KRON 4 | Germs You Get from Gyms

Your doctor told you to get some exercise, so you go to the gym, but you end up with more than you bargained for. Fitness facilities can be icky germ factories. I’m armed with tips on how to get fit without getting sick.

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Breeding Grounds for a Wide Variety of Germs 

Fitness studios or gyms may be places to get healthy, but they’re also breeding grounds for a host of germs — particularly Staphylococcus bacteria or “staph”. 

A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found 25 different categories of bacteria lurking in fitness centers.

Why Germs Thrive

Cold and flu season will be creeping up on us again soon, so beware of those coughers and sneezers who can quickly spread viruses from one treadmill to the next. 

But… the majority of germs that people pick up at their favorite fitness studio are those that affect the skin. 

Bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause skin infections thrive in SWEAT. Warm, moist areas are particularly problematic.

Sweat gets left behind on:

    • Exercise equipment (from rowers to reformers, weights, and boxing gloves to basketballs), mats, and machines
    • Handrails, towels
    • Saunas, showers, swimming pool decks
    • Locker room benches, toilet/door handles
If you’re sweaty, it’s likely your hands AND gloves are sweaty too.

The Most Common Germs 

The following skin problems are the most common ones you can pick up at a fitness facility:

1. Athlete’s Foot and Jock Itch

  • Blame these conditions on fungus.
  • Fungi (pronounced “fun-guy”) reproduce through tiny spores in the air. That means, you can inhale the spores or they can land on you! As a result, fungal infections often begin in your lungs or on your skin. That means they’re easy to get and PASS AROUND.
  • Fungi, the plural for fungus, live and reproduce in the air, in soil and water, on plants… and on YOU. Those embarrassing health conditions mentioned above are caused by an excessive amount of fungus growing on the surface of your skin. Think of that fuzzy green mold that grows on decaying old fruit hiding in the back of your frig or the mildew that grows on shower walls. Same idea.
  • Only half of them are harmful, but they can be annoying, ITCHY and difficult to kill. If you have a circulation problem, weakened immune system, diabetes, or take antibiotics, you may be more likely to get a fungal infection. (Antibiotics may disrupt the balance of natural microflora in your system which causes fungi to overpopulate.) It’s important to get treatment at the first sign of a problem.

2. Hot-Tub Rash

  • When levels of disinfectants (like chlorine) are too low in swimming pools and hot tubs, you can get an itchy red rash from the bacteria that you pick up.

3. Plantar Warts

  • This virus infects feet, so don’t go barefoot in the locker room, gym showers, or exercise studios.

4. Impetigo (im-pe-TEE-go)

  • This HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS infection is caused by a staph or strep bacteria.
  • It gets into your body through broken skin (a cut, scrape or insect bite).
  • Transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, contaminated towels, and sports equipment.
Sports equipment is a carrier for germs. Disinfect the ball with wipes and wash your hands.

5. Staph Infections and MRSA    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Germs You Get from Gyms”

KRON 4 | The ABC’s of Sunscreens

Studies show that those who regularly used sunscreens were more likely to burn than those who did not. I explain why and what to do about it with KRON 4 Morning News Anchor, Marty Gonzalez.

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Why Sunscreen Users Burn

Possible reasons for this finding* are that sunscreen users:

    1. May have a false sense of security.
    2. Justify staying outdoors loner.
    3. Don’t follow label directions properly.

*National Health Interview Survey of 31,000 Americans recently published in JAMA Dermatology.

Commonly Missed Spots

The most commonly overlooked areas when it comes to applying sunscreen are the most vulnerable to skin cancer. These body parts are exposed to the sun almost daily and not covered up during the colder months.

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The scalp, ears, back of neck, hands, lips, & arms are exposed to aging UVA rays all year around.
  • Scalp: Use an oil-free sunscreen (least greasy option for hair) if you’re bald, shave your head, and on your part.
  • Ears: Cancer occurs frequently on the ears.
  • Eyelids: Cancers often develop on the skin around the eyes. Difficult to protect with sunscreen if you don’t want lotion in your eyes. Wear wrap-around sunglasses with UV-blocking lenses.
  • Lips: One of the highest risk areas for squamous cell cancer. When they develop on the lips, there is the highest chance of spreading and 35% chance of recurrence. RISK OF DEATH could be as high as 15%.
  • Hands: If you wash your hands after applying sunscreen, the backs of your hands end up with zero sun protection. Must reapply sunscreen onto backs of your hands after washing them (that includes after using the restroom too). Remember… when driving, the backs of your hands, arms, and face are highly exposed to UVA aging rays. Glass filters out only one kind of radiation — UVB rays.
Driving
Wear sunscreen when driving. UVA rays, which penetrate deeper, can still get through glass.
  • Back of the neck:  This is a high-risk zone for basal and squamous cell cancer. Even if your have long hair, it needs sunscreen.
  •  Back: According to the American Cancer Society, men are particularly at high risk of developing deadly melanoma on their backs. The back is a difficult area to apply sunscreen and often leads to severe sunburns.

sunburn on back

ALERT! If you’ve had five or more blistering sunburns, your risk of melanoma is increased by 80% and your risk of non-melanoma skin cancer is increased by 68%.

