Posts Tagged health equity

Centering the Margins in Mental Health: Platforms You Should Follow

During July, we bring awareness to the mental health in BIPOC and marginalized communities of color. One research study points out how structural racism impacts the mental health of marginalized people of color. Dealing with institutional opproppressiona daily basis has an impact on marginalized communities’ mental health and our navigation of the world and resources. 

Not having resources readily available is another reason many mental illnesses go undiagnosed in communities of marginalized people of color. Below are statistics that outline why we need to center BIPOC and marginalized communities of color in mental health:

  • Adult Black/African Americans are 20 percent more likely to report severe psychological distress than adult whites.
  • 18.9% of Hispanic students in grades 9th–12th considered suicide, and 11.3% had attempted suicide. 
  • 10.8% of Asian American high school students say having attempted suicide as compared to 6.2% of white students. 
  • Less than 2% of mental health providers are Black.
  • Language differences between patients and providers, the stigma of mental illness in communities of color, and cultural presentation of symptoms can contribute to misdiagnoses.
  • Black children and adolescents who died by suicide were more likely than White youths to have experienced a crisis during the two weeks before they died.
  • American Indians/Alaskan Natives report higher post-traumatic stress disorder and alcohol dependence rates than any other ethnic or racial group.

The research continues to show how underserved our communities are, and for that, we have suffered. However, over the last few years, the rise of social media has allowed many mental health professionals and organizations to share resources for free, which has been an asset to many people. Here we have compiled a list of different platforms that give helpful information and resources online:

  1. Therapy For Black Girls
  2. Latinx Therapists Network
  3. NAMI
  4. Indigenous Circle of Wellness
  5. Nedra Glover Tawwab
  6. So’oh-Shinálí Sister Project
  7. Dr. Jennifer Mullan

Although none of these platforms absolve the need for a licensed therapist that can be seen regularly, it can help. Finding a therapist and getting daily overarching advice from a licensed professional. If someone requires a licensed therapist, please visit the HUED directory and search for a therapist in your area. Mental health is important, and we need more readily available resources to help the communities most impacted to have collective mental wellness.

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO 

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


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5 Stress Reliever Foods You Need In Your Kitchen

It goes without saying that life can get hectic, so we compiled a list of foods to help with stress relief. Yes, stress relief, if we remember in our previous article #HustleCulture Booked & Busy But What about Rest? We touched on the rising risk of stroke in young adults due to sleep deprivation and stress.

Making sure the foods you keep in your pantry provide you with the necessary nutrients is essential to keeping your stress levels low. Below is a list of 5 food items you should incorporate into your meals.

Banana: Bananas are a good source of dopamine, and one serving can give you 23% of the daily potassium you need. They also contain over 40% of the recommended daily dose of vitamin B6, making them a vitamin-friendly and stress-reducing gold mind! 

Yogurt: Most know that yogurt has natural probiotics that are good for the digestive system but did you know that it also helps with stress relief? The process of fermentation milk allows “good” bacteria to rise in yogurt.  Research is finding much stress causing hormones to rest in the gut, so eating foods that balance gut health are needed in our book!

Oatmeal: Oatmeal, one of the go-to breakfast items, is also on the list for stress-relieving foods. The high magnesium content helps satisfy hunger which allows high levels of serotonin to flow through the body.  

Dark Chocolate: We were happy to see chocolate on stress-relieving foods. Yes, dark chocolate is an item you do not have to take out of your kitchen. Instead, tell them HUED said to keep it because it has been proven a mood booster. One study observed high anxiety patients and found that 40g of daily serving over two weeks had a noticeable impact on their mood and gut health.

Tea: It is tea time! Tea is a beverage that is a proven stress reliever. Over six weeks, such as black and green teas have been proven to help reduce cardiovascular issues. Depression and anxiety are linked to cardiovascular problems positively impacted by team consumption.

Also, take this moment to contact your primary care provider (or find one) to set up an appointment to discuss more stress-relieving foods. Finally, look at the HUED directory that connects Black, Latinx, and Indigenous patients with culturally humble medical providers.

