Moles are a very common skin growth and most of us have at least a few of them. In most cases they are nothing to worry about and we tend to forget we have them. Unfortunately, moles can also be a sign of skin cancer or pre-cancer. Whereas most are harmless, if you notice any changes in a mole, or develop a new one that looks different to the rest, it could be something you need to speak to a skin clinic or a doctor about. It may well be nothing to be concerned about but with moles it pays to be vigilant. Existing moles can suddenly grow, develop hairs where there were none, change color or fade. Most of us are still developing new moles into our forties! Some changes are nothing to worry about but others can be a sign that something isn’t right. Finding cancerous moles early on is absolutely key to treating skin cancer effectively. Don’t ever be worried about whether you’re wasting your doctor’s time by asking advice about a mole – they are happy to put your mind at rest and would much prefer you to come in needlessly than not come in until it’s too late. The early signs of a melanoma (a serious type of skin cancer) that you should get checked out include: Asymmetry. The mole looks uneven and one half doesn’t seem to match the other. Border unevenness. The outside edges of the mole are ragged or blurred. Color. If the mole isn’t the same color all over it could mean there’s something changing. It could be anything from tan, brown, and black or even red, white, and blue but if the colours are blotchy, it’s a warning sign. Diameter. If it’s larger than 6 mm (0.2 in.) across, or suddenly starts to grow, it’s something you need to get checked out. Evolution. Any noticeable changes in its size, shape, symptoms (itching or tenderness), surface (bleeding), or color. Keep an eye on your moles – or ask someone else to – and carry out a skin self-exam regularly to identify any suspicious skin growths. You need to be examining your moles monthly and if possible, visit a skin clinic for an expert to check them over once a year just to be safe. What to check for: Look at your skin, including the scalp, and any existing moles, freckles, skin tags or other skin growths to check for changes in color, shape, size, and appearance. If you’ve had any minor injuries, check the skin to see if it’s properly healed. If you notice a changing or suspicious skin growth, get your doctor to check it out right away. It might be easily removed and nothing to worry about (most growths are easily taken off) and this will stop it from growing and irritating the skin around it, getting caught on your clothes or even spreading to other areas of the body. Finding and treating skin cancer early can help prevent problems, so keep an eye on your skin lumps and bumps!
Stress. It’s hard to avoid its effects – and we’re all aware of how damaging it can be to both our mind and body if we let it build up for too long. But while we all know that it can affect us in many ways, our skin isn’t the first thing we think about when we consider the effects of a stressful lifestyle. Your face can be one of the areas that stress can really take a toll.
The Effects of Cortisol. Stress causes the body to make more of the hormone cortisol, and cortisol turns up production of oil in your sebaceous glands, which leads to clogged pores, breakouts and sometimes red, itchy patches on the cheeks and around the nose. If you’re dealing with long term, chronic stress, it can have a really damaging effect on your skin. Along with the pore-clogging effects, too much cortisol also damages your skin's ability to hold on to water, which can make it dehydrated and dull over time. So while you’re producing more oil and getting breakouts, under the surface your skin is thirsty and desperate for hydration. No wonder stress takes such a toll on your looks. So what can you do to counteract the effects of stress and a busy lifestyle?
Skincare for Stressed Skin. Looking after your skin when you’re feeling the strain is vital if you don’t want to reflect all that tension in the mirror. Treat yourself to kind, good quality skincare products, especially hypoallergenic and fragrance-free products that won’t irritate your delicate skin any more than it already has been. Simpler products with fewer, better quality ingredients should also have a lower pH which should help to calm down angry skin and sooth the dryness and inflammation. Be gentle when you cleanse your face; don’t be tempted to attack the breakouts or oily areas with harsh products to strip the oils away, you’ll only make it worse. If you wash with water, use lukewarm rather than hot to avoid stimulating oil production, and add a layer of soothing, hydrating moisturizer while your skin is damp as damp skin will trap moisture better. Another effect of high levels of cortisol is raised blood sugar, which damages collagen and elastin. Long term, you may lose some of your skin’s smoothness and plumpness, and when you combine this with the extra muscle tension that’s unavoidable when you get stressed, you start to get prone to wrinkles and lines. Nip these in the bud by investing in skincare products that contain antioxidants combined with retinol to encourage collagen production and keep skin looking and feeling firmer. It’s not always easy, but if you also learn to manage your stress levels, it will help more than just your skincare routine. Take some time out for yourself; enjoy a massage or a beauty treatment. Just an hour or so away from it all that’s just for you can really help to de-stress you and if you need to justify it, think of it as saving money on skincare products in the future!
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Plantar fasciitis, also known as plantar heel pain syndrome (PHPS), is a common problem that can really give you a lot of pain on the sole of your foot, making it hard to walk and even put your weight on your feet. It’s the most common cause of heel pain, and it happens when your plantar fascia – the flat band of tissue connecting your heel bone to your toes - gets weak or inflamed, making your heel or the bottom of your foot hurt to walk on.
Plantar fasciitis is most common in middle aged people, and often seen in younger people who are on their feet a lot. Some people find that the pain is worse when they wake up and it eases during the day as they walk on the affected foot. It can be a difficult to treat problem, doctors often try steroid injections to no avail, but experts are coming around to the idea that massage therapy and stretching can be more effective at treating the problem than steroid injections or possible surgery.
Studies into Massage Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis. Research carried out at an outpatient physical therapy clinic in Israel showed that massage was a promising treatment for plantar fasciitis. The researchers studied 69 people with the condition who had been referred to them by an orthopaedic surgeon. One group was given ultrasound treatment combined with stretches and the other was treated with massage therapy and stretches. All the patients were offered eight treatments over six weeks, although only 51 people completed the whole study. When the massage intervention was compared to ultrasound (which isn’t thought to be that effective in treating PHPS anyway) the researchers found that deep tissue massage on the calf muscles combined with stretching exercises was more likely improve the symptoms than a combination of ultrasound and stretching. Ten minutes of deep pressure massage to the posterior calf was all it took to see a difference in the patients in the study – that’s easy to fit into a massage session so if you’ve been suffering with it, don’t suffer in silence, speak to your therapist and ask her to add in some deep tissue massage to your regular routine. Plantar Fasciitis Stretches. To soothe the condition in the long term you’ll need to stretch the plantar fascia – so try pulling up on your foot and toes, then holding the stretch for about 30 seconds. Repeat this stretch five times and do the routine three times a day if you can. Calf muscle stretching has also been shown to be effective in managing PHPS - try a standing calf stretch with your affected foot furthest from the wall and one foot in front of the other. Lean forward keeping your heels on the floor until you feel the stretch in the back of your calf and Achilles tendon. Repeat five times, three times a day.