Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Covering up on the beach

I was recently reminded of a media story concerning a young Australian woman who flew half way around the world to sit on a French beach wearing her Burka. The recollection happened whilst I was walking past Bondi Beach in Sydney where there was not a Burka in sight!

Aside from the reason for her international actions - which I am neither privy to or in a position to pass judgment on - I do admire her for "Covering Up" under the blue skies of a Mediterranean beach. I would however, challenge her choice of colour, black not being my first choice for a covering. In fact I suspect that she must have been gently simmering under the French sunshine. But if you go back several decades when Roman Catholic Nuns had no choice but to wear similar gear whilst administering to souls throughout the Australian outback. Not that wearing black was a health risk per se, just hellishly hot! Those Catholic Sisters actually succumbed to a more insidious killer that still remains a deadly scourge in many parts of the world - Typhoid!

But I digress!

Summer is almost upon us here in the southern hemisphere and we do need to re-visit the annual alarm over the devastation power of sunshine - not only in the form of Global Warming - but also upon our human skin!

Even if you have the "best" skin in the world when you're young, believe me, it will get old and you won't appreciate what the sun did to it in those earlier decades. THE SUN IS INCREDIBLY POWERFUL. It's the equivalent of thousands of Thermo-Nuclear reactions occurring every minute which are pumping out radiation that will destroy anything that falls into it's gravitational field of influence. Thankfully the Earth is in the Goldilocks position - not too close to fry to a cinder, and not too distant to freeze into an ice-block.

But just because the Earth "got lucky", doesn't mean that rubbing sun screen on your skin will protect you 100% against the sun's rays. It's like believing that airbags will save you in a high speed accident. They might reduce the harm, but 100%????

Avoiding direct exposure to the suns rays when they are most powerful is the best option. Don't expose yourself to the sun for more than a few minutes at a time between the hours of 10am and 4pm. If you do then make sure you're fully covered up with appropriate clothing (preferably not black), use high protection sunblock on any exposed areas, wear a broad rimmed hat and UV protection sunglasses.

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Saturday, September 3, 2016

What's white and makes your face itch? Answer: Dandruff.

I've been working out at a rural GP practice about 110km (about 70 miles) east of Perth here in W Australia. It's a great time of year to visit the country as the crops are coming up and the countryside looks FANTASTIC. Most people are saying that it's the best start to the farming season for 50 years. But not the farmers themselves - all they say is "have you seen the price of wheat? Gorn through the floor mate!" But then, have you ever met a farmer who's truly satisfied with farming .... until the money is in the bank!
Country folk are a great bunch of people, but they suffer the same problems as most other communities and they suffer the same kind of tragedies too.
One patient came in to see me and I immediately thought to myself that I've seen that face before!
In fact I'd never seen the person before in my life. What I had recognized were the obvious signs of Seborrhoeic Dermatitis. This presents as a classical flakey, itchy, red rash in the Naso-Labial folds of the face, in the eyebrows and often in the ears and on the chin too. (see my diagram below)
The cause? A fungal infection of the scalp that we often call DANDRUFF!
By using an appropriate shampoo, not only do you clear up the fungal infection but you cure the rash on your face too!
Talk to your GP about it: they'll know what to prescribe.

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