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Understanding HIV and How to Get Tested

The Center for Disease and Control defines HIV  (human immunodeficiency virus) as a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, and if left untreated, it can develop into AIDS. Individuals contracting HIV can live a long life, and will the correct medication, they can avoid transferring the illness to others. HIV is not curable and is a lifetime illness so understanding the history and prevention is essential 

The outbreak of HIV started in the United States in the early 1980s, and it was found to be passed through sex, blood donation, and sharing needles. However, researchers found HIV and AIDs had originated in West-Central Africa in monkeys and jumped from primate to human through cuts and wounds before the 1980s. In the past, the fear of HIV lead to misinformation and the ostracizing of individuals such as those in the LGBTQA+ community. This has caused violence and a lack of resources in marginalized Black, Latinx, and LGBTQA+ communities.

Today information is readily available to show everyone can be impacted by HIV, and those who are sexually active should test frequently. Numerous campaigns and research studies touch on ending the stigma associated with HIV that lingers throughout the years. Testing for HIV can be done during STD and STI testing, and it is recommended annually. However, depending on your sexual activity with new partners or frequency, sharing needles twice a year or three times a year can also be done.

The Center for Disease Control has a Get Tested database to help individuals find HIV testing sites in their community for low to no cost.  

The three types of HIV tests can be seen below:

  • Antibody tests to check for HIV antibodies in blood or oral fluid. 
  • Antigen/antibody tests can detect both HIV antibodies and HIV antigens in the blood.
  • NATs (very expensive and used for high-risk exposures)

Although we have medication and resources that can help individuals with HIV with low to no symptoms and flares, those resources are not readily available to everyone. In addition, marginalized Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and those within LGBTQA+ often live in communities that do not have adequate healthcare, insurance, or transportation. So the necessary medication and treatment that allow people to live longer lives with HIV are not readily available.

It is essential to ensure all communities have the necessary resources and information to have the required testing for HIV. Although anyone can be impacted, not everyone has the healthcare to navigate through HIV, which is a health disparity. Getting tested, advocating, and circulating accurate information is how we can stay informed about HIV. 

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO

Site content is provided for informational purposes and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Roe vs. Wade Was Overturned and What to Do Next

On June 24, 2022, the Supreme Court released its decision to overturn the federal protection of Roe v. Wade and allow states to set individual precedents. States have already set up trigger laws that immediately impact abortion accessibility for conditions, such as Arkansas and Louisiana. Centers and clinics had to cancel future appointments, which had significant emotional and mental effects on those working at clinics and patients.

Over the past few days, we have seen an outpour of political leaders, businesses, celebrities, and medical professionals sharing how this decision attacks healthcare. Below is an image to illustrate the 26 states that are certain or likely to have an abortion ban according to the Guttmacher Institute:

These bans include:
• Trigger bans
• 6-week bans
• 8-week bans
• Near-total bans

Many states plan not to give exceptions for sexual assault, incest, miscarriage, and ectopic pregnancy, which will lead to trauma and death. States leaning towards a near-total ban are even looking to take legal action against anyone who gets an abortion and those that assist (i.e., driving someone to the clinic). This decision attacks healthcare and will further create health disparities for marginalized Black, Latinx, and Indigenous individuals. Especially when the Supreme Court is looking to overturn laws that give access to contraceptives such as IUDs and Plan B.

Organizations such as Planned Parenthood, Plan C, and the Digital Defense Fund ensure we have the necessary information to access abortions and stay undetected by law enforcement. Below is an infographic that includes tips on how to keep hidden when looking for an abortion.

