Category Archives: Diseases, Injuries, and Dying

How smoking and sun affect your skin’s look and feel

 

Skin health and beauty- big business

Browse social media or news sites online and you notice skin health and appearance is a priority for most people. Sales for skin care and appearance products and services is a multi-billion dollar industry. If you’re on social media, you’ve probably seen posts from friends who are involved in direct selling companies for skin care, maybe you are also.

(By way of disclosure, I am a consultant for a direct selling company offering skincare products and makeup but will not discuss any of those products in this post. However there will be other affiliate links through which this blog can earn a commission if you make a purchase through them.  )

In my work as a family physician, I treat skin problems frequently. Some of these are primary skin problems, but some are the result of lifestyle habits, other medical conditions, and even medical treatments. While some of these may be unavoidable, others are preventable.

This post will look at two avoidable risks to skin health and appearance-smoking and ultraviolet light. 

HOW SMOKING AND SUN AFFECT YOUR SKIN'S LOOK AND FEEL

 

 

 

Skin Deep- cells and layers

First let’s take a deeper look at our skin, it’s more complex than you may realize.

Layers of the Skin diagram
The layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis), as well as an inset with a close-up view of the types of cells in the skin (squamous cells, basal cells, and melanocytes). Source: National Cancer Institute Creator: Don Bliss (Illustrator) This image is in the public domain and can be freely reused. Please credit the source and, where possible, the creator listed above.

 

 

Skin disease and trauma involve damage to one or both layers of the skin- the dermis or epidermis, or to the individual cells- squamous cells, basal cells, or the melanocytes-the cells with pigment that give our skin color.

Cancers can develop in any cell of the skin. Melanoma is cancer of the melanocytes.

(This photo is for illustration only and should not be used to diagnose a skin lesion. See a physician if you have a skin lesion that concerns you. )

photo of melanoma skin cancer
a melanoma skin lesion-Source: National Cancer Institute Creator: Unknown Photographer- This image is in the public domain and can be freely reused. Please credit the source

Smoking

I’ve previously discussed 7 reasons to be smoke free. One of those is skin health.

By decreasing circulation, smoking robs skin of nourishment and oxygen; this weakens skin , making it susceptible to infection, cancer, and aging.

Skin experts wrote in the Journal of Dermatological Science

“Smoking is associated with many dermatological (skin) conditions, including

  • poor wound healing,
  • premature skin aging,
  • squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma,(cancers)
  • acne,
  • psoriasis, and
  • hair loss

Tobacco’s effect on  skin appearance include

  • Facial wrinkles and furrows (eg, crows’ feet at corners of the eyes,  smoker’s lines around lips)
  • Baggy eyelids and slack jawline
  • Uneven skin coloring: grayish, yellow with prominent blood vessels (telangiectasia)
  • Dry, coarse skin.

 

 

Long term, the skin of a 40-year-old heavy smoker will resemble that of non-smoking 70-year-old. !

 

Other potential hazards from tobacco use include

  • increased risk for bacterial, yeast, and viral skin infections
  • impaired circulation increasing the risk of frostbite, Raynaud’s syndrome, and blood clots (thrombosis)
  • thrush and gingivitis

 

 

 

DermNet NZ offers this gallery of photos illustrating these ways tobacco use can damage our skin.       ALERT: These photos are graphic.

No Smoking sign with pumpkins
Ask your doctor about safe and effective ways to help you stop smoking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A woman lifts her arms in praise at sunset
Lightstock.com photo (affiliate link)

Ultraviolet light

Basking in sunlight may enhance our mood, but too much of it can damage our skin.

The signs of photo-aging are obvious to physicians-

  • yellowing or sallowing of the skin complexion
  • dry and rough texture with wrinkling,
  • unevenly pigmented skin tone with dilated blood vessels.
  • stretched out
  • easy bruising

Photoaging is premature aging of the skin caused by repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UV), primarily from the sun but also from artificial UV sources, such as tanning beds. Besides aging, excess sun exposure can cause

  • Burns
  • Rash due to increased sun sensitivity when taking certain medications
  • Cancers- skin cancers are the most common type of cancer.

 

How to limit UV light exposure 

  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen, SPF 15 or higher
  • Wear hats, sunglasses, sun protective clothing
  • Avoid sun exposure, especially from 10 am to 4 pm
  • No tanning bed use.

Learn more about the effects of sun exposure from familydoctor.org at this link.

What sun exposure does to our skin.

 

 

 

In future posts, I’ll talk more about what hurts our skin, and what helps our skin.

As always, I appreciate your time and interest in exploring and sharing the HEART of health with me.

Dr. Aletha

 

a cute monkey checks out his face in a mirrow
We all care about our appearance, including this cute monkey. Photo by Andre Mouton on Pexels.com
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How to stop motion sickness and enjoy a cruise to Alaska

A comment prompted this  post to follow up my recent post about cruising

Safe and healthy cruising-keys to an enjoyable vacation

The conversation went like this:

Rhonda Gales (@RhondaGales) blogger at Mother 2 Mother 

Your photos are great! I want to do a cruise to Alaska next year, but I’m a little leery. The last cruise that I took, I was sea sick the entire cruise. Any advice on how to avoid it this time, and thanks for sharing on Sunday’s Best.

