4 Ways to Stop Itchy Skin

businessman with an itchy arm

Itching may seem like nature’s way of driving you mad, but the sensation was actually designed to keep you safe. The urge is just your skin demanding attention to help protect it from an offender of some kind, like microbes or insects. It can start with a physical stimulus like a wool sweater that brushes against sensitive skin, or an internal stimulus like the release of histamine during an allergic reaction. It can even begin in your mind; seeing someone else scratching can make you feel itchy too!


Step into Spring With the Right Footwear

colorful flat shoes collection isolated on white.As spring makes its long awaited arrival, we can finally start drifting away from winter’s heavy boots and start shifting to lightweight spring footwear. Recently, I was asked about what shoes women should wear during their daily commutes to work. The ballet slipper or a low heeled shoe? Here are some of the differences associated with the two choices.

Can a ballet flat cause damage? Personally, I love my ballet flats. However, ballet slippers may not be the best choice. Because ballet slippers lack in support, they can cause conditions such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendinitis. Over time, this may lead to compensation that may put stress on our ankles, knees, hips, and eventually, the back and spine.

Since the arch is usually not protected in a ballet flat, there is more stress on the foot. Pronation may be exaggerated and the gait cycle may be altered. Long term, this causes more stress on all the other body joints, and can lead to fatigue, muscle imbalances, and issues with proper alignment. Also ballet flats can be very thin, so sharp objects piercing through could be a hazard.

Why might a low heeled shoe be better? A low heeled shoe can help take the stress from the arch and reduce overall stress on the foot and the Achilles tendon. Also usually they have more rigidity and some have arch support which may further provide for better stability.

When seeking out a low heel, optimal height is less than 1.5 inches. A wider heel is better than a very narrow one. Low heel wedges are better since there is more surface area with the ground. Rubber soles obviously can give you a better grip on the ground and minimize slipping.

If a woman chooses to wear ballet flats, an added insole with arch support may help. I like custom-molded versus over-the-counter, since they are specifically tailored for each individual’s foot type and can help correct for abnormal gait patterns. Also ballet flats are better if worn for short periods of time. Strengthening and stretching is also recommended to build up the foot muscles.

I also recommend switching shoes whenever possible. Remember, however, the correct shoe is the one that fits properly. So step out this spring, get a proper foot measurement and make sure the shoe you choose is the right one.

The content provided on this blog by Dr. Pruthi is for general informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional health-care provider.

Spring Awakening

beautiful girl enjoying the summer sun

As the weather changes, it’s time for spring cleaning. It’s time to purge, to do a complete overhaul. It’s time to clean out and refresh your home, your routine, your life. Spring cleaning isn’t just about cleaning the closets. It’s also about taking inventory, about looking at your life and considering how you might rejuvenate, replenish and reinvigorate yourself. It has been a long winter, and now that spring is finally here, I encourage you to take a long hard look in the mirror. Are there changes you want to make, post-hibernation? If there are, you can make them. This is the time. It will take effort and a deliberate intention, but it’s spring! Don’t you feel like you could do anything, as long as you don’t have to shovel any more snow or slog to work in your big boots any longer?


DIY Tips to Groom Your Brows Like a Pro

young attractive woman correcting eyebrow over blue background

Brows seem so innocent, but good grooming can instantly transform your face, making your eyes look younger and more awake. But if you’re going to shape your brows at home, be sure to take it slow and really think about what you’re doing. Over-plucking can lead to too-thin brows, which ages the face, since brows tend to naturally thin with age. This is why full brows are associated with youth and health. Try these tips and tricks straight from the pros to get brows that really fit your face. 

Getting Trim
To start, brush your brows up in the direction the hair grows. Using brow scissors, cut just the tips of the longer hairs. Make sure to trim in the direction of the hair growth, brushing through while trimming. Remember: Less is more. You can always cut more later. Read more  »

3 Mistakes Not To Make When You Sign Up for Obamacare

Business woman working at the office

First the worry was IF you’d be able to sign up for coverage at the flawed healthcare.gov. Now your concern should be HOW you sign up. Yes, after many red faces and delayed deadlines, the Obama administration was able to announce that the system met its goal of getting 7 million new people to sign up.

That may well encourage more people to give it a whirl during future enrollment periods – and if you do – I want you to sidestep common blunders that can be a pain in the neck when you’re trying to go see a doctor about the… pain in your neck.

I asked the IIABA – Association of Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America – for advice on choosing well. Independent agents help clients choose among lots of different insurance companies, so they’re accustomed to comparing and contrasting different plans.

“All the recent focus has been on the difficulties in signing up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act,” said Bob Rusbuldt, President and CEO of IIABA. “But the even harder part is trying to sign up for the right coverage.” Here are the top three mistakes according to the in-the-trenches experts at the IIABA.

