How to Protect Your Skin During Sunny Summer Months

Each year two million Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer—the most common form of cancer. This summer we may find ourselves outside more often in order to safely socially distance, breathe fresh air, and exercise daily. It’s important to remember that even though it may be cloudy or shady, protecting your skin remains a priority. Here are some tips to keep in mind while enjoying the outdoors:

 

Apply SPF: UV rays can damage or burn your skin any time of the year, not just in the sunny summer months. Even when it’s cloudy or cooler outside, apply an SPF 30 or facial moisturizer with SPF before heading out. Reapply every two hours and be sure to cover all exposed areas, including your face, hands, ears and neck.

 

Use lip balm: Your lips can be sensitive to drying out and cracking going from hot humid air to frigid air conditioning. If you already use lip balm, try swapping it out for a brand with SPF in it.

 

Wear sunglasses: Whether it’s cloudy or sunny, UV rays can reflect off bright surfaces and cause damage. Protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses that block 99% of UV rays whenever you’re driving, biking, or gardening in the backyard.

 

Know your environment: In higher altitudes, you’re at a higher risk for skin damage from the sun. This is because the atmosphere is thinner as you travel higher above sea level. If you’re planning to go hiking, rock climbing, or any other activity in the mountains, be extra vigilant about wearing SPF, protecting your skin from the elements and wearing appropriate eye protection.

 

 

Sources: mdanderson.org, skincancer.org

 

 

DFD’s Guide to Ticks

Tick counts have been on the rise in Maine and along with them tick-borne disease and illnesses. To keep yourself, your family and your pets protected refer to our tick guide regularly.

Identification

There are over 15 different types of ticks present in Maine. The most common are dog and deer ticks.

  • Deer Tick also called black-legged tick. The size of a deer tick will vary depending on the stage of its life cycle. An adult female has a reddish-brown body, while a male is dark brown. Deer ticks are known to cause Lyme disease, anaplasmosis, babesiosis and Powassan. These infections and diseases have potentially serious consequences if not treated immediately.
  • Dog Tick also called a wood tick. Adult female and males are a dark brown color with males sometimes having spots on its back. Dog ticks are not known to transmit Lyme disease.

NOTE: Dog ticks are NOT active in October and November. Almost all ticks found at this time are deer ticks.

Prevention

There are many things you can do to help prevent ticks from attaching themselves to you, your family or your pets.

Property

  • Clear leaf litter away from your house.
  • Move picnic tables, swing sets or play areas away from wooded areas
  • Stack firewood in neat piles off the ground
  • Create a 3′ barrier between yard and wooded areas using wood chips
  • Keep grass cut short; don’t let long grasses or weeds grow in your yard
  • Discourage wildlife (rodents, deer) from entering your property by cleaning up trash or food sources

Pets

  • Keep pets away from tall grasses, wooded areas or habitats where it’s likely ticks are abundant
  • Spray pets with a safe tick spray or bug repellant
  • Give your pets a vaccine or tick/flea preventative medication
  • Check your pets daily for signs of tick bites, attached ticks, or ticks hiding in fur. Be sure to look in/around ears, between toes and paw pads, belly and base of tail.

NOTE: If your pet has signs of fatigue, lameness, fever or lack of appetite, call your veterinarian right away.

Family

  • Use insect repellant whenever spending time outdoors
  • Wear light-colored, long-sleeved clothing to better see ticks
  • Tuck your pant legs into your socks if walking in tall grass or wooded areas
  • After being outdoors, place clothes in dryer on high heat for at least 10 mins
  • A shower will rinse off any unattached ticks
  • Avoid areas known to inhabit ticks

Tick Checks

Checking yourself, your family and your pets for ticks should be done consistently, carefully and immediately after spending time outdoors, especially in areas and during times when ticks are most active.

  1. Run fingers through your hair, hairline and through your scalp, feeling for any bumps. Use a comb to brush through hair, looking for unattached ticks.
  2. Check in and around your ears and neck.
  3. Carefully look between fingers and toes.
  4. Check behind knees and underarms—these are favorites for ticks as they’re warm and secure places to hide.
  5. Look around belly button, between legs and on your back. Use a mirror or have someone help you.
  6. Scan your entire body carefully, looking for anything unusual. Ticks can often resemble freckles or moles.

