Category: General Health

January 24, 2015

827899_15465114 (1)It’s summer, time to hit the beach or tanning salon for that perfect tan. Few things are more satisfying than your friends noticing how much time you spent on your tan and complimenting you on your luscious bronze glow. Why does something like our skin tone matter so much? Is it because a pale or an untanned skin triggers images of  nerds who spend their entire summer indoors playing video games?


Dark skin vs Fair skin

In the American society,  we associate tans with sexy supermodels, athletes and movie icons. Having a great tan is often considered a symbol of good health.  A tanned skin is a way to identify our social hierarchy, kind of like the different insignias to differentiate between military ranks. Sporting a tan shows that you have the time and money to lay around all day in the sun instead of being stuck in the office all day trying to pay off the bills.

However, in the Chinese culture, the exact opposite is true. Here, the fair skinned is the prized possession. Tans are associated with those who must labor all day under the hot sun. People who have these lower paying jobs (e.g. famers or construction workers) are seen as members of the lower class. On the other hand, having fair skin means that you either have a high paying job in an office building, or are rich enough not to be out working under the beating sun. A person’s skin tone reflects their standing in society.

Because of these very different viewpoints, conflicts often arise between Chinese teenagers who have grown accustomed to the Western culture and their parents who still hold the more traditional views. Cultural conflicts are a touchy subject and not easy to resolve. However, there are some serious health concerns about  sunbathing that should make you think twice before going out to get a suntan.


Dangers from the sun

Tanning greatly increases your risk of developing skin cancer. There are over 1 million new cases of skin cancer every year, with the main culprit being sun exposure. The sun’s rays can also penetrate deep into your body, damaging your immune system as well as causing premature skin aging. The major difference between your skin and that of your parents’ has to do with sun exposure.


Does getting a tan protect my skin from sunburn?

Any sort of tanning is a sign of skin damage. When UV rays hit you, they damage your skin cells. In response, the skin cells produce the dark pigment, melanin, to prevent any further damage. Melanin is the compound that causes your skin to darken and produce the tan. Contrary to popular belief, getting a tan will not protect your skin from sunburn or other skin damage. The extra melanin in tanned skin provides a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of about 2 to 4; far below the minimum recommended SPF of 15.


How to protect your skin against sun damage

When you go hang out on the beach, shoot some hoops, or swim, be sure to apply sunscreen that has an SPF rating of at least 15 before you head out. Always reapply every 2-3 hours, especially after swimming or heavy sweating. Also make sure that you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.


Are indoor tanning booths safe? 

You may see that some indoor tanning salons advertise that they have a safer tanning method. The truth is that they are still exposing you to dangerous and damaging UV radiation. In fact, many states feel that indoor tanning salons are dangerous enough to ban minors from using them.


How to get a safe tan 

If you’re still looking for that perfect glow for your skin, but don’t want to risk the chance of getting skin cancer, try sunless tanning products that you can apply onto your skin or salons that offer airbrush tanning. These are the only methods that are considered safe.


Where to find more information on skin cancer prevention

January 24, 2015

How Fast Does Hair Grow?

Hair on the scalp grows about 0.3 to 0.4 millimeter per day or about 6 inches per year. Unlike other mammals, human hair growth and shedding is random and not seasonal or cyclical.


What Can Hurt Your Hair?

  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Exposure to sea water or chlorine in the swimming pool
  • Use of curling or hair straightening irons
  • Excessive heat when blow drying
  • Excessive and hard brushing
  • Chemicals in styling products.
  • Chemicals for hair coloring, straightening, and permanent waving


What Are “Split Ends”?

Split ends are, literally, splitting of hairs at the ends. It is typically caused by over-use of styling chemicals, frequent or excessive rubbing while washing the hair. Although split ends cannot be completely prevented, routine haircuts and careful washing/styling habits will help improve the appearance of your hair.


What Happens When I Dye My Hair?

The hair shaft consists of layers of structured proteins (keratins) and protective oils. In order for hair color to be changed, the natural oils have to be partially removed by a bleaching agent and the keratin layers have to be “softened,” so that the coloring agent is able to penetrate and stain the cortex keratins with the desired color. Together, these changes make the hair shaft “drier” and more brittle. Frequent hair-color changes (more than once in 4 to 6 weeks) may result in damages such as split ends, dryness, and difficulty in brushing which cannot be reversed.

