Sunscreen – what you need to know……..

Article contributed by:
Dr Ch’ng Chin Chwen
Consultant Dermatologist
Subang Jaya Medical Centre

1. Why is applying sunscreen important?

Sunscreen is the most important skincare product. If you can only afford one skincare product, choose a good sunscreen. Sunscreen protects our skin from harmful sun rays and reduces skin cancer risk. It reduces the flare-up of most skin problems from acne, eczema to rosacea. Not to mention when skin damage is reduced, we are reducing pigmentation, wrinkles and skin sagging.

2. Do I still have to apply sunscreen while indoors?

Yes, particularly if you have large windows or indoor fluorescent lighting.

3. How to choose the right sunscreen?

  • Go for broad-spectrum protection with high protection value, water-resistant/ sweat resistant.
  • Consider sunscreen with added antioxidants.
  • Consider tinted sunscreen.
  • Pick a texture that is comfortable for you.
  • If you have acne-prone skin, go for non-comedogenic formula.
  • If you have sensitive skin, go for a physical sunscreen (mineral sunscreen) which is fragrance and alcohol-free.
  • If you swim or are wearing sunscreen doing strenuous activities involving profuse sweating, go for chemical sunscreen.

4. What is a physical sunscreen?

Physical sunscreen is also known as mineral sunscreen. It sits on the skin surface to reflect the sun rays that reach the skin surface. Examples of ingredients that make up physical sunscreen are zinc oxide, titanium oxide, and iron oxide. This is opposed to a chemical sunscreen that absorbs into the skin and absorbs sun rays. Examples of chemical ingredients include oxtinoxate and oxybenzone.

5. Is physical sunscreen better than chemical sunscreen?

Both have their pros and cons. Physical sunscreen is less irritating and more suitable for sensitive skin, pregnant women and children. However, it can feel heavy and leave a white cast. Chemical sunscreen may not be suitable for people with sensitive skin but it is sweat and water-resistant. As it quickly absorbs into the skin, it feels light and often more pleasant. Many sunscreens in the market have a mixture of both physical and chemical ingredients.

6. Is sunscreen with a biodegradable formula good?

While we want products that are good for our skin, we must also choose products that are good for our environment as well. This is particularly important for eco-conscious people who love mother nature, for example, those who go scuba diving and jungle trek very often.

7. How to apply sunscreen correctly?

Apply sunscreen in the morning, reapply, re-apply and re-apply. Layer on and do not wash your face in-between applications. We can’t apply too much sunscreen because it breakdown continuously and we rub it off whenever we touch our skin.

To print a pdf copy, click HERE

 

Menopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT)

Menopause is the permanent cessation of menstruation. It can occur as early as age 40 or as late as nearly age 60s. The average age of menopause is usually about 49 to 51. It is normally diagnosed in females after 1 year of absent menstrual flow. Menopause does not occur suddenly. It is a slow transition and peri-menopause usually begins a few years before the last menstrual period. Menopause is only one event in the transition period involving changes in the female body between the mid or late 40’s, when the production of female hormones (estrogen and progesterone) begins to decline. Most of the signs and symptoms of menopause arise from this decrease in estrogen production. Therefore, MHT (referring to both the EPT and ET) is often given to women who have significant symptoms that have an impact on their daily activities.

Read moreMenopausal Hormone Therapy (MHT)

Contraception – Male condom

The main purpose of contraception (or birth control) is to prevent an unplanned pregnancy. You should know and understand the different types of methods available to you, the risks and benefits of each, and any possible side effects, so that both you and your partner can able to make an informed choice. Contraception can be broadly divided into:

  1. Temporary or permanent methods – permanent birth control is accomplished through sterilization (tying or removal of the fallopian tubes) or hysterectomy (removal of womb / uterus). The rest of the methods are classified as temporary or reversible.
  2. Short term or long-term methods – short term methods are condoms and oral pills. Long term methods are injectables, intrauterine device and hormonal implants.

Read moreContraception – Male condom

First visit to the gynaecologist – what you should know

Health screening as a person ages is especially important. It should be your top priority even if you are healthy. In women, this will include a visit to the gynaecologist’s clinic and will help in identifying if the woman has increased risks for developing a disease or already has the disease or condition that was not previously known about. Early identification of risks factors can help in counselling and instituting remedial or preventive measures to reduce that risk. This may in fact help to prevent the disease from occurring. Likewise, early detection of disease and starting treatment as soon as possible will results in a better outcome and lower the risks of complications. For example, many women with ovarian cancer do not have symptoms until it is too late. However, prompt diagnosis at an early stage of ovarian cancer will give excellent outcome with surgery alone and may not even need chemotherapy at all.
Many women feel nervous or even afraid to see the gynaecologist, especially if it is their first visit. Seeing a gynaecologist is just like seeing any other doctor in other specialities such as your dentist or general practitioner. They are there to help you and you should take this as an opportunity to seek their help in taking care of your health.

Read moreFirst visit to the gynaecologist – what you should know

Bone mineral density testing (BMD)

This test is done to measure the density of bones and this is able to predict the risk of fractures. Bone density decreases in both men and women with age, but in women, the decrease is more rapid and more severe following menopause when the ovaries stop producing the oestrogen hormone. BMD testing can show whether there is significant bone loss, resulting in low bone mass. This is a major cause of osteoporosis and of bone fractures (partic­ularly the hip, spine or forearm) in men and women over the age of 40.

Osteoporosis is a reduction in the amount of bone mass resulting in the loss of bone strength. This will predispose it to fracture. Osteopenia refers to a decrease in bone mineral density and is less severe form compared to osteoporosis. Eventually, it is likely to lead to osteoporosis if no treatment is given.

Read moreBone mineral density testing (BMD)

Vulvovaginal candidiasis (Vaginal yeast infection)

Vulvovaginal candidiasis is an infection of the vagina caused by a yeast-like fungus (usually Candida albicans). It is one of the commonest causes of vaginitis (inflammation of the vagina). An estimated 75 percent of all women will develop a yeast infection during their lifetime. Vaginal candidiasis infections are very common in pregnancy due to the increased levels of circulating oestrogen in the bloodstream.

CAUSES

The fungus Candida lives in small numbers in a healthy vagina, rectum and mouth without causing problems. When the vagina’s hormone and pH balance is disturbed, the organisms multiply and cause infections.

Read moreVulvovaginal candidiasis (Vaginal yeast infection)