Skin Cancer: Who’s Most at Risk?

When you consider who is most at risk for skin cancer, it’s important to remember one key fact: no one is immune to skin cancer. While some people are more at risk than others due to a variety of factors (which are discussed below), the fact is that no one is totally risk free.

That said, there are some things that increase or decrease your risk of skin cancer.

Factors That Influence Skin Cancer Risk:

1. Freckles

If you freckle easily, this is your body’s signal that this is how it deals with sun exposure. If your skin tends to “make” freckles in response to sun exposure, then there may be a greater likelihood that your skin will respond by developing cancer.

2. Light Hair and Eyes

These physical traits are known to indicate an increased risk of skin cancer, particularly light blond and red hair.

3. Do You Burn Easily?

Even some light-skinned people do not burn very easily, but for those who do, cancer risk is likely increased. People who burn easily and do not tan have smaller amounts of melanin (pigment) in their skin. Melanin is the body’s natural protection against sun, so if you don’t have enough of it, your skin is more likely to burn.

4. Genes

Have others in your family had skin cancer? Experts agree that genetics play a role, and you may be more at risk if skin cancer “runs in the family.”

5. Moles

If you have a lot of moles – particularly on sun-exposed areas of your skin – then you may be more at risk for skin cancer. Large moles are especially vulnerable. Moles that change shape, size, or color should be checked by a doctor.

6. Sunburns in the Past

Did you have a lot of sunburns in the past, or one or two really bad ones? Many sources agree that this raises your risk of developing skin cancer significantly.

7. Sunbathing

Even if you sunbathe “responsibly,” getting a tan is essentially damaging your skin. The same goes for tanning salons and tanning booths. “Baking” in the sun or under lights to get a tan can raise your risk of skin cancer.

8. Geographical Location

If you live in an area with year-round sunlight that’s bright, you may have a greater risk of developing skin cancer. In Arizona, the risk of skin cancer is twice what it is in Minnesota, sources say.

9. Chemical Exposure

Some insecticides are made with a heavy metal called arsenic. Exposure to arsenic raises the risk of skin cancer. Exposure to coal, tar, paraffin, and some oils may also increase risk.

10. Gender

Did you know that sources say men are two to three times as likely as women to develop skin cancer? It may have to do with spending time shirtless in the sun, or being out more; but the statistics agree than men are more likely to get this disease.

Now that you know some of the main risk factors, you can take appropriate precautions and avoid skin cancer.

Facts About Hypothermia

Your body’s core temperature refers to the temperature of the body. Temperature can vary depending on the method in which the temperature is taking. Body temperature is typically measured orally (by mouth), rectally, axillary (under the arm), tympanic (by ear), and nowadays even by rolling a sensor over the temporal artery. Taking one’s temperature orally is most common.

A normal core temperature can vary; however, it typically remains close to 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Typically, temperature will fluctuate within a degree or two of this value. Extreme deviations from this body temperature can be harmful and potentially fatal.

An elevated temperature above 99-100 degrees Fahrenheit is typically referred to as a fever. The higher the fever, the more dangerous the condition. In contrast, a drop in body temperature below 95 degrees Fahrenheit is indicative of hypothermia, and a measurement below 86 degrees Fahrenheit is considered very severe.

The medical definition of hypothermia is the occurrence of a dangerous drop in body temperature to 95 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Hypothermia is a dangerous and life-threatening condition.

Symptoms of hypothermia, other than a body temperature of less than 95 degrees, include confusion and loss of coordination, exhaustion, slurred speech, and a weakened pulse. Shivering is often a first response to hypothermia, but can be a good sign that the body is working to heat itself. Most people relate hypothermia with incidents involving being immersed in cold water. While cold water certainly can cause hypothermia if the patient is not treated properly and quickly enough, this is actually not the most common cause of hypothermia.

Exposure is actually the most common cause of hypothermia. In the United States, it is the leading cause of death in homeless persons. When the body is exposed to rough conditions and harsh winter temperatures, it may have trouble heating itself to maintain an appropriate core body temperature.

Exposure could happen to anyone at any time. Temperatures do not even have to drop below freezing for hypothermia to be a risk. Not properly covering yourself or insulating your body against the cold with the use of appropriate clothing or blankets can put you at risk.

Alcohol is a substance that can cause hypothermia. Alcohol can increase blood flow in the body, which can make a person feel warmer, but in fact is lowering the body’s temperature.

Some illnesses can put people at risk of hypothermia. Diabetes and thyroid conditions can put a person at risk. Medications and drug use can also increase the risk of hypothermia. Some medications lower the body’s core temperature, but your doctor and pharmacist will usually warn you about any risks. Drug use can put the body at risk for a multitude of assorted health problems, including hypothermia by quickly lowering the body’s core temperature.

If you or someone you see is potentially suffering from the symptoms of hypothermia, take action to prevent the condition from worsening. Get the patient away from any cold, wet, or damp areas. Replace any wet clothing and cover the patient in warm blankets. Offer the victim warm liquids such as hot water or tea, but avoid caffeinated beverages that constrict blood vessels. Possibly most importantly, get the patient to a hospital or medical facility as soon as possible.

External Allergies That Can Affect a Baby

External allergies are substances that cause an allergic reaction on the skin or in the respiratory tract. These substances are not generally harmful in and of themselves, but in sensitive individuals, things like dust or pet dander can send them into an allergic state. Babies, with their sensitive skin and developing immune systems, can also experience allergies.

Substances that are touched or inhaled cause reactions in areas of the body such as the skin, throat, lungs, eyes, ears, and/or nose. So basically, external allergies involve the skin and respiratory tract.

What are babies allergic to, and what are the symptoms? Babies can be allergic to the very things adults are…they also may be allergic to substances that the adults around them are not, making the allergies easy to overlook.

Let’s take a look at some of the allergies that can affect a baby.

1. Pollen allergies can affect babies with cold-like symptoms. Experts note that colds in babies generally produce cloudy or yellow mucous discharge that clears up in a week or so. But allergies go on longer and the nasal discharge tends to be clear and thin. Of course, a big indicator is the time of year – spring and fall and big allergy seasons.

2. Pet allergies are often not considered by parents if they themselves are not allergic to their “fur babies.” But the truth is, babies of all ages can be allergic to pets (including birds). If your baby seems to “keep a cold” and you have pets, it may be the dog, cat, bird, guinea pig, rabbit, etc. who is the culprit. Pet allergies can also cause red, teary eyes, hives, and wheezing.

3. Laundry Soap

Washing powder and laundry soap can cause allergic reactions on baby’s skin, such as rashes, redness, and swelling. Even if the detergent is “what you’ve always used,” it’s worth considering as a possible cause of skin allergies.

4. Smoke

Second-hand smoke has been shown time and time again to harm babies’ respiratory systems. In fact, smoke from cigarettes, cigars, pipes, etc. may be beyond just an “allergy” and do real damage. Still, if you or someone in your household smokes and your baby is showing signs of respiratory discomfort or distress, it just may be the smoke.

5. Dust

Dust – or more correctly, dust mites – can cause a host of allergic symptoms, such as:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Hives
  • Wheezing

Dust can be in carpets, pillows, bedding, stuffed animals…it’s hard to eradicate, but there are measures you can take to lessen baby’s contact with this common allergen.