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Archive for August, 2011

When temperatures are warm and everyone is spending more time outside sunscreen and sun hats are not the only things we need to protect ourselves.

Insects and mosquitoes are a reality of the summer season that we would rather do without but must learn to cope with. What you need is some natural remedies and good old fashioned cures from the cupboards that can take the itchiness and the redness out of the skin when an insect sets his sights on you.

To combat the itchiness that can drive you crazy look no further than common everyday products that you have in your kitchen. Rub lemon juice on the bite to stop the urge to scratch right away. Lemons are also effective types of disinfectants that can kill bacteria on your skin and can also prevent your skin from becoming infected.

Apple cider vinegar can make the itching go away fairly quickly as can combining salt and water and then applying it to the bite. Yet another natural method that works like a charm and will get rid of the itching is mixing baking soda with water. Whip it up until it turns into a paste and then directly apply it to the area that is red and itchy. Before long the desire to scratch will be gone!

Did you know that toothpaste is an alternative remedy for the itch that accompanies insect bites? It is. In fact if you like minty toothpaste then that is great because it is more effective than the regular type of toothpaste.

Why minty toothpaste for the itch of mosquito bites? The skin receptors you have send signals to the brain. For instance there are signals for heat, cold and itchiness. Most of the receptors that the skin has are only capable of processing one signal at a time and not a number of them all at once. The cooling element that the mint toothpaste brings to the skin is able to neutralize the itch of the bite because it is stronger and is able to override the signal for itch!

This is the case for any over-the-counter product that you buy at the pharmacy. If it is capable of producing cooling or warming sensations then it can go to work on the itch instantly. Examples of these products may be very familiar to you. Gold Bond, Tiger Balm and Vicks Vapo-Rub would all work in the same manner.

If you have some pure aloe gel (or an aloe plant) on hand to cope with sunburned skin then you can also use it to take the itchiness out of bites from pesky mosquitoes. In fact any product that contains aloe can be of help to you.

If all else fails and you are still scratching then head to the local drugstore to pick up the popular staples for skin itch- calamine lotion and hydrocortisone cream. Now you can kiss the itch goodbye and go back to enjoying your summer!

Becca

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Taking the right measures to prevent sunburns is not just about keeping up appearances but is also about keeping you alive!

Skin cancer is one of the most common and most preventable forms of skin cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, in 2007 more than one million cases of skin cancer were diagnosed. The key to protecting yourself is to wear sunscreen and to make sure that you have even coverage and have applied enough of it. Here we look at some dos and don’ts of sun protection.

Do not just apply sunscreen to your face and think you are done. You are not! Even if you plan to do some shopping or do not plan to be out very long you need to make sure that your hands, throat, chest, ears, feet and lips are protected by sunscreen. All of these areas of the skin can burn easily and are prone to the development of cancerous tumors known as melanomas.

Don’t just use sunscreen when you go outside. You need it when you stay inside your home or office as well. Most modern glass windows are able to protect the skin from the UVB rays that lead to sunburn but they have no effect on the powerful UVA rays that can penetrate glass. UVA rays are the ones that are responsible for brown spots and wrinkles. They also suppress the work of the immune system. It is particularly important that you slather on a generous portion of sunscreen when you will be driving around in your car a lot. UVA rays can make their way through the windows of motor vehicles and through the windshield.

Don’t make the assumption (because it is a wrong assumption) that a sunscreen that is marked “waterproof” or “water-resistant” will remain on your skin longer and does not need to be reapplied as often. After you have sweat a lot or been in the water for a half an hour or more the waterproof sunscreens will wear off and will require a new application.

Do use sunscreen all 12 months of the year. It is not just a summer skin care product!

Choose a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. SPF 30 to 45 is strongly recommended. What you may not be aware of is that you can still get burned by the sun on cloudy days. In fact an estimated 80 percent of the ultraviolet rays from the sun can penetrate through the clouds and can find its way to your exposed skin.

Do apply a generous portion of sunscreen to your skin. Do not be stingy with the amount you put on. Make sure you apply it before you venture outside. Putting it on once you are in the backyard, at the beach or in the car will not offer you the ultimate in protection. What you need to do to maximize its effectiveness is to apply it at least 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside. Applying it too early or too late is not going to help you much. It needs to completely absorb into your skin in order to do its job effectively.

Do choose the type of sunscreen protection that offers the best coverage for you. Lotion tends to be the most appropriate choice for most areas of the body but the new sprays can work for some of those areas where applying lotion is messy or difficult to do by yourself.

For instance the sprays are good for the scalp, the ears and the back of the neck. When you apply the spray it is recommended that you do not spray it directly on your body but spray it on your hand and from there apply it to your body. This is especially important if you decide to use sunscreen spray on your face instead of lotion.

Samantha

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Aromatherapy. Even the word has a relaxing and calming sound to it.