Dr. Aletha

Thanks Rhonda we’ve also cruised to Alaska, it was beautiful. You might look for a facility offering desensitization training for motion sickness. Otherwise drugs work but can cause unpleasant side effects. Talk to your doctor.

Rhonda

Thanks for your advice. Would love to see pictures of your Alaska Cruise. This post was quite popular with my readers.

white and yellow roller coaster
Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

What is motion sickness?

Motion sickness is the unpleasant sensation of motion, either with or without motion actually occurring. Those of us prone to it wonder why some people seek out experiences  like roller coasters.  Symptoms include

  • sweating
  • nausea with or without vomiting
  • dizziness
  • imbalance
  • general unwell feeling

Fear of motion sickness causes people to forgo activities like airplane travel, boating, amusement park rides, and car trips. But sometimes these activities are unavoidable or people just want to enjoy them.

 

Cruising Alaska’s Inside Passage

 

 

How to stop motion sickness and enjoy a cruise to Alaska-watercresswords.com

 

 

Preventing motion sickness

If you don’t want to completely forgo activities that might cause motion sickness, manipulating the situation to minimize or change the motion can help.

Sitting toward the front of a vehicle and facing forward will help.

  • Airplanes- sit over the wings
  • Boat- sit level with the water facing the waves
  • Bus/Van/Car- nearest the front
  • Train- lowest level

Use your eyes

  • Don’t read
  • Focus on the horizon if possible.
  • Keep eyes closed (especially if not able to see the horizon) and/or wear sunglasses.

Maintain general wellness

  • Be rested, sleep if possible
  • Stay hydrated, eat lightly
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Keep the environment  well ventilated, avoid strong smells
  • Listen to soothing music
a seaplane with a cruise ship in the background
No roads lead into Juneau, the capital of Alaska , so people there depend on boats and airplanes.

Using medications for motion sickness

One option is to use medication, either for prevention or to treat the symptoms once they occur (not as effective.)

Prevention- using the patch

There are herbal patches  but this one is  prescription only, and most likely to be effective.

Transdermal Scopolamine patch (Transderm-Scop)

  1. Apply behind one ear at least 4 hours before travel
  2. Replace patch every 72 hours

 

man and woman standing next to a helicopter on a glacier
When our cruise ship stopped at Juneau, we took a helicopter ride over a glacier-and then landed on it.

 

 

 

 

Other prescription medication

Promethazine (Phenergan) for nausea and vomiting

woman walking over icy terrain near a mountain
exploring the surface of a glacier

 

 

 

Available OTC- over the counter

(These affiliate links are for information only and are not a recommendation to use unless advised by your personal physician.)

 

 

 

 

a village by the shore flanked by mountains, Alaska
Sailing through Alaska’s Inside Passage, we were never far from breathtaking scenery.

Habituation and Desensitization

The more I travel , the less likely I am to suffer motion sickness without using drugs.  I use the tips above- I don’t read in the car, I sit in the front of a bus. If an airplane encounters turbulence, I lean back, close my eyes, and direct the cool air toward me. I have gradually become habituated to motion, although I still do not ride roller coasters.

There are programs available to desensitize people to motion; the military uses these since pilots and sailors will constantly be exposed to motion and must be able to function.

A former NASA flight surgeon  and fighter pilot developed such a method, naming  it after himself. Dr. Sam Puma developed the Puma Method. 

“The PUMA METHOD consists of a series of simple yet very effective warm-up and conditioning exercises.

These exercises raise your tolerance level to a variety of motion sickness producing activities such as reading in a moving vehicle, riding in a small boat or cruise ship, or flying in an airplane. This process is called habituation.

The exercises use your body’s own habituation mechanism to prevent motion sickness. You don’t need any drugs, so there are no negative side effects.”

(quote from the website)

(This is an affiliate link to  the product. Otherwise, I have no personal, professional, or financial connection to Dr. Puma or the Puma Method.)

 

 

 

 

a street in Ketchikan Alaska with a sign-The Salmon Capital of the World
Fortunately for us, we love to eat salmon.

Motion Sickness Treatment Makes Waves

This article from Scientific American explains how NASA and the U.S. Navy are finding new ways to help everyone overcome motion sickness.

“Researchers  and those who work with pilots and the military’s most frequent flyers, are especially keen to find better ways to treat motion sickness. And the many civilians who face nausea in cars, planes, boats or even the tamest amusement park rides would welcome a cure without the common side effects of current medications, such as sleepiness, or the questionable efficacy of alternative treatments, such as pressure bracelets.

The path to those ends remains bumpy and filled with more than a few green faces, but new research is closer to finding the best treatments to keep both side effects and lunch down.”

 

The food as well as the dining service was always excellent, and one of our favorite parts of the cruise.

 

 

If you didn’t visit it already, you may want to read my previous post-

Safe and healthy cruising-keys to an enjoyable vacation

 

 

Travel comments please

Please share your cruise experiences, good or bad.  How have you coped with motion sickness on any trip? I may share some of your insights in a future post.

 

boats in a harbor with a mountain in the distance

 

 

 

Please visit my page

Healthy and Helpful Resources

 

And learn how you can help

Share the HEART of health

 

Thanks for exploring the HEART of health on a cruise ship with me. Please share this post and follow Watercress Words.

Dr. Aletha 

woman standing by pink flowers
At our final stop , Victoria, Vancouver Island, touring Butchart Gardens. Yes, an Alaskan cruise stops in Canada.