These tips include:
• Turning off location
• Deleting period tracking apps
• Clearing browser history
• Use Firefox focus instead of the default browser

For those looking to have a better understanding of their state’s new abortion laws and to access and donate to clinics, follow the links below:
• Understand access in your state
• Donate to abortion funds
• Independent Support Clinics
• Learn more and buy Abortion Pills
• Plan B: Learn more at Planned Parenthood

For decades we have been able to access abortions and contraceptives, and now the rights of millions are being taken. The following steps are to learn what is happening in your state, share as much information as possible, and vote. During this time, it is also important to rest and recenter as this decision can be overwhelming and disheartening for many.
Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO
Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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What is Vitiligo? Cause, Frequency, and treatment for patients – a guide on treatment and expert tips by a dermatologist

Vitiligo is a common skin condition where areas of skin tend to lose their color (or depigment) due to the destruction of the pigment-producing cells (melanocytes). Any skin area can become affected, but the most common areas include the face (including the eyes, nose, and mouth), hands, elbows, knees, ankles, and groin, as well as areas of injury or friction. In addition, many skin disorders can lead to pigment changes on the skin. A board-certified dermatologist can help diagnose vitiligo in the office through a physical examination, history taking, and tools such as a Wood’s lamp.

What causes vitiligo to occur?

While the exact cause of vitiligo has been debated, we know that multiple environmental and genetic factors can play a role in the condition. Vitiligo is considered an autoimmune skin disorder, which means the body’s immune system destroys melanocytes. In addition, some people have an increased risk of autoimmune thyroid diseases that can lead to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.

Who does vitiligo affect?

Vitiligo affects all ages, genders, and ethnicities. Because the condition creates areas of deep pigmentation, this can appear more prominent on those with darker skin and can be challenging to identify in those with lighter skin. Some forms of vitiligo are more common in African descent. While the condition may start rapidly in some and it can vary person-to-person.

What are skin care considerations for those with vitiligo?

The importance of sun protection in those with vitiligo cannot be overstated. Using a broad spectrum, SPF 30 or higher sunscreen can limit sunburn risk, especially in depigmented areas that are most vulnerable. Sunscreen also has an additional role in preventing natural skin tanning, which, if it occurs, can make areas of vitiligo more prominent in appearance. Other sun protective behaviors are essential, such as avoiding peak hours of sun exposure, avoiding tanning beds, wearing a broad-brimmed hat, sunglasses, sun protective clothing, and seeking shade. 

What are the treatment options for those with vitiligo?

The most crucial step in treatment is obtaining the correct diagnosis with a board-certified dermatologist. With treatment, many patients can experience stabilizing their pigment loss and better quality of life. Once stable, therapies are available to assist in repigmenting the skin; however, results can be variable. Medical therapy using topical anti-inflammatory creams (such as topical steroids and calcineurin inhibitors), light therapy, and oral/injectable medications can help decrease the condition’s impact. Emerging surgical options also exist to treat the condition. In advanced cases, depigmentation may be offered by your physician. Cosmetic camouflage products are available at all stages if those affected desire coverage. It’s essential to understand all the available treatment options and work closely with your physician to choose a treatment plan that is best for you.

  1. Alikhan A, Felsten LM, Daly M, Petronic-Rosic V. Vitiligo: a comprehensive overview Part I. Introduction, epidemiology, quality of life, diagnosis, differential diagnosis, associations, histopathology, etiology, and work-up. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2011;65(3):473-91.
  2. Grimes PE. Vitiligo. In: Taylor S, Kelly AP, Lim H, Serrano AM. Taylor and Kelly’s Dermatology for Skin of Color. 2nd ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education; 2016.
  3. Felsten LM, Alikhan A, Petronic-Rosic V. Vitiligo: a comprehensive overview Part II: treatment options and approach to treatment. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2011;65(3):493-514.

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Identifying Alzheimer’s and the Importance of Asking for Help

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that affects memory, thinking, and behavior. Symptoms eventually grow severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.” Alzheimer’s accounts for 60-80% of dementia, and it impacts people around 65 years of age and older. Alzheimer’s impacts memory skills, communication, and ability to carry out is estimated to set in years before when symptoms develop. 

The symptoms of Alzheimer’s can be overwhelming to navigate especially if you are caring for a loved one. Below are the top ten signs of Alzheimer’s outlined by the Alzheimer’s Association.