1. Not understanding your deductible. Affordable Care Act bronze plans can have as much as a $5,000 deductible. That’s the amount you have to pay out of pocket before the plan starts paying for your care. Usually a higher deductible means lower monthly premiums, so if you use very little healthcare and coming up with $5,000 is not a hardship for you, then this could be a good choice. But if you know you need lots of care and/or you have cash flow problems, then a plan with a lower deductible might be better for you. The IIABA says, “consider a silver plan instead. It may seem more expensive on the surface, but once the out-of-pocket expenses are factored in, it may be a better deal for you.”

2. Not looking beyond deductibles and co-pays. It’s important to consider other factors beyond just cost when you choose your Affordable Care Act plan. In some instances, insurance companies were able to create lower cost healthcare programs by excluding some hospital systems you might like or prescriptions that you take. “Look beyond the top line numbers and see if your doc and hospital are participating, or you might be in for a surprise,” said Rusbuldt.

3. Not following up or confirming. There have been many reports of “back end” issues for enrollments through the exchanges, where the insurers are receiving incomplete, duplicate and/or corrupted files from the government sites. Worst-case scenario, you could have a health problem, think you’re covered, but then find out you’re not when you go to the doctor or pharmacy. Close the loop and confirm your coverage before you have a problem.

If you’re uncertain about making the right choices when you sign up for one of the new healthcare plans, expert help is available. Local communities have trained thousands of people to guide folks through the process, and you can access their assistance here.

You can also consult an insurance agent – look for one who has been certified for the healthcare Marketplace – to help you not only choose a plan but also look for any assistance that may be available to you in paying for that plan. Your insurance premiums will be the same whether you get an agent’s help or not, so it’s a win-win.

Curb Hunger With These 3 Protein-Packed Breakfasts

Heart fried eggs

Does your breakfast pass the protein test? Here’s why you should check: Researchers are increasingly zeroing in on protein’s ability to keep hunger at bay when compared to lower-protein breakfasts that have similar calories, fat and fiber. And it seems that protein’s benefits can last well into the day, reducing our urge to snack sugary or fatty foods later in the evening. But how to get there with nutrient-rich, healthy foods that you aren’t already tired of eating? Here are three bold breakfast ideas, each of which packs at least 20 grams of protein to shake up your routine deliciously. Read more  »

Don’t Ask, Demand an Oral Cancer Exam

healthy teeth

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month. According to the Oral Cancer Foundation, roughly 43,200 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer in 2014, and it will kill over 8,000 persons already diagnosed. If you do the math, that means at least one person per hour will die from oral cancer. This is one of the only cancers where the survival rates have not significantly improved in 30 years.

Early detection is critical for this disease, as studies link survival rate to stage at diagnosis. Oral cancer is often caught at a later stage and consequently has one of the lowest survival rates.

Oral cancer is about twice as common in men as in women. According to research, 75% of oral cancer cases are linked to alcohol and tobacco use, making lifestyle choices chief among essential preventive measures. Oral cancer caused by HPV transmitted via oral sex is on the rise, which puts those who may be considered young and healthy at risk. Awareness of these primary risk factors coupled with a healthy lifestyle (nutrition, exercise, safe sex) is the best way for you to take part in preventing oral cancer.

Routine oral cancer screenings are an important part of early detection, which we know is directly linked to survival rate, and should be part of your biannual dental visits. A thorough assessment involves examining inside the mouth, down the throat, inside the cheeks, under the tongue, and palpating the neck area for any possible swollen lymph nodes. Ideally, make sure the trained clinician is using the latest diagnostic technology, which involves the use of light to identify dysplastic changes in the mouth (the abnormal development of tissues, organs, or cells) early in development. The VELscope is an example of such tool and can highlight abnormalities inside of the mouth in as little as two minutes.

Don’t ask, demand an oral cancer examination every time you visit the dentist! Surveys tell us only 15% of U.S. adults report ever having an oral cancer examination, and it’s up to you to bring this statistic closer to 100%.

What Really Works on Blackheads?

examination of the skin

We’ve all experienced them at one point in our lives, and for some of us it’s an everyday battle. A blackhead forms when dead skin cells and oil cling together to create a plug that clogs up a pore and the surface remains open. The key to getting rid of and preventing them is to break up the plugs. Try these four tips to dissolve blackheads and get clearer, smoother skin.  Read more  »

News from the 2014 American Academy of Dermatology Meeting

little boy applying sunscreen

I’m pleased to report from the American Academy of Dermatology annual meeting that took place from March 21 through March 25, in Denver, Colo. The annual “AAD” meeting is the largest dermatology meeting of the year with close to 10,000 dermatologists, skin care professionals and industry leaders in attendance to discuss and debate the latest in skin, hair and nail health. There were many new and exciting tools and products introduced to either maintain beautiful skin or help dermatologists return the skin to a healthy state. However, I was most excited about the following developments: