June 25th, 2015

5 tips to defend your skin against summer

5 ways to protect your skin from the sun

Don’t let the warm weather lull you (or your good sense) to sleep. Beware the sun.

Summer is upon us, and for all its glory the season makes a number of things perilously difficult. Getting a good tee time, for one. Booking a week’s vacation basically anywhere. And, yes, confronting ourselves before a full-length mirror, in our bathing suits.

What summer doesn’t need to be is an affront to your skin. Whether young or old, you should follow a few simple rules to ensure that the summers ahead of you and your skin are many.

  1. With sunscreen, the more acronyms the better. SPF indicates only the level of protection from UVB rays. Make sure to find a sunscreen with UVA protection as well, and go for an SPF of 30 or higher.
  2. Use lots of it, and often. An adult needs approximately 2-3 tablespoons to cover the whole body (the size of a golf ball)—and another teaspoon for the face. Reapply every two hours, as sweat, water and other factors can diminish its effectiveness. And don’t forget ears, nose, lips, hairline and feet!
  3. Kids aren’t simply tiny adults. Children have specific needs when it comes to their skin, which is extremely sensitive. Choose a delicate sunscreen made specifically for kids. Also, be nice. Spray aerosol sunscreens onto your hands first, then rub it on their face. (The other way around is certain to produce tantrums.)
  4. Stay safe by hitting the bottle. It’s not advice you hear often, since it applies strictly to suntanning. Basically, the safest tan is one you can spray on. Whether you’re looking for a hint of colour or to be festooned in Olympic bronze, you’ll find a cream, gel, or spray to suit your needs. Two caveats: 1) Obviously, a fake tan provides no protection from the real sun. And 2) Wash your hands vigorously after application.
  5. Aftercare is as vital as pre-care. Sun and ocean water can dry out the skin and leave it begging for moisture. Make sure to apply a layer of rich lotion or oil after you shower—and always wash sunscreen off at the end of the day.

January 17th, 2015

Acne – Controlling breakouts


Controlling breakouts

acneAffecting as many as fve million Canadians, more people see a doctor for acne than any other skin condition. While it is true that teenagers are the age group most affected by the condition, people of all ages experience acne. In fact, roughly 85 per cent of the population will suffer from acne breakouts at some point in their lives.

At this time of year, though, teenagers are the most likely group to be thinking about acne. The stress associated with the new school year, making new friends, and so on can play havoc with the skin, causing breakouts when they are least wanted. Here, we share some tips on controlling acne breakouts. READ MORE

October 4th, 2013

Bug bites and diseases

Here’s a trade secret that may get me kicked out my doctors’ golfing club (which wouldn’t bother me much, to be honest, because frankly, I hate golf): very often, when we see what looks like a bite on someone during the summer, we tell them it’s a spider bite, which generally satisfies the patient who nearly always says, “You know, that’s just what I thought, too.”

Trouble is: spiders rarely bite, especially in Canada, so a “spider bite” is much more likely to be a result of the bite of another bug, such as a flea, for example.

In fact, according to one expert, Chris Buddle, an arachnologist – that’s a guy who studies spiders – at McGill University, spiders don’t want to bite you because like me at most parties, they’d really much rather avoid contact with humans.

September 24th, 2013


Psoriasis is a skin condition that affects many Canadians.  Dry, itchy and sore skin accompanied with flare-ups of painful scales occurs with this condition. It might be good to know that there are many prescription treatments available.
In today’s post, I would like to highlight some skin care recommendations for people with psoriasis.


  • Although scratching seems like the reaction to irritated skin, it can lead to open sores and possibly infection


  • So easy, yet so effective!
  • Reduces itchiness, dryness, redness and soreness and scaling
  • Helps skin heal after a flare up
  • Choose products that are fragrance-free


September 18th, 2013

Poison Ivy And Hiking


My favourite pastime – by the proverbial country mile – is hiking.

In fact, the week after this item gets published, Phyllis (the woman who has tolerated me for over 44 years mostly because, she says, I make her laugh a lot – at me, not with me, but hey! Whatever works, right?) and I are off for a 9-day hike in the UK.

And in case you’re wondering why I love hiking so much, especially in the UK and France, the answer is simple: the 2 large ciders (in the UK) or the 2 large glasses of wine (in France, bien sur) that I am allowed to have every afternoon as we finally make it into our destination for that day.

The hiking is OK, but the cider and wine? Priceless.

Anyway, that aside, hiking also carries certain obvious risks, most of which I have run into over the years – sprains, strains, scrapes, blisters, rashes, and even the one I want to mention today, poison ivy, which I experienced once because of a side trip I had to make into the bushes (do not try to imagine this).

“Poison ivy” is a rash caused by sensitivity to an oily resin in the poison ivy plant (but also in poison oak and poison sumac).

July 28th, 2013

Sun Protection


I love the sun. I just wish we got to see more of it here near the coast in British Columbia where I live, but the trade-off is that we also don’t get to shovel much white stuff in the winter so I guess that’s a pretty good deal.

But back to the sun: I love the sun because it just makes me – and I’m sure most of you, too – feel better both psychologically and physically when it’s out than when it’s not.

Not only that, but adequate sun exposure is also the best source of that vital and life-sustaining element, Vitamin D.

But unfortunately, as with everything in life, there’s no free lunch with the sun either so although some sun exposure is good, even mandatory to maintain healthy Vitamin D blood levels, a lot of sun exposure is not good because it raises the risk of skin cancer, and unfortunately, the number of diagnoses of skin cancer has been going up quite significantly, even in young people.

So, it’s never a bad idea to remind everyone of the pretty simple rules to avoid excess sun exposure in the summer, and this is, of course, an especially important reminder for parents, since there is a direct line between the rate of malignant melanomas later in life, the most severe form of skin cancer, and the number of bad sunburns in childhood.

So, here are my recommendations:

  1. Try to avoid direct sun exposure when the sun is at its hottest, somewhere from 10 AM to 3 PM.
  2. If you do go out, cover as much of your skin as you can with sun-blocking garments.
  3. Always wear a floppy hat that protects your ears and as much of your nose as possible (even if like me, you look totally geeky in a hat).
  4. And finally, when going out, slap on lots of a potent sunscreen, and keep reapplying it regularly if you stay outside.

July 16th, 2013

Be aware in the Sun


A couple of years ago, my wife and I went hiking in the summer around Toulouse in the south of France. My wife hikes because she absolutely loves hiking, and I do it because I love her and besides, there’s my nightly reward of at least one glass of wine – more if I can sneak it in – at the invariable pub or café we visit after the day’s hiking.

Usually, we pass – or are passed – by many other hikers but not on this hike. Over five pretty long and very hot days (the temperature was at least 33 degrees centigrade every day), we passed only one other couple. So when we got to our B&B that night, and I was nursing my glass of wine, I said to the owner, “I guess French people don’t enjoy hiking so much.”

He shrugged (the French shrug before they say anything at all, often even when they say nothing) and said, “Mais, oui, we French love hiking, but we’re smart enough to do it when it’s not so hot. You can get very sick when it’s so hot.” And he shrugged again, and went off.

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