University of Pennsylvania Health System

Penn Health and Wellness

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Powder Sunscreen, So Hot Right Now

Applying sunscreen, especially to your face, is something you should do every day, all year long.

“I don’t go a day without wearing sunscreen,” said Penn plastic surgeon, Ivona Percec, MD, PhD. “I tell all my patients that once in the morning is not enough. Your face is the number one thing exposed to the sun. Take care of it.”

But when it's humid and sunny outside, you know that sunscreen is only going to make you feel greasy and stickier. And when it's cooler and cloudy, you question the point and the effort involved.

Our Penn Plastic Surgery Skin Care team has a convenient solution to keep your skin protected in a fashionable way, for all four seasons: Powder sunscreen.

Powder sunscreen is mineral-based, so it acts as a shield and doesn’t break down as quickly as chemical sunscreen. Plus, it's easy and convenient to use; you can keep it in your purse or back pack.

The best part: no mess or oily hands and face. It's just like makeup. You sweep the compact brush onto your face, and it’s translucent.

Powder sunscreen is great for young children too. Kids never seem to be able to stand still and always complain about the feeling of having lotion smeared all over them. And unlike a spray which can miss spots or get in kids' eyes, powder can be applied with the quick and soft sweep of a brush.



There are several powder sunscreen products in the market, ranging from drugstore brands to ones you can only purchase through your clinical aesthetician.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to Choose Your Sunscreen

It’s no secret that sunscreen offers the best protection against skin cancer next to staying out of the sun altogether or covering up with sun protective clothing. However, most people don’t realize that the kind of sunscreen we use is also important. Did you know there are two main kinds of sunscreen? Chemical sunscreen and physical sunscreen.

Chemical Sunscreen vs. Physical Sunscreen – What’s the Difference?

A sunscreen is a compound (or lotion) that uses agents to block, deflect or reflect the sun’s rays.

To be effective, we recommend that all sunscreens be liberally applied (at least one ounce for the entire body) to all exposed areas of the body, at least 15 minutes before going outside.

Chemical sunscreens use up to a dozen ingredients that, when applied, are absorbed in the top layer of skin. They react with the skin to absorb UV rays and convert them into energy before they can harm the skin.

Chemical sunscreens aren’t as thick as physical ones, so they are often used in sunscreens specifically made for the face as well as those found in spray bottles. Since chemical sunscreens need to be absorbed into the skin, they must be applied at least 20 to 30 minutes before heading outdoors.

Physical sunscreens, sometimes called “natural or mineral” sunscreens, include two ingredients: zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. Together, these ingredients sit on top of the skin and deflect or reflect the sun’s rays.

Think of physical sunscreens like a shield, while chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the skin. Both ingredients work well to protect from UVA and UVB (broad spectrum) rays. Since physical sunscreens are thicker, they can leave a white cast on the skin.

Which Sunscreen Is Right for You?

Those with sensitive skin, especially young children, should opt for a physical/mineral sunscreen since those ingredients are milder. Those with darker skin may opt for a chemical sunscreen, since they don’t leave a white cast.

According to plastic surgeon, Ivona Percec, MD, PhD, “A chemical sunscreen really just protects against UB – the burning rays. In two hours that’s degraded by the sun. The mineral block [physical sunscreen] is the much better block because it protects against both UVA and UVP.”

Both types of sunscreen provide adequate protection. Your personal preference may help you decide what type of sunscreen is right for you.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Are Women Athletes More Susceptible to Injury?

Erik Thorell, DO, discusses if gender plays a role in individuals being more susceptible to injury. Dr. Thorell practices at Penn Medicine Woodbury Heights.

In a perfect world, every run would be completely pain-free. No soreness, no aches and no lingering effects from the previous workout. Unfortunately, many runners constantly deal with a slight disturbance. There are things that can be done by, both men and women, to reduce the risk of injury.

Injuries to athletes
Regardless of how careful you are, injuries do occur. And, for women, the rate of injury is slightly higher. Runner’s knee, stress fractures, shin splints and plantar fasciitis are all injuries that are more common with female runners.