Top Symptoms:

  1. Memory loss hinders your day-to-day activities and daily life.
  2. Cant problem solve and can experience troubles with numbers.
  3. Trouble completing and remembering daily tasks (i.e., morning routine).
  4. Losing track of dates. 
  5. Trouble conceptualizing illustrations.
  6. Trouble with conversations.
  7. Misplacing everyday items.
  8. Poor judgment. 
  9. Withdrawing from activities and social settings. 
  10. Mood can become more suspicious, anxious, and depressed. 

If any of these conditions start to rise, it is essential to talk to a medical professional immediately. Alzheimer’s can impact an individual an estimated 10 years before any of the above conditions surfacing. Some can confuse these symptoms with aging, but being aware of the impacted day-to-day activities is key. Alzheimer’s can be divided into mild, moderate, and severe care, with the highest level needing assistance with living and care.

At this time, Alzheimer’s does not have a cure, but some practices can help manage the condition and keep the individual safe and comfortable. Below is a list of daily routines that can help with both the physical and mental strain of Alzheimer’s from the National Institute of Aging.

Tips for Caring For Alzheimers:

  1. Create a daily routine. Something that takes a few steps and is repetitive.
  2. Try using music and dance as a calming and soothing tools.
  3. Encourage and affirm that you are there to help them.
  4. Try not to argue or internalize the frustration.
  5. If possible, provide space for them to walk.

Bringing in a healthcare professional can be beneficial to both the individual with Alzheimer’s and the caregiver. In severe cases, someone may experience spurts of anger and hallucinations, which can make working with them frustrating and overwhelming. In addition, talking to a professional about assisted living programs can be beneficial to alleviate some of the caretaking off of family and friends.

Caring for someone with Alzheimer’s can require constant learning and navigation. However, with research and professional assistance, one can not take on the heavy load of managing alone.

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Our History With Sickle Cell: Why We Have It and How to Navigate 

Sickle Cell Disease is an inherited red blood cell disorder in which the red blood cells have a C-sharp called a “Sickle” and become hard and sticky. The shape of the blood cells can create clogs and stop blood flow, and they die early, which causes a shortage of red blood cells in the body, according to research.

According to the American Society of Hematology, about 8 to 10 percent of African-Americans have an inherited sickle cell trait. The Sickle Cell trait is more prevalent in African-Americans than in any other group due to our ancestral need for different blood cells. One research study, Malaria and Early African Development: Evidence from the Sickle Cell Trait, found sickle cell shows our connection to our African ancestors since those with sickle cell disease are less impacted by malaria. Another study found that African-Americans will sickle cell have more of a genetic connection to those from the Yoruban, Mandenka, and Bantu populations.

There are different forms of sickle cell disease, depending on parents’ genetically inherited codes. The more common types are HbSS, HbSC, and HbS beta thalassemia. These codes are determined at birth with abnormal hemoglobin.

According to the CDC, the diagnosis of sickle cell can be made while the baby is still in the womb or during a newborn baby’s routine bloodwork. The earlier sickle cell diagnosis, the sooner families can understand the impact and symptoms and navigate treatment and proper medical care. Those with sickle cell can experience the following:

Sickle Cell complications:

  • Acute Chest Syndrome Includes cough, chest pain, and symptoms that can mirror pneumonia.
  • Anemia: Not enough red blood cells can cause fatigue, irritability, and delayed puberty.
  • Kidney Problems: Bedwetting, blood in urine, and high blood pressure.
  • Organ damage: Irregular heartbeat, swelling of hands and feet, yellowing the skin, organ failure.
  • Pulmonary Hypertension: Lightheaded, dizziness, fatigue, difficulty breathing.

Knowing what can happen will help manage a sickle cell crisis that can cause throbbing, stabbing, or severe pain. Below are ways that researchers believe can lower the odds of a crisis.

  • Stay hydrated 
  • Avoid cold weather and swimming in cold water 
  • Manage stress 
  • Limit smoking and alcohol 
  • Keep up with other health concerns and medical appointments. 