Is It Normal for Hair to Fall Off When Brushing?

Absolutely! A healthy person with a full head of hair will shed on average 50 to 100 “dead” hairs per day. Shedding can be influenced by factors such as age, change in hormones, nutrition, skin disease, stress, exposure to radiation and certain chemicals. However, losing a small amount of hairs on a daily basis is normal.


Tips for Brushing Your Hair:

  • Don’t believe in the “100 strokes a day” myth; excessive brushing causes more harm than good.
  • Never back-brush or backcomb hair; follow its natural direction.
  • Use a wide-toothed comb instead of a brush.
  • Be patient and careful when working through tangles.
January 24, 2015

Two Main Types of Contact Lenses:

Contact lenses are tiny discs of plastic placed on the surface of the eye, as a substitute for wearing glasses. Contact lenses are made of different types of plastics, but they fall into two main categories:

  • Soft contact lenses are gel-like and conform to the shape of your eye. They are very comfortable and are hardly noticeable once the lenses are placed on the eye. The replacement schedule ranges from daily to monthly disposable, and some are designed for extended wear overnight.
  • Gas permeable (GP) contact lenses are more rigid and smaller in diameter. Compared to soft lenses, GP lenses are more durable, allow more oxygen to enter your eyes, and can correct certain vision problems. However, they may be less comfortable initially and take a longer time to get used to.


Advantages of Contact Lenses:

  • They move with your eye, allowing a natural field of vision.
  • There are no frames or reflections to block your view.
  • They don’t fog up.
  • They do not get in the way of your activities.
  • You can wear sunglasses over them.


Disadvantages of Contact Lenses:

  • They require more time for lens care than glasses.
  • You have to clean and store them properly, comply with lens-wearing schedules, and make appointments for follow-up care.
  • Improper use of contact lenses puts you at risk for several serious conditions, including eye irritations, infections, and corneal abrasions.


Can Anyone Wear Contact Lenses?

Most people who want to wear contact lenses can wear them, but contacts may not be a good option for people who:

  • Have had repeated eye infections.
  • Have severe allergies.
  • Have dry eyes.
  • Have a work environment that is dusty or dirty.
  • Have eye conditions that prevent contact lens wear.


Are Contact Lenses Hard to Take Care Of?

It differs from lens to lens:

  • Gas Permeable contacts, which last for years, need daily cleaning and disinfecting. Their slick surface resist deposit buildup, so enzyme cleaning is generally not necessary.
  • Daily soft disposable lenses are for one-time wearing, with no maintenance required.
  • Weekly to monthly soft disposable lenses are cleaned at the end of the day and then soaked in disinfecting solution until they are worn again.

Multipurpose or hydrogen peroxide solution is used to clean, disinfect, and remove protein deposits from most types of contact lenses.


Can I Sleep with Contact Lenses on?

It depends on the type of lenses you are wearing, your general eye health, and other factors. Most types of lenses are not designed for overnight wearing, and doing so could lead to serious eye problems. If you are in need of extended/overnight contact lenses, ask your doctor for his/her recommendation.


Follow These Recommendations by the American Optometric Association for Lens Care:


  • Always wash your hands before handling contact lenses.
  • Clean the lenses regularly and carefully as directed.
  • Store lenses in the proper lens case and replace the case at least once every 3 months. Use only fresh solution to clean and store contact lenses.
  • Use only products recommended by your optometrist to clean and disinfect your lenses.
  • Replace lenses as scheduled.
  • Remove contact lenses before swimming or entering a hot tub.
  • Visit your optometrist for routine eye exams.


  • Don’t sleep with contact lenses on as it increases your chance of irritation or infection.
  • Don’t moisten contact lenses with saliva; it is full of bacteria.
  • Don’t use tap water to wash or store contact lenses.
  • Don’t transfer contact lens solutions into smaller travel size containers.
  • Don’t use hand creams or lotions before handling contacts.
  • Don’t share or swap lenses with others.
  • Don’t purchase lenses from unauthorized vendors.


Symptoms of Eye Irritation or Infection:

If you experience any of the following, remove your lenses immediately and contact your eye care professional right away.

