.

Some products, which are used like laundry detergents in a washing machine, can increase the UPF value of clothes you already own. They add a layer of UV protection to your clothes without changing the color or texture. This can be useful, but it’s not exactly clear how much it adds to protecting you from UV rays, so it’s still important to follow the other steps listed here.

Use sunscreen

Sunscreen is a product that you put on your skin to protect it from the sun’s UV rays. But it’s important to know that sunscreen is just a filter – it does not block all UV rays. Sunscreen should not be used as a way to prolong your time in the sun. Even with proper sunscreen use, some UV rays still get through. Because of this, sunscreen should not be thought of as your first line of defense. Consider sunscreen as one part of your skin cancer protection plan, especially if staying in the shade and wearing protective clothing aren’t available as your first options.

Sunscreens are available in many forms – lotions, creams, ointments, gels, sprays, wipes, and lip balms, to name a few.

Some cosmetics, such as moisturizers, lipsticks, and foundations, are considered sunscreen products if they have sunscreen. Some makeup contains sunscreen, but you have to check the label – makeup, including lipstick, without sunscreen does not provide sun protection.

Read the labels

When choosing a sunscreen, be sure to read the label. Sunscreens with broad spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays) and with sun protection factor (SPF) values of 30 or higher are recommended.

Sun protection factor (SPF): The SPF number is the level of protection the sunscreen provides against UVB rays, which are the main cause of sunburn. A higher SPF number means more UVB protection (although it says nothing about UVA protection). For example, when applying an SPF 30 sunscreen correctly, you get the equivalent of 1 minute of UVB rays for each 30 minutes you spend in the sun. So, 1 hour in the sun wearing SPF 30 sunscreen is the same as spending 2 minutes totally unprotected. People often do not apply enough sunscreen, so they get less actual protection.

Sunscreens labeled with SPFs as high as 100+ are available. Higher numbers do mean more protection, but many people don’t understand the SPF scale. SPF 15 sunscreens filter out about 93% of UVB rays, while SPF 30 sunscreens filter out about 97%, SPF 50 sunscreens about 98%, and SPF 100 about 99%. The higher you go, the smaller the difference becomes. No sunscreen protects you completely.

In the US, sunscreens with an SPF lower than 15 must now include a warning on the label stating that the product has been shown only to help prevent sunburn, not skin cancer or early skin aging.

Broad spectrum sunscreen: Sunscreen products can only be labeled “broad spectrum” if they have been tested and shown to protect against both UVA and UVB rays. Some of the ingredients in sunscreens that help protect against UVA rays include avobenzone (Parsol 1789), zinc oxide, and titanium dioxide.

Only broad spectrum sunscreen products with an SPF of 15 or higher can state that they help protect against skin cancer and early skin aging if used as directed with other sun protection measures.

Water resistant sunscreen: Sunscreens cannot be labeled as “waterproof” or “sweatproof” because these terms can be misleading. Sunscreens can claim to be “water resistant,” but they have to state whether they protect the skin for 40 or 80 minutes of swimming or sweating, based on testing.

Expiration dates: Check the expiration date on the sunscreen to be sure it’s still effective. Most sunscreen products are good for at least 2 to 3 years, but you may need to shake the bottle to remix the sunscreen ingredients. Sunscreens that have been exposed to heat for long periods, such as if they were kept in a glove box or car trunk through the summer, may be less effective.

Be sure to apply the sunscreen properly

Always follow the label directions. Most experts recommend applying sunscreen generously. When putting it on, pay close attention to your face, ears, neck, arms, and any other areas not covered by clothing. And don’t forget your lips; lip balm with sunscreen is also available. If you’re going to wear insect repellent or makeup, put the sunscreen on first.

Ideally, about 1 ounce of sunscreen (about a shot glass or palmful) should be used to cover the arms, legs, neck, and face of the average adult. Sunscreen needs to be reapplied at least every 2 hours to maintain protection. Sunscreens can wash off when you sweat or swim and then wipe off with a towel, so they might need to be reapplied more often.

Some people might think that if they use a sunscreen with a very high SPF, they don’t need to be as careful about how they use it, but this isn’t true. If you choose to use a sunscreen with a very high SPF, keep in mind that this doesn’t mean you can stay out in the sun longer, use less sunscreen, or apply it less often. Always be sure to read the label.

