Wellness Matters

Blog Posts

5 Tips for Protecting Your Skin from the Sun

5 Tips for Protecting your skin from the sun
It’s summertime, and many of us are headed to the beach for sand, surf and sun! But don’t forget—skin cancer will affect 9,500 people every day, and 1 in 5 people will get skin cancer in their lifetime. Don’t let yourself be a statistic!

By now, everyone knows that sunscreen is important. But are you getting the most out of yours? Here are a few tips to ensure you get the best protection.
  1. If you are going to be outside for extended periods, aim for an SPF of at least 30 with both UVA and UVB protection.
  2. Apply every 2 hours, and reapply every time you swim or sweat.
  3. You need about a “shot glass” full of sunscreen to cover the whole body, so don’t skimp. You need a nickel-sized amount on your face alone. For spray sunscreens, apply until the area is glistening—about 6 seconds per body part. And be sure to rub it in. 
  4. UVA rays penetrate car windows, so sun protection is important in the car, too.
  5. Sunscreen expires, so check those dates on the tube under the counter! 
In addition, consider some of the new, breathable clothing with built-in SPF. These fabrics are especially good for young children and babies, whose skin is more sensitive.

Earlier detection saves lives, so see your dermatologist annually for a checkup. But if you have a mole that is changing in size, shape or color, get it checked out right away!

Be safe, play outside, and have fun!

About the Author


Natalie Depcik-Smith, MD

Natalie Depcik-Smith, MD practices Dematopathology/Pathology and Laboratory Medicine with Greensboro Pathology

4 Benefits of Exercising Over 50

4 Benefits of Exercising Over 50
People over the age of 50 often feel crunched for time due to work, children, aging parents and a host of life situations. Finding time to exercise is often last on the list of priorities for this group, but there are many good reasons to move exercise to the top of that list.

At this age we begin to accelerate the loss of bone mass; women's estrogen levels decline, increasing the risk of cardiac disease and osteoporosis; and our metabolism slows, making weight management more difficult. Exercise has many benefits which can combat those changes and, putting the icing on the cake, reduce stress. Michael Cooper, MD, a cardiologist at Cone Health Medical Group HeartCare, explains it clearly:

"Regular exercise prevents many of the medical problems associated with aging including developing type II diabetes and developing insulin resistance. It can facilitate weight loss which can help prevent and treat high blood pressure, type II diabetes and high cholesterol. All of these problems contribute to cardiovascular disease such as heart attacks and strokes. Exercise needs to be part of your normal routine and needs to be done 5-6 days per week."

When asked about combining exercise and diet to reduce the risk of developing medical problems, Dr. Cooper said, “If you combine regular exercise with a prudent diet, it's one of the best ways to minimize the number of medications you need to take as you grow older. Changing your lifestyle can sometimes prevent needing insulin in those with type 2 diabetes.”

There are many benefits to exercise and those benefits become even more important as we age, so get out there and exercise, everyone! It will keep you:
  1. Moving longer
  2. Reduce your risk of disease
  3. Reduce the number of medications you need
  4. Keep you happy and healthy. 

 And who would say no to those perks?

About the Author



Marti Smith, PT, Physical Therapist at Cone Outpatient Cancer Rehab

4 Steps to Prevent Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever

4 Steps to Prevent Lyme Disease
According to the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Health and Human Services, Tick borne illness is on the rise in North Carolina. There has been an uptick in cases of Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. The diseases are caused by a bacterium transferred to humans who are bitten by infected deer or black legged ticks. These ticks are increasing in population and have been reported in 60 counties.

Typical symptoms are fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash. Symptoms are usually treated using antibiotics. If these diseases are left untreated, it can spread to the joints, the heart and the nervous system causing chronic fatigue, joint and muscle pain and cognitive impairment, which involve problems with memory, language and thinking.

You can decrease your chances of catching tick borne illnesses by:
  1. Avoiding places where ticks reside. Ticks live in wooded and brushy areas where there is tall grass and dead leaves. If you are going to be working or playing in this type of area, wear long pants, long sleeves, a hat and keep your feet covered. If you are hiking, stay in the middle of the trail.
  2. Removing ticks promptly. Take a bath or shower after coming indoors to wash off unlatched ticks and search for any ticks that may be attached. Carefully check under the arms, around the ears, in the belly button, behind the knees, around the waist and in the hair.
  3. Examining any equipment and pets that have been outdoors. Place any clothing worn in a tick infested area in a hot dryer for at least 10 minutes to kill ticks that may be on the garments.
  4. Using insect repellant with at least 20 percent DEET or picardin on exposed skin. Treat clothing with a product that contains at least 0.5 percent permethrin. This will deter ticks from hitching a ride on your clothes. It should be effective for several washings.


Too Little for Too Much: 4 Tips for Avoiding Overuse Injuries in Young Athletes

4 Tips for Avoiding Overuse Injuries in Young Athletes
Our children are being asked to do more and more in the name of sports. They are asked to choose their sport at an earlier age, “be the best” at their sport, and participate in longer, more frequent practices. Is all this healthy for our children? The answer is a resounding NO! Early sport specialization and the increased hours of practice that go with it have increased the risk of overuse injuries in young athletes.