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oils in order to improve and enhance an individual’s health and well-being. While it is not a miracle practice it is a very basic and natural way to manage and reduce stress in your life.

Essential oils can be thought of as concentrated extracts that are taken from the roots of plants, as well as the bark, flowers and leaves of plants. Examples of these include orange, rosemary, roses, lavender and sandalwood. Aromatherapy is not a new concept by any means. It dates back to ancient times and was even made reference to in the Old Testament.

Lessening Stress with Oils:

You may wonder how aromatherapy can be of help when it comes to stress. If you are constantly facing situations in your life that are stressful then stress can become overwhelming and downright harmful to your well-being. The scents of essential oils can be used to relax and soothe because they produce chemical responses in the brain that can help to center the mind and make stress more manageable.

Our noses play an important role in this process as they are the entry by way scents make their way to our thinking and feeling center – the brain.

Olfactory cells are found at the top portion of each one of our nostrils. These cells capture the scent of the essential oil and then take those impulses and transport them to the limbic system in the brain.

It is the limbic system that not only controls the way in which we respond to stress but also stores and recalls all of our memories (it is our very own memory lane!) and processes all of our emotions. The limbic system is connected to our sense of smell. How we respond to stress also starts here which explains why what we smell can have a strong effect on stress.

Plant Essences – Something for Everyone!

If you would like to try aromatherapy for stress relief but are not sure what plant essence appeals to you the most then experiment with a variety of them. There are many essential oils from plants that can lead to a calmer and tranquil state of mind.

The wonderful thing about aromatherapy is that it is simple to do and is not expensive. You can dip a cotton ball in the oil, inhale it and let it take over your senses and improve your mood. Aromatherapy can be enjoyed by anyone practically anywhere. This makes it a very versatile natural therapy for stress.

If anxiety and tension are weighing you down then try a combination of geranium, lavender and patchouli.

Lavender and geranium can also be used on their own to relax the body and mind and to relieve stress. As a type of nerve sedative chamomile and Melissa earn high marks. Chamomile can also be effectively used by itself as a stress and anxiety reducer.

Clary sage is beneficial when you have a strong desire to relax.

When it comes to depression and/or insomnia sandalwood can be very effective. Sweet marjoram is helpful when it comes to reducing high levels of anxiety and tension. Juniper berry is also an anxiety reliever and is worthwhile when you are feeling red hot with anger!

Samantha

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Every season brings its own challenges and its own unique brand of circumstances.

In the summertime outdoor activities are common which makes concerns over weather and the rising temperatures even more pressing. Heat stroke is a worry during the warmer months when most people are busy enjoying everything from camping to swimming to hiking to gardening and so on.

The key to enjoying the summer and to remaining in good health is to plan ahead to be as comfortable as you can be.

You may not think your choice of clothing makes a difference to your comfort level in the summer months but it does. Choose light colored clothing over dark colors during the summer. Choose garments made of cotton or a cotton blend that are lightweight and will help to absorb perspiration as opposed to having the perspiration stay on your skin and make you feel even more uncomfortable.

Cotton is also warm weather friendly because it permits better airflow which helps to keep you feeling cooler as opposed to feeling hotter! Muslin is another good choice for summer wear. Stay away from polyester blends, wools or anything that has a thick weave to it. You need to choose fabrics that will allow the heat out as your body as opposed to holding it in!

Save the heavy meals such as stews and chilli for the winter months. During the summer plan meals that are of a lighter fare. Fruits and vegetables are the best summertime food options. You should also choose meats such as fish and poultry that your body can digest easily. Foods that can be easily digested by the body are more capable of keeping your body temperature down as compared to foods that overtax the digestive system.

Think light food fare in the heat!

Set aside the hot drinks in favor of cooler beverages that can be served with ice. Coffee, tea and hot chocolate raise your internal thermostat and can make you feel warmer. That is why these beverages are so popular in the chilly winter months. Instead try some iced tea or a frozen fruit drink or fruit smoothie. Try experimenting with some recipes on your own to find out what summer flavors appeal to you the most.

Just make sure you choose beverages that are not high in sugar.

When you can go swimming, be it in a pool, at a lake or in the ocean do so. This is an excellent and fun way to cool off!  Always be safe when you are swimming. Make sure that you apply sunscreen. Reapply it after taking a dip.

If you have an air conditioner in your home then make sure you keep it serviced. It is best to having the cooling system inspected and any problems repaired before the warm months are upon you.

Fans are an excellent way to keep the air in a room from getting stall and stifling. Choose from small, medium or large fans and select sizes based upon the square footage of the rooms in your home. It is important to keep the air circulating in your residence. Make sure that wherever you are working in your house, whether it be at your desk, in the kitchen or in the living room that you have a fan nearby to keep you cool as a cucumber!

Becca

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