Some sunscreen products can irritate your skin. Many products claim to be hypoallergenic or dermatologist tested, but the only way to know for sure if a product will irritate your skin is to try it. One common recommendation is to apply a small amount to the soft skin on the inside of your elbow every day for 3 days. If your skin does not turn red or become itchy, the product is probably OK for you.

Wear a hat

A hat with at least a 2- to 3-inch brim all around is ideal because it protects areas that are often exposed to intense sun, such as the ears, eyes, forehead, nose, and scalp. A dark, non-reflective underside to the brim can also help lower the amount of UV rays reaching the face from reflective surfaces such as water. A shade cap (which looks like a baseball cap with about 7 inches of fabric draping down the sides and back) also is good, and will provide more protection for the neck. These are often sold in sporting goods and outdoor supply stores. If you don’t have a shade cap (or another good hat) available, you can make one by wearing a large handkerchief or bandana under a baseball cap.

A baseball cap protects the front and top of the head but not the neck or the ears, where skin cancers commonly develop. Straw hats are not as protective as hats made of tightly woven fabric.

Wear sunglasses that block UV rays

UV-blocking sunglasses are important for protecting the delicate skin around the eyes, as well as the eyes themselves. Research has shown that long hours in the sun without protecting your eyes increase your chances of developing certain eye diseases.

The ideal sunglasses should block 99% to 100% of UVA and UVB rays. Before you buy, check the label to make sure they do. Labels that say “UV absorption up to 400 nm” or “Meets ANSI UV Requirements” mean the glasses block at least 99% of UV rays. Those labeled “cosmetic” block about 70% of UV rays. If there is no label, don’t assume the sunglasses provide any UV protection.

Darker glasses are not necessarily better because UV protection comes from an invisible chemical in or applied to the lenses, not from the color or darkness of the lenses. Look for an ANSI label.

Large-framed and wraparound sunglasses are more likely to protect your eyes from light coming in from different angles. Children need smaller versions of real, protective adult sunglasses – not toy sunglasses.

Some brands of eyeglasses and contact lenses now offer protection against UV rays as well. But don’t assume this is true for lenses you wear unless it’s clearly stated on the product label or you confirm this with your eye care professional. Of course, glasses come in many shapes and sizes, and smaller lenses will cover and protect smaller areas. Contact lenses don’t cover the whole eye and surrounding areas, so they are not sufficient eye protection when used alone.

Protect children from the sun

Children need special attention. They tend to spend more time outdoors, can burn more easily, and may not be aware of the dangers. Parents and other caregivers should protect children from excess sun exposure by using the steps above. It’s important, particularly in sunnier parts of the world, to cover your children as fully as is reasonable. You should develop the habit of using sunscreen on exposed skin for yourself and your children whenever you go outdoors and may be exposed to large amounts of sunlight. Children need to be taught about the dangers of too much sun exposure as they become more independent. If you or your child burns easily, be extra careful to cover up, limit exposure, and apply sunscreen.

Babies younger than 6 months should be kept out of direct sunlight and protected from the sun using hats and protective clothing. Sunscreen may be used on small areas of exposed skin only if adequate clothing and shade are not available.

Avoid tanning beds and sun lamps

Many people believe the UV rays of tanning beds are harmless. This is not true. Tanning lamps give out UVA and usually UVB rays as well. Both UVA and UVB rays can cause long-term skin damage, and can contribute to skin cancer. Tanning bed use has been linked with an increased risk of melanoma, especially if it’s started before age 30. Most skin doctors and health organizations recommend not using tanning beds and sun lamps.

If you want a tan, one option is to use a sunless tanning lotion, which can provide a darker look without the danger. See Are Tanning Pills and Other Tanning Products Safe?

Small UV lamps are also used in nail salons (or at home) to dry some types of nail polish. These lamps give off UVA rays. The amount given off is much lower than from tanning beds, and the risk of skin cancer from these lamps is thought to be low. Still, to be safe, some expert groups recommend applying sunscreen to the hands before using one of these lamps.

Sun exposure and vitamin D

Vitamin D has many health benefits. It might even help lower the risk for some cancers. Your skin makes vitamin D naturally when you are in the sun. How much vitamin D you make depends on many things, including how old you are, how dark your skin is, and how strong the sunlight is where you live.

At this time, doctors aren’t sure what the optimal level of vitamin D is. A lot of research is being done in this area. Whenever possible, it’s better to get vitamin D from your diet or vitamin supplements rather than from sun exposure because dietary sources and vitamin supplements do not increase skin cancer risk, and are typically more reliable ways to get the amount you need.

www.cancer.org

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