An overuse injury is damage to a muscle, tendon, ligament or bone caused by repetitive stress such as shin splints, tennis elbow and runner’s knee. Children are particularly at risk because their bones are still growing and thus less able to tolerate stress. Remarkably, over half of all sports related injuries in children are from overuse.

Fortunately, there are several things you can have your child do to avoid these problems:
A proper warm-up and cool-down is essential. This will prepare the muscles and ligaments for the stress of practice and help recovery after practice.
  1. Avoid participating in any single sport more than five days/week. The body needs at least 1-2 days/week for rest and recovery.
  2. An athlete should only participate in one sport and on one team each season. 
  3. If an older athlete is starting to specialize in their sport, they still need a combined three months off per year from their sport (though this can be spread out in one month increments).
  4. Know the recommendations and restrictions for each sport and follow them. For instance, there are guidelines for how many pitches a young baseball player can throw in a day (and then how many days of rest should occur). This should include pitches during team practice, games and “throwing a few” in the backyard with parents or friends.

Preventing overuse injuries will not only allow children to keep playing their sport, but following the suggestions above will also decrease their risk of burnout with their sport. If you feel that your child might have an overuse injury, physical therapy and occupational therapy can help them recover and learn strategies to avoid future injuries.

About the Author


Margie Moton, PT, Physical Therapist at Moses Cone Hospital Acute Rehab

Asking These 15 Questions Could Save a Life

women stopping domestic abuse
Each year, more than 10 million Americans are physically abused by an intimate partner. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, physical violence is often accompanied by emotional abuse, psychological abuse, economic abuse and stalking. There is no age limit, and no socioeconomic, gender, racial or religious boundaries. Intimate partner violence exists everywhere.

If you suspect that someone you love – regardless of gender, gender identity or sexual orientation – is in an abusive relationship, here are 15 questions you should ask.
  1. Does your partner have a bad temper, lose their temper easily or act in an intimating manner?
  2. Are you afraid to go home or be alone with your partner?
  3. Is your partner jealous or possessive toward you?
  4. Has your partner ever locked you out or left you somewhere?
  5. Does your partner make you feel guilty for spending time with family and friends?
  6. Are you denied access to money, or have you been put on an allowance?
  7. Does your partner check up on you, limit your activities or accuse you of having an affair?
  8. Do you make excuses for your partner’s behavior or lie about the abuse?
  9. Does your partner threaten to harm you, your children or your pets?
  10. Does your partner disrespect, criticize, embarrass or harass you in front of other people?
  11. Do you feel that you can’t say no to unwanted sexual activity?
  12. Do you feel alone, socially isolated, helpless, trapped or emotionally numb?
  13. Does your partner control you, make decisions for you, or make it seem like you can’t say no?
  14. Does your partner threaten to take away your children if you leave or tell anyone about the abuse?
  15. Does your partner blame the mistreatment on stress, money problems, drugs or alcohol, or you “pushing their buttons”?

If the answer to one or more of these questions is yes, then your loved one may be in an abusive relationship. There are local and national resources available:
  • Family Abuse Services of Alamance County: 336-226-5982
  • Family Services of the Piedmont (Guilford County): 336-273-7273
  • HELP Inc. Center Against Violence (Rockingham County): 336-342-3332
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233

About the Author

Hope Rife, Licensed Social Worker

Hope Rife, ACSW, LCSW, is a licensed social worker and director of the Cone Health Clinical Social Work Department

3 Signs You May Be Dangerously Overheated

3 Signs You May Be Dangerously Overheated
Heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke, occur when your body is unable to cool itself and are especially prevalent during the hot, summer months.

  • Heat cramps are painful contractions, commonly felt in the calves, thighs or shoulders, that occur as the body loses salt and water from exercise.
  • Heat exhaustion is a precursor to heat stroke and is brought on by a loss of water and electrolytes. The body will begin to sweat excessively and the core body temperature will elevate to more than 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but less than 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Heatstroke occurs when the core body temperature is elevated to more than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. The body may stop sweating or sweat less and confusion or an altered mental status may occur.
Because heat-related illness can be very serious, and in some instances, lead to death; it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with these illnesses.

  • Symptoms of heat cramps are painful contractions.
  • Symptoms of heat exhaustion often include nausea, headache, fatigue and/or weakness, irritability, dizziness, confusion, thirst or signs of dehydration like a darkening of the urine.
  • Heatstroke often presents with symptoms of heat exhaustion, like a headache, confusion, and weakness, accompanied by an altered mental status.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to call 911 right away to get quick medical attention. To treat heat cramps and heat exhaustion, medical professionals will remove the individual from the heat, give them fluids with electrolytes and cool the body by spraying it with water and using a fan. To treat heat stroke, they will immediately remove the person from heat and start applying active cooling measures such as cold-water immersion, ice packs to the groin, administer IV fluids and check their breathing and circulation.

Fortunately, these are preventable illnesses. During the summer heat, stay out of the sun, keep hydrated, watch for dark urine, avoid constrictive clothing and avoid alcoholic beverages. If you suspect someone to be experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke, the primary response should be to get them cooled-off promptly and call 911. Individuals who have experienced symptoms of heat exhaustion and/or heat stroke should always be evaluated by a medical professional to establish proper treatment needs and whether it is safe to return to normal activity.


About the Author