Having a medical provider and support team that can help advocate for good care and support in the needed way is essential. Navigating sickle cell can be overwhelming when physical pain and mental stress start weighing on an individual. We encourage everyone to look into the HUED directory if a medical provider is needed and get a formal sickle cell diagnosis as soon as possible.  

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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What’s Your Type? Why You Need to Know Your Blood Type

In recent years dozens of vitamin and news stations have done public surveys and found that at least 1 in 3 of their American survey pool does not know their blood type. Although individual blood type should be kept top of mind, many only find out when it is for a medical emergency or blood transfusion. So before you even continue reading, let this be the sign to talk to your doctor about your blood type.

Now, let us move into why you need to know your blood type and the different blood types. Below is a graph that explains the different blood types and which blood types are a match if blood is needed.

Four blood types: O, A, B, AB

O- Blood Type: Can receive O- (Can give to Everyone)

O+ Blood Type: Can receive O- and +O (Can give to O+, A+, B+, AB)

A- Blood Type: Can receive A-, O- (Can give A+, A-, AB+, AB-)

A+ Blood Type: Can receive A+, A-, O+, O- (Can give A+, AB+)

B- Blood Type: Can receive B-, O- (Can give B+, B-, AB+, AB-)

B+ Blood Type: Can receive B+, B-, O+, O- (Can give B+, AB+)

AB- Blood Type: Can receive A-, B-, AB-, O- (Can give AB+, AB-)

AB+ Blood Type: Can receive Everyone (Can give AB+)

When it comes to donating blood, knowing your blood type can be helpful in knowing who can receive your blood. Knowing your blood type and your immediate family can be life-saving if an emergency happens and a transfusion is needed. Knowing your blood type can also help when it comes to monitoring certain diseases that may be higher for certain blood types. For example, one study by the Harvard School of Public Health study found that heart disease may be linked to certain blood types such as A, B, and AB. Understanding your blood type is necessary to understanding your overall health and something that should be asked at your next appointment.

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Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.


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Understanding PTSD and Book Recommendations For Your Mental Health

According to research by the National Center for PTSD, 12 million adults in the U.S. have PTSD during a given year, and this number is a small portion of those who received an official diagnosis. The National Institute of Mental Health defines PTSD as a disorder that develops in some people after a shocking, dangerous, or traumatic event. Post-traumatic stress disorder is the chronic long-term effect of an incident and many times happens in conjunction with depression and anxiety. Below is a list of symptoms by the Stay Safe Foundation and more information on the causes of PTSD.

Symptoms of PTSD:

  • Involuntary and intrusive distressing memories can include flashbacks of the trauma, bad dreams, and intrusive thoughts.
  • Avoidance can include staying away from specific places or objects that are reminders of the traumatic event. For example, a person might actively avoid a place or person that might activate overwhelming symptoms.
  • Cognitive and mood symptoms can include trouble recalling the event and negative thoughts about oneself. 
  • Arousal symptoms, such as hypervigilance. Examples might include being intensely startled by stimuli that resemble the trauma, trouble sleeping, or outbursts of anger.

According to the National Center for PTSD, about 7 or 8 out of every 100 people will experience PTSD at some point in their lives, “women are more likely to experience sexual assault and child sexual abuse. Men are more likely to experience accidents, physical assault, combat, disaster, or to witness death or injury.” Specific populations also can experience more trauma leading to PTSD, such as individuals who serve in our military.

Seeking a mental health professional for a diagnosis and care plan is one of the best ways to navigate living with PTSD. However, navigating managing PTSD and healing by reading and researching while seeing a professional is a great approach. Below are five books that center on mental health and PTSD that are very informative and can help dive deeper into your mental health.

  1. The Body is Not an Apology 

By: Sonya Renee Taylor

The Body Is Not an Apology offers radical self-love as the balm to heal the wounds inflicted by these violent systems. World-renowned activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength. As we awaken to our own indoctrinated body shame, we feel inspired to awaken others and to interrupt the systems that perpetuate body shame and oppression against all bodies. When we act from this truth on a global scale, we usher in the transformative opportunity of radical self-love, which is the opportunity for a more just, equitable, and compassionate world–for us all.