“One anatomical difference between men and women leading to greater predisposition to lower extremity injuries is the wider female pelvis, which results in a larger Q-angle,” says Erik Thorell, DO. “This results in increased stress across the knee in particular.”

Simply put, men and women are built differently. Women tend to have smaller, weaker muscles supporting their knees, as well as more lax ligaments. They typically have a larger hip width to femoral length ratio, which leads to greater hip adduction (muscles located towards the lateral portion of the thigh contract and pull the thigh away from the midline of the body). Females are also more at risk of certain injuries because there is added motion in their hips and pelvis.

When it comes to bone injuries, females are, again, more susceptible than their male counterparts. Women have smaller bone dimensions and are predisposed to lower bone density. Also, estrogen, a hormone in women that protects bones, decreases sharply as women age. All of these factors increase the risk of broken bones.

“Though gender differences do predispose women more to certain musculoskeletal injuries, attention to bone health, nutrition, core strengthening and a well-structured exercise routine can mitigate some of these problems,” explains Dr. Thorell.

Tips to Reduce the Risk of Injury

Because women suffer sports injuries more often than men, it is important they take extra care prior to playing sports or exercising. Below we offer certain exercises and other helpful tips:
  • Leg lifts, back bridges and standing hip flexors help to improve motion and flexibility in the hip and glutes area.
  • Weight-bearing exercises help to build and maintain bone density.  Attend dance classes, go for hikes, pick up aerobics or simply get into fast walking.
  • Balance exercises, such as Tai-Chi, can help strengthen legs.
  • Wear proper footwear and work out on appropriate (not very hard) surfaces.
  • Don’t suddenly intensify or lengthen your workouts.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fitness Trackers – What’s All the Hype About?

Becoming more physically active and shedding a few pounds are two goals most adults strive to achieve. In today's busy world, though, it can sometimes be quite challenging to do so.

Perhaps in the past you've tried various diets and exercise programs, seeing little to
no results? And you ask yourself 'what’s left to try?' You want to be more active and healthier in general, but you just don't have the time to devote to it.

Enter the newest fitness craze - wireless fitness trackers.

These small devices are typically worn around the wrist and can track information about your overall health. Fitness trackers can sync wirelessly with computers or smartphones to display data including the number of steps taken throughout the day, calories burned, and the quality of your sleep. Also, most trackers allow you to enter the foods you've eaten throughout the day to keep track of calories and nutrition.

This latest advancement in personal fitness has many ecstatic, claiming it’s the answer to long-lasting weight loss. Could it be true? Do fitness trackers really help you effectively lose weight and live a sustainable, healthy lifestyle?

"While fitness trackers certainly can be a helpful tool to track health and weight loss progress, the individual still has to stay motivated to make dietary changes or keep up with that new exercise routine," says Lori M. Noble, MD, a primary care physician at Spruce Internal Medicine, located at the new Penn Medicine Washington Square. "Fitness technology can certainly add positive reinforcement, but it can’t pick an individual up off their couch or take the donut out of their hand."

Still, the health and fitness technology market is growing by 20% each year, making fitness trackers more popular by the minute. There are dozens of trackers currently on the market -- FitBit, Jawbone UP, and the Nike Fuelband being the most common.

All of these devices have corresponding apps that allow you to view and interact with all of the information it’s capturing. Most also have social features that allow you to connect with friends and other users online.

In addition to these apps, there are several health and fitness programs that have similar lifestyle tools to help you track your activity. MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper, Fitness Builder, and MapMyFitness are all apps that help you track your fitness without having to buy a somewhat costly fitness tracker.

Many people have made tracking their fitness a part of their daily lives. Because this technology is still somewhat new, there are questions that people have about the effectiveness of the devices.

 Fitness tracker or not, the most important thing to do is to get out there and stay active.

"Perhaps one of the most basic keys to sticking with an exercise routine is to make it fun – pick an activity that you enjoy so you actually look forward to scheduling it into your day," says Dr. Noble. "And if you start to get bored, change it up.  Rotating activities keeps your mind and your body engaged."

For those of you looking for extra motivation, sign up for the Penn Medicine Radnor Run on October 26, 2014! This fun, 5-mile run will give you something to work towards as you stay active this summer.


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