  • Blurred or fuzzy vision, especially if it occurs suddenly
  • Excess tearing or other discharge
  • Itching, burning, or gritty feelings
  • Unusual redness
  • Unusual sensitivity to light
  • Pain in and around the eyes
January 24, 2015

What Is Acne?

Acne is also known as pimples, blemishes, and zits. It is a skin condition that typically appears on the face, neck, chest, back, and shoulders, which are areas of your skin that have a large number of oil glands. Formation of acne is caused by the buildup of oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria in the hair follicles (skin pores). On a daily basis, your skin sheds dead cells and produces oil, and the rate at which this happens is affected by hormones. Acne occurs when these natural processes are off-balance.


Who Gets Acne?

Anyone! Over 90% of teenagers develop acne, and it is estimated that about 25% adults between the ages of 25-45 experience acne as well. As mentioned before, acne formation is related to hormonal levels, which fluctuate throughout your life. Acne caused by hormonal imbalance is especially common among:

  • Teenagers, both boys and girls.
  • Women and girls, 2-7 days before their periods.
  • Pregnant women.
  • People using certain medications that affect hormonal levels.


Treatment for Acne: 

A variety of over-the-counter skin care products are available to treat acne. Most of them include salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide as their active ingredient. They help to reduce oil production, speed up skin cell turnover, fight bacterial infection, and/or reduce inflammation. These products are available in many forms, such as gels, lotions, creams, soaps, or pads. With time and some trial-and-error, you will find the products that work best for you.

For more severe cases, you can talk to your doctor or dermatologist about a prescription medication, which can be used on the skin or taken by mouth. A combination of products may be used together. With most prescription acne treatments, it may take weeks to see results. Talk to your health care provider for recommendations and advice.

Does Acne Cause Scars?

Yes, acne can cause scars in some people. You can help reduce scarring by not squeezing or picking at blemishes. Also, avoid scrubbing your skin. If scarring does occur, various treatment options are available. Acne scar treatments usually require that a person’s skin is free of active acne. Opinions are mixed on the effectiveness of these treatments. Focus first on getting your skin clear of active acne, and then you can talk to your doctor to decide whether a scar treatment is right for you.


Tips for Preventing Acne:

  • Avoid direct skin exposure to oily substances, including oil-based cosmetics.
  • Avoid friction or pressure caused by items such as cell phones, helmets, and backpacks on acne-prone areas.
  • Wear as little makeup as possible because they can clog up skin pores.
  • Completely remove any makeup before going to bed.
  • Keep your skin clean, but do not wash acne-prone areas for more than twice a day because too much washing can
    irritate the skin and make the acne problem worse.
  • Use a gentle cleanser and skin care products that are suitable for your skin type.
  • Use an over-the-counter acne treatment to help dry excess oil.


Helpful Resources:

Posted in General Health, Health Topics by CCHRC | Tags: , , , , ,
October 22, 2014


What Are Cavities?

Cavities are structural damages in your teeth due to tooth decay. At any given time, there are many bacteria present in the mouth. These bacteria convert the sugar from food debris into acids, which attack the outer coating of the tooth (the enamel) and cause tooth decay. A combination of factors contributes to formation of cavities, including not cleaning your teeth well and frequent snacking or drinking of sugary beverages. Symptoms include visible pits in the teeth and toothache after consuming sweet, hot, or cold foods and drinks. If cavities are not treated, they can lead to large holes on the tooth and complications such as severe toothache, infection, and tooth loss.


Who Gets Cavities?

Anyone can get cavities, from infants to older adults. Cavities and tooth decay are one of the most common health problems around the world. They are especially common among children and young adults who do not pay attention to oral hygiene. Individuals with gum diseases, such as receding gums causing exposure of roots, are at higher risk of developing cavities. Pregnant women who frequently crave sugary foods are also more vulnerable.


How to Prevent Cavities and Tooth Decay

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride-containing toothpaste.
  • Floss between your teeth daily.
  • Minimize snacking, especially candy, chips, and sticky food items.
  • If possible, brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with water every time after eating.
  • If your dentist thinks that you are at high risk of developing cavities, use a fluoridated mouth rinse.
  • Drink more water or choose unsweetened/sugar-free beverages.
  • Don’t drink only bottled water. Fluoride has been added to tap water to significantly reduce tooth decay.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for oral examinations and x-rays to detect cavities and other dental problems.
  • Have your teeth cleaned professionally every 6 months.