  1. The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in Healing of Trauma 

By: Bessel van der Kolk M.D. 

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust. In addition, he explores innovative treatments—from neuro-feedback and meditation to sports, drama, and yoga—that offer new paths to recovery by activating the brain’s natural neuroplasticity. Based on Dr. dan Der Kolk’s research and other leading specialists, The Body Keeps the Score exposes the tremendous power of our relationships both to hurt and to heal—and offers new hope for reclaiming lives.

  1. Set Boundaries Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself

By: Nedra Glover Tawwab 

Healthy boundaries. We all know we should have them to achieve work/life balance, cope with toxic people, and enjoy rewarding relationships with partners, friends, and family. But what do “healthy boundaries” really mean–and how can we successfully express our needs, say “no,” and be assertive without offending others?

Licensed counselor, sought-after relationship expert, and one of the most influential therapists on Instagram, Nedra Glover Tawwab, demystifies this complex topic for today’s world. In a relatable and inclusive tone, Set Boundaries, Find Peace presents simple-yet-powerful ways to establish healthy boundaries in all aspects of life. 

  1. The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help you Deserve

By: Dr. Rheeda Walker, Forward by: Na’im Akbar

We can’t deny it any longer: there is a Black mental health crisis in our world today. Black people die at disproportionately high rates due to chronic illness, suffer from poverty, under-education, and the effects of racism. This book is an exploration of Black mental health in today’s world, the forces that have undermined mental health progress for African Americans, and what needs to happen for African Americans to heal psychological distress, find community, and undo years of stigma and marginalization to access adequate mental health care.

  1. What Happened to You: A Conversation on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing 

By: Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey

Through deeply personal conversations, Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry offer a groundbreaking and profound shift from asking “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?”

Here, Winfrey shares stories from her past, understanding through experience the vulnerability of facing trauma and adversity at a young age. In conversation throughout the book, she and Dr. Perry focus on understanding people, behavior, and ourselves. It’s a subtle but profound shift in our approach to trauma, and it allows us to understand our pasts to clear a path to our future—opening the door to resilience and healing in a proven, powerful way.

These books, of course, are not a substitute for professional help, but they can aid in understanding your mental health on your own. If you or someone you know needs professional help for their mental health, please visit the HUED directory to find a professional in your area.

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Yes You Are Brown and You Still Need Sunscreen

If we were to list the best way to take a selfie, I am sure one of the top requests would be in the natural sun. Unfortunately, the natural lighting combined with the sun’s glow gives melanated skin tones, making the Instagram feed a permanent post. 

The sun is nature’s best highlight, but it can also be our skin’s biggest enemy if we do not take the necessary steps to provide protection. Unfortunately, despite what we were told as melanated people, natural skin can only protect us for so long. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, 90% of skin aging is due to sun exposure. So one protector is that sunscreen needs to be used in the summer and throughout the year.

Sunscreen is often marketed in the summer because more Americans are prone to spend more time outdoors. However, a survey found that close to 60% of Americans do not mark summer by date but by the temperature rise. Regardless of temperature, sunscreen protects from the sun’s rays year-round. According to Yale Scientific, sunscreen works to block and absorb UV radiation by using both physical and chemical components.  

As melanated people, we need to actively prevent sunburn and be aware of what sunburn looks like on our skin—your risk of melanoma doubles after suffering from 5 or more sunburns. Research recommends sunscreen with SPF 30 and above every 90 minutes while outside. Sunscreen with hats, sunglasses, and UV protective clothing will be the most effective. 

Recently, more sunscreen products have been created to help melanated skin. As a child, you may have run into an issue if the sunscreen does not properly soak into your skin and potentially turn skin purple or leave a white residue. However, looking for a lightweight sunscreen that possibly doubles as a moisturizer will help not get that sunscreen overcast. 

Now is the time to start adding sunscreen or other UV ray blockers into your daily skincare and morning routine. Below are tips that can help:

  1. Look for skin products that have SPF already, including many face primers and moisturizers that double as SPF protection. 
  2. Keep sunscreen readily available if spending a day outside; a small tube in your bag or car can help throughout the day.
  3. Sunscreen alone cannot do it all. Be sure to wear sunglasses, hats, and clothing to protect from sun rays.
  4. After getting a sunburn, take measures to heal that skin area.
  5. Be sure to talk to a dermatologist to understand your skin and the needed SPF for your body.

Melanated skin deserves protection, and we no longer have to wonder about what sunburn looks like and feels like on our skin. Thanks to Vaseline x HUEDs database “See My Skin,” photos of different skin conditions such as cancer and eczema are available for review. See My Skin is a dermatologist-backed platform created, so those with melanated skin no longer have to wonder about their skin conditions.

Keeping your skin covered, sunscreen, hats, shades, and platforms like See My Skin are ways to ensure lasting healthy skin. Also, find a dermatologist who knows your skin needs under the directory at HUED. Summer is here, and so is sun safety.

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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Melanoma Detection and Skincare Advice

Skin health is important to prioritize year-round, but with May being Skin Cancer Awareness Month, it’s important to share vital information on Melanoma, prevention, early detection, and ways to seek help and proper care with a board-certified dermatologist.

What is Melanoma?

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that arises when melanin-pigment making cells (melanocytes) grow abnormally. This form of skin cancer is most common on the trunk and extremities but can also be found in hidden places like the scalp and bottom of the foot. Melanoma may arise within an existing mole or on a normal appearing area of the skin. They can rarely develop inside the body wherever melanocytes can be found, such as the back of the eye on the retina. 

Who is affected by it?

I want you to know that melanoma does not discriminate, and it may affect anyone regardless of their age or race. The average age of diagnosis is 65 but it may be found in younger people under 30. This type of skin cancer is 20 times more common in Caucasians versus in Black and Hispanic communities. However, many patients with skin of color tend to be diagnosed later when their melanoma may be more advanced. The risk of melanoma is greater in someone who has a history of multiple severe sunburns or tanning bed use and those with a first degree relative with a history of melanoma.

How dangerous is it and what are the signs?

Melanoma can be dangerous and life threatening when it is found later, which means it has gone deeper in the skin and possibly started to spread beyond the skin’s surface. Although it accounts for about 1% of all skin cancers diagnosed in the US, melanoma causes most deaths from skin cancer. What makes melanoma so dangerous is that it can spread to the lymph nodes and other organs inside the body. It is estimated that one person dies of melanoma every hour each day. 

A melanoma typically does not have any symptoms in the early stages, but if left untreated, it may grow and cause problems such as pain, bleeding, and ulcers. Signs of a melanoma can include an abnormal appearing mole or growth that has changed over time or a new lesion that doesn’t look like any of the other spots on the skin. I call this the “ugly duckling” sign. Although rare, some melanomas may look like warts or skin tags. 

Signs to help you detect a melanoma are called the ABC’s of melanoma which are:

  1. Asymmetry: one half doesn’t match the other half
  2. Border: edges are irregular or scalloped
  3. Color: more than one color per spot
  4. Diameter: larger than a pencil eraser
  5. Evolution: changes in color, shape or size over time

A normal mole should ideally be smaller than a pencil eraser with smooth edges and just one color. It should stay the same shape, size, and color over your lifetime. Melanomas don’t always follow these rules, so you should ask your doctor about it if you have a spot of concern.

How do you treat melanoma?

Most melanomas are cured by surgery where the site of the melanoma and a small margin of normal skin is excised, and then the skin is stitched together. However, if melanoma is thicker or has spread to other body sites, it may require additional treatments like removal of the lymph nodes, radiation, and chemotherapy. When melanomas are more advanced dermatologists may partner with other physicians such as a surgical oncologist, medical oncologist or radiation oncologist. 

How do you prevent melanoma?