Removal

If you find a tick on yourself or your pet, it’s important to remove it immediately. Tick-borne disease and infections including Lyme, are usually transmitted within 36 hours of the initial tick bite. Act fast to prevent illness.

  • Using tweezers: Grab the tick as close to your skin as possible. Pull up with even and steady pressure. Try not to twist or jerk while removing a tick as this could cause material to get stuck in your skin which may increase inflammation or discomfort.
  • Using a tick spoon/remover: Place the notch of the spoon tightly against skin close to the tick. Applying downward pressure, slide spoon toward tick so that it gets caught in the notch. Continue sliding the spoon against skin until tick detaches. Do not lift up spoon or try to pry away from skin.

Once tick is removed, examine the bite wound for any potential tick material left in the skin. Thoroughly cleanse skin with warm soap and water. Dispose of the tick by placing it in alcohol or flushing it down the toilet.

NOTE: If you experience a rash, headaches, fever or flu-like symptoms after a recent tick bite, call your healthcare provider right away.

Lyme disease

Lyme disease is the most reported infectious tick-borne disease in Maine. If not treated right away, there could be dangerous consequences to your health. Remember, your pets can also contract Lyme diseases and other serious infections.

Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • General unease
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Headache
  • Chills, fever

If left untreated or undetected, other more serious symptoms may develop. These may include:

  • Hot, swollen joints
  • Shooting pain
  • Paralysis on one side of face
  • Dizziness

NOTE: Most cases of Lyme disease respond very well to antibiotics especially if treated early.

Tick Risk

It’s important to know the risk levels associated with ticks and potential tick bites. The following information can also be found on Maine Medical Center’s Research Institute webpage.

Location

Low risk: Northern and northwestern Maine. Few ticks live in this region of the state.
Medium risk: Central and Downeast Maine. This climate is ideal for deer ticks to live.
High risk: Southern and coastal Maine. Deer ticks are established, reproducing and moving north.

Seasons

Low risk: Winter from December to March ticks are less active.
Medium risk: Late summer/early fall particularly August and September.
High risk: Spring, summer and mid-fall months are when deer ticks are highly active.

Property

Low risk: Urban areas and cities where there is little wildlife and trees.
Medium risk: Areas where there are some shrubs, leaf litter and bordering trees.
High risk: Wooded areas with active wildlife and lots of leaf litter.

Activity

Low risk: If you rarely spend time outdoors or if you only do during winter.
Medium risk: If you occasionally spend time outdoors, working or playing.
High risk: If you work and play outdoors often, especially in ticks established areas.

Are You Tick Smart?

Ticks thrive in Maine’s wooded and unmaintained areas, such as high grass and leaf debris. They are particularly established in southern and coastal parts of the state. This year is an especially high-risk season but there’s no need to be afraid as long as you’re being tick smart.

Prevent ticks from reaching your backyard:

  • Maintain your yard by mowing grass regularly and attending to leaves, shrubs, etc.
  • Wear long-sleeved and light-colored clothing
  • Use insect repellant with at least 20% Deet
  • Have your pets vaccinated or medicated against ticks
  • Have a professional spray a perimeter pesticide

 

MYTH: Ticks die every winter.

Check yourself every day for ticks that may have hitched a ride:

  • Have a partner/parent help to check areas you can’t easily see
  • Check between toes, hands, underarms, behind the knees, around and in ears and hair
  • Shower after being outside—this helps wash off any ticks
  • Don’t re-wear outdoor clothes; tumble dry on high to kill ticks trapped in clothing

 

MYTH: Every type of tick carries disease.

If you see a tick attached to your skin, remove it immediately. It takes 36 hours for bacteria to leave the tick and be injected into your body.

  • With tweezers: pull upward with steady, even pressure. Don’t jerk or twist—this may cause tick material to stay in your skin.
  • With a tick spoon: apply slight downward pressure to skin and push forward under the tick’s body.
  • Do not crush the tick with your fingers! Put in alcohol or flush it down the toilet.
  • Wash your hands immediately and soak tweezers in alcohol, if needed.

 

MYTH: You’ll know if you get a tick bite.

If you were recently bitten by a tick and removal was successful, it’s still important to check your skin. If you have a rash, headaches, fever and flu-like symptoms after a tick bite, call your primary care provider right away.

March is National Nutrition Month

Join DFD all month long in celebrating National Nutrition Month! A foundation of good nutrition habits is key in preventing disease, staying healthy, and living a longer life.

Did you know?

  • 65% of Mainers are obese or overweight
  • By 2030, half of all Americans will be obese
  • 80% of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented by diet and lifestyle changes

Take your health into your own hands! A great place to start is to begin to introduce new foods, rather than restricting foods as “off limits.” Add in more berries at breakfast, nuts and seeds for snacking, and more vegetables on your dinner plate. Nutritious eating leads to more energy, which leads to more physical activity – both leading to a higher quality of life.

DFD Celebrates Go Red for Women

Join DFD on February 1 as we wear red to raise awareness of the #1 killer of women: heart disease. Let’s fight together for our mothers, sisters, aunts and loved ones against this growing epidemic.

Did You Know?

  • Only 54% of women know heart disease is their #1 killer.
  • Heart disease is responsible for 1 in 4 female deaths every year.
  • 200,000 heart disease deaths could be prevented each year.

At DFD we’re committed to preventative health. Changing your lifestyle can prevent heart disease:

  • Get Active. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity every day.
  • Eat Healthy. Choose fruits, veggies and lean meats. Limit salt and sugars.
  • Quit Smoking. Quitting is the best thing you can do for your health. Ask us about our smoking cessation program to help you kick the habit for good.

 

Fend Off the Flu

The Influenza virus infects the nose, throat, and lungs. It can keep you in bed for weeks or even develop into a severe respiratory illness that requires hospitalization. Make sure you and your family stay flu-free this season.

Avoid the flu:

  • Get the flu shot.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough.
  • Avoid friends who are sick or have been sick in the last 5-7 days.
  • Wash your hands frequently.

Already have a cold or the flu? Take these steps to recover quickly:

  • Stay home, and get plenty of rest.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep your respiratory system hydrated.
  • Sit in a steamy bathroom or run a humidifier.
  • Treat aches and fever with medication like acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Ask your doctor which one is right for you.

School Safety 101

DFD’s helpful tips for a fun and safe school year.

Class is back in session and DFD is here to help get your child;s school year off to a safe and healthy start.

Your child’s backpack should:

  • Have a padded back
  • Have wide, padded shoulder straps
  • Be the right fit: below the shoulder blades and right at the waist

School Bus Rules

When getting on the bus, remind your children to:

  • Stay away from traffic when waiting for the bus
  • Line up away from the street or road as the bus approaches
  • Wait until the bus has completely stopped and the door opens before entering

While riding the bus, remind your children to:

  • Buckle up if seat belts are available
  • Stay in their seat
  • Keep aisles clear of books and bags
  • Wait for the bus to completely stop before getting up from your seat

When getting off the bus, remind your children to:

  • Use the handrail when exiting the bus
  • Make sure the driver can see them
  • Stay away from the rear wheels at all times
  • When crossing the street, wait for a signal from the bus driver

Stop bullying in its tracks.

Make sure your kids are ready for a kind and caring school year. Remind them that bullying is never ok.

  • 30% of young people admit to bullying others
  • 28% of students in grades 6-12 experience bullying
  • When bystanders intervene, bullying stops within 10 seconds

National Immunization Awareness Month

August is National Immunization Awareness Month and DFD wants to highlight the importance of vaccination for people of all ages. Vaccines help prevent dangerous and sometimes deadly diseases.

How does a vaccine work?

Vaccines are made from the same germs that cause disease, but the germs in the vaccines are either killed or weakened so they won’t make you sick. Once the vaccine is injected into your body, your immune system reacts to the vaccine by making antibodies. The antibodies destroy the vaccine germs, and then stay in your body, giving you immunity if you are ever exposed to the real disease. The antibodies are there to protect you!

Why are vaccines important?

Diseases like polio are becoming very rare in the U.S. because we have been vaccinating against them. However, vaccine-preventable diseases such as whooping cough and measles are still a threat and continue to infect U.S. children—resulting in hospitalizations and deaths each year.  The spread of dangerous diseases happen when children who aren’t vaccinated spread disease to other children who are too young to be vaccinated or to people with weakened immune systems.

Check out these new videos from the National Vaccine Program Office and learn how vaccines can keep you and the people you love stay healthy.