  • Feet: If wearing sandals or have bare feet, your skin can burn easily. Apply sunscreen to tops of the feet.

Date and Shake Your Sunscreen

  • Mark the date that you opened the sunscreen with a waterproof marker if there is no expiration date. Sunscreens are meant to maintain their original potency for 3 years.
  • Shake it (even if the directions don’t say to) to distribute the active ingredients throughout the product.

Use Enough Sunscreen   

Continue reading “KRON 4 | The ABC’s of Sunscreens”

KRON 4 | Skin Cancer Kills — Don’t Let It Get You

One third of U.S. adults are getting sunburned each year which raises their risk of skin cancer. Getting just one sunburn every two years can triple your risk of melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. I was diagnosed with skin cancer in August 2013. For my story, click here.

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Three Major Types of Skin Cancer

  • Melanoma (most aggressive and deadly) — Men are more likely to DIE of melanoma than women. 
  • Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) – Most common
  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) – 2nd most that

Researchers believe that men are more vulnerable to melanoma than women due to the differences in their skin. Men tend to have thicker skin with less fat beneath it and it contains more proteins (collagen and elastin). These are the fibers that give skin their youthful appearance as they provide firmness and keep it tight. Perhaps why some men seem to age more gracefully than women?

A man’s skin is more prone to melanoma than a woman’s skin.

But here’s the bad news… researchers are correlating these skin differences to being more likely to be damaged by the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. A study conducted in the Netherlands found that men’s skin reacted more intensely to UV rays than did women’s skin. A separate study reached the same conclusion.

How My Cancer Saved My Husband’s Life

Cancer of the skin is the most common of all types of cancer. I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma five years ago (August 2013) and have not had any recurrences or new lesions. Here’s what happened to me: Why I’m Now a Statistic.

When I was diagnosed, it shocked my family because beginning in my mid-20’s, I became a sunscreen fanatic (a.k.a. the Sunscreen Police). After my diagnosis, I cunningly managed to get my husband to make an appointment for his first skin cancer screening. As a competitive swimmer in his youth and a ‘sunscreen resistor’, if I could have cancer, he was also at risk.

As a result, my husband was diagnosed with MELANOMA. Fortunately, because his cancer was caught early (Stage 0), the cells were only found in the outer layer of his skin. To put this in perspective, melanoma at Stage 3 has spread to the lymph nodes. Melanoma is an aggressive, fast-growing, deadly form of cancer. It can grow rapidly within WEEKS! You must be diligent and act fast.

What Is Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC)?

  • Basal cell carcinoma accounts for 8 out of 10 skin cancers and usually develops on areas exposed to the sun, such as the head, face and neck, but they can occur anywhere. 
  • It affects people of all ages.
  • Grows slowly and it’s very rare for basal cell carcinoma to spread to nearby lymph nodes or to distant parts of the body. 
  • It is malignant because BCC invades and causes significant destruction of surrounding tissues and bone as it goes deep beneath the skin and can be disfiguring.
  • Over 50% of the people diagnosed with one basal cell cancer will develop a new skin cancer within five years.

My Treatment

The Mohs technique was used to remove my cancer because it was on my nose and this surgery could retain as much healthy tissue as possible. Mohs is appropriate where there are limited underlying layers of skin tissue. It is the best treatment for therapeutic and cosmetic results. Here’s more on my Mohs surgery. On the other hand, my husband’s melanoma (which was on his arm and visually quite small) was surgically removed with a very wide excision.

Skin Cancer Prevention 

Don’t brush off any changes on your skin as “nothing”. Protect yourself and your children.

1. Limit ultraviolet (UV) exposure. Whether you’re 8 or 80, have fair or dark skin, you need sunscreen if you’ll be out in the sun for LONGER THAN A FEW MINUTES. UVA rays age cells and can damage cells’ DNA. UVB rays can directly damage DNA and are a more potent cause of sunburns and skin cancer. To protect yourself, follow the “Slip, Slop, Slap, and Wrap” catch phrase.    Continue reading “KRON 4 | Skin Cancer Kills — Don’t Let It Get You”

Quick Fix for Life’s Embarrassing Health Conditions

Itchy Man Cartoon_AdobeStock_85546839If you’ve ever had an annoying bout of athlete’s foot, jock itch, ringworm, or a vaginal yeast infection, blame it on fungus. Fungus, you say? Wait a minute… you had mushrooms on your salad last night. Aren’t they a form of fungus? Yep. A fungus is actually a primitive vegetable, just like mushrooms.

Fungi (pronounced “fun-guy”), the plural for fungus, live and reproduce in the air, in soil and water, on plants… and on YOU. Those embarrassing health conditions mentioned above are caused by an excessive amount of fungus growing on the surface of your skin. Think of that fuzzy green mold that grows on decaying old fruit hiding in the back of your frig or the mildew that grows on shower walls. Same idea.

Please Don’t Pass the Fungi

Fungi reproduce through tiny spores in the air. That means, you can inhale the spores or they can land on you! As a result, fungal infections often begin in your lungs or on your skin. That means they’re easy to get and PASS AROUND.

Only half of them are harmful, but they can be annoying, itchy and difficult to kill. If you have a circulation problem, weakened immune system, diabetes, or take antibiotics, you may be more likely to get a fungal infection. (Antibiotics may disrupt the balance of natural microflora in your system which causes fungi to overpopulate.) It’s important to get treatment at the first sign of a problem.

Where They Thrive

Fungi will grow on anything and can multiple in enormous mass. They grow best in areas that are warm, dark and damp, such as:

  • Locker rooms
  • Exercise machines that haven’t been disinfected after use
  • Boxing gloves
  • Shared towels, clothing or footwear (e.g., rental bowling shoes, ski boots, ice skates, or roller skates)
  • Tanning beds
  • Skin folds
  • Toenails and fingernails
  • Plastic gloves

Treatment

In healthy people, fungi don’t spread beyond the skin’s surface, so they’re easy to treat with a topical ointment. But for a serious and more persistent infection, you may have to take an oral antifungal medication.

Get Out of Gross Gear

Since I’m always encouraging you to exercise which involves some degree of sweat, be aware that fungi grow in sweaty gear. Here are a few antifungal fitness tips:    Continue reading “Quick Fix for Life’s Embarrassing Health Conditions”

Is Your Diet Causing Your Wrinkles?

concept of aging and skin care. face of young woman and an old woman with wrinkles isolated

Concerned about aging and looking older than you really are? Then don’t eat white sugar. Why? Because processed sugar binds to and eventually weakens the collagen in your skin. Save your money if you’re buying expensive skin creams, but eating processed sugar — the number-one ingredient to avoid if you want firm, resilient and radiant skin.

The skin is the largest organ of the body and one of the most revealing places where aging occurs.  Over time, your skin may lose its original ‘snug fit’ and begin to wrinkle and sag due in part to your collagen cells breaking down. Collagen is the main structural protein in connective tissue that provides strength to the skin. It’s abundant in blood vessels, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and bone as well.

The sugar-collagen reaction can lead to premature wrinkles and sagging. Sweet Tooth = Wrinkles. All those sugary donuts, Danishes and cookies may be hard to resist despite knowing they could end up settling on your hips and waistline, but perhaps thinking about them showing up as wrinkles on your face and neck or as ‘crepey’, loose skin may help strengthen your will to resist them.

Apple c heart symbol_40x54Remember… sugar speeds up the aging process. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits every day to get the essential components for healthy skin – AND a strong heart! Eat 8-10 total servings daily of fruits and vegetables. That is, 5 or more vegetable servings + 3 fruit servings. Get Real Food! Coming soon… why your heart needs collagen too! 

VIDEOS: Watch Karen’s videos on what to eat for healthy skin. Get science-based info on skin nutrition in less than 3 minutes.

Top Anti-Aging Foods: Part 1 | Best Diet for Your Skin (02:53)
The skin needs essential vitamins to function and look its best.
Discover which ones you need and where to get them. Karen Owoc, The
Health Reporter, provides an overview of the foods to eat to get the key
vitamins necessary for healthy, youthful and glowing skin.

Top Anti-Aging Foods: Part 2 | Best Diet for Your Skin (02:36)
Healthy skin needs essential minerals and fats to do its job and to look its best. Find out which ones you need and where to get them. Karen Owoc, The Health Reporter, identifies the essential fatty acids and minerals that keep your skin smooth and radiant.