Melanoma prevention starts with sun protection. Ultraviolet exposure from the sun and radiation from tanning beds are the leading causes of damage that lead to melanoma. Therefore, it is very important to reduce the risk of sunburn and getting a tan when you are outdoors for extended periods of time.

Melanoma prevention tips:

  • Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or greater on exposed areas like the face, neck, and ears daily. 
  • Avoid the use of devices that emit harmful rays like gel nail curing devices and tanning beds. 
  • Apply sunscreen to the body 15 minutes prior to sun exposure and remember to reapply after 2 hours or after sweating or toweling off your skin. 
  • Wear a hat and sun protective clothing with special sun blocking fabric.
  • Have an annual skin cancer screening with a board-certified. 
  • Do a monthly self-skin exam to look for new or changing spots. 

I hope you find this information as part of your skin health journey. As an additional step of prevention and general care for your skin, I recommend booking a visit with a dermatologist in your area using Vaseline x HUED’s database HERE

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The Mental Impact On Our Virtual Lives

According to research, as of 2021, about 4.2 billion people utilize social media, roughly 58.4% of the global population. According to Merriam-Webster, social media is “a form of electronic communication where users can share videos, messages, and ideas with their curate community.” This encompasses platforms such as Instagram, Tiktok, YouTube, and even Pinterest. As social media usage skyrockets, so do the rate of mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

In 2020 the National Alliance of Mental Illness released the impact on mental health:

  • 1 in 5 experience mental health 
  • 1 in 20 experience serious mental health illness   
  • One in15 suffered mental health issues and substance abuse
  • Over 12 million people experienced suicidal ideations

Social media allows us to curate the life we want virtually; between filters and editors, you can be whoever you want to be very quick. However, does the impact of trying to obtain a certain status on these platforms outweigh what it is doing to our minds? Studies have shown that Americans spend around 4 to 6 hours daily on their smartphones, with some experiencing phenomena such as Phantom Vibration Syndrome.

Phantom Vibration Syndrome is when you believe your phone is vibrating. One study found that 89% of undergraduate students experienced phantom vibration and did not see it as concerning. Others, however, have been very transparent that they may have an unhealthy, even an addictive, relationship with their smartphone.

Another phenomenon is Social Media Anxiety Disorder, often referred to as FOMO, which is the constant need to check on your online friends and followers to ensure you are not missing out. Unfortunately, these individuals are also more likely to lie about how much time they spend using their phones and experience severe withdrawal symptoms when unable to use social media.

Individuals are also experiencing numerous forms of violence linked to social media usage. The Pew Research Center’s 2018 survey of U.S. teens showed that one in six teenagers had experienced at least one of six different forms of abusive behavior online:

  • Name-calling (42%)
  • Spreading false rumors (32%)
  • Receiving unsolicited explicit images (25%)
  • Having their activities and whereabouts tracked by someone other than a parent (21%)
  • Someone making physical threats (16%)
  • Having explicit images of them shared without their consent (7%)

There is also a correlation between body dysmorphia and social media in young adolescent girls, and some organizations are going as far as banning filters for their product promotions. As social media grows, so does our need to create checks and balances to have a healthy natural world life and an online presence. Below are some ways to protect your mental health from the downside of social media.

Tips on balancing social media usage:

  1. Implement downtime or screentime on your phone. This allows you not to pass a certain amount of time daily.
  2. Try a 30-day social media cleanse! Instead of checking your phone recenter on a new activity.
  3. Do not grab your phone for the first hour and last hour of the day.
  4. Unfollow accounts and people that are not good for your mind.
  5. Try automating your social media posts for your accounts to avoid logging in.
  6. Go outside! Nature and yoga can help to reconnect.
  7. Try to refrain from using your phone when hanging out with friends and family.
  8. Speak to your therapist if you feel you have an unhealthy relationship with social media.

Social media has its ups and downs, but it has proven influential when creating community and connecting across platforms. However, we have to keep in mind that social media can create moments of depression and anxiety, and in a time when you almost need to be interconnected, make time for yourself. 

Stay connected to us on Instagram @HUEDCO

Site content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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