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I am often asked, “What is the proper timeline for facials, peels and microdermabrasion treatments?” Depending on the person’s skin and goals, I typically recommend treatments every four to six weeks. This timeline also works for chemical peels and the Fire & Ice facial, the newest addition to our facial treatment line up.

If you take a look at the life cycle of a facial, you can understand how the skin reacts with time and when best to schedule.

  • Immediately after a facial, your skin will be left glowing and rejuvenated.
  • Within 48 – 72 hours, your skin will be hydrated, as circulation is boosted.
  • Within 28 – 48 days, skin cells are regenerated and the long-term benefits of the facial kick in.
  • Dead skin begins to build up around 28 to 48 days post-facial, and that is when it is time to have another professional treatment.

As we age, our cellular turnover decreases where skin regenerates at a much slower rate, causing wrinkles to form. By receiving treatments every 4-6 weeks, the dead skin will be removed and improve the effects of aging.

One treatment isn’t going to take care of your skin issues, but if you maintain your skin like you do your hair color and nails, you will see a world of a difference. When was your last treatment? You only get one set of skin, so take care of the skin you are in!

If you are unsure of the best treatment option for your skin type and goals, schedule a skin consultation with me by calling 814.231.7878.

Sleep is a critical piece of physical and mental health. With all the change, uncertainty, and stress brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are experiencing difficulty sleeping. There are several concrete steps you can take to improve your sleep during this troubling time.

First, it’s important to recognize that challenges with your sleep right now are understandable. Many of our patients report often going to bed later than usual, and getting up later, as a result of being out of work, even temporarily. Our normal routines have been disrupted with school closures, working from home, social distancing requirements, and the advice to stay at home as much as possible. Further, we are all experiencing anxiety related to fears of ourselves or loved ones – especially those in high risk groups – becoming infected with COVID-19 or inadvertently spreading the disease to others. The economic impact of the pandemic also leads to concerns about income, savings and making ends meet. All of these create barriers to sleep.

Sleep offers a broad range of physical and mental health benefits, which are always important, but even more so during times like these. Sleep strengthens our immune system and sleep loss impairs the body’s defense systems. Sleep improves brain function, aiding complex thinking, learning, memory and decision making—which are all key for adults and children adjusting to work and school from home. Sleep also enhances mood and improves our mental health, helping us to cope and stay positive during challenging times.

So what can you do to promote better sleep? There are several steps you can take. You may not notice an immediate improvement, but don’t give up. It can take time to stabilize your sleep and you may need to tweak the recommendations to meet your individual needs.

Keep a routine. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends. Make sure you get enough sleep; the baseline recommendation for adults is seven hours per night. Incorporate time for winding down before you go to sleep. This can include light reading, stretching, meditation and preparation for bed like brushing your teeth.

Make your bedroom a comfortable, relaxing place for sleep. It’s important to create an association in your mind between your bed and sleep, so try to reserve your bed just for sleep as much as possible. Don’t bring your laptop in for work or watching a movie or series. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature.

Optimize exposure to light. Light provides cues to our bodies for rest and wakefulness. Try to spend some time outside in natural light every day. Keep windows and blinds open to let light into your home during the day. Be mindful of screen time, which easily may have gone up during the pandemic. Avoid using your devices in the last 30-60 minutes before bed, or use them with blue light filter settings.

Stay active. Regular exercise can help you fall asleep more easily at night. Take a walk around your neighborhood (while staying a safe distance away from others), follow along with an online workout or class, or take care of household jobs like cleaning and gardening.

Be mindful of food and drink. Keep a healthy diet. Avoid large meals, caffeine and alcohol before bedtime. If you are hungry at night, eat a light, healthy snack. Also try to reduce your fluid intake before bedtime and stay hydrated throughout the day.

Use relaxation techniques. Deep breathing, yoga, stretching, mindfulness meditation, calming music and quiet reading are a few examples. Limit your intake of coronavirus-related news, which can cause stress. Visit one or two trusted news sources during a short, pre-set amount of time each day. Connect with loved ones for support.

If you have severe or worsening sleep or other health problems, don’t hesitate to reach out to your doctor. Mount Nittany Health is committed to providing you the care you need, when you need it and continues to offer in-office and telehealth options for patients.

For more information on how Mount Nittany Health is safely opening more of its services, visit mountnittany.org/open.

Joseph Cable, DO, is a provider with Mount Nittany Physician Group Pulmonary Medicine and Sleep Management program. He sees sleep patients at Mount Nittany Health—Sieg Neuroscience Center and pulmonary patients at the Mount Nittany Health—Park Avenue location.

Summer is here, and with it more daylight hours, making it easy to take a relaxed attitude towards sleep habits and bedtime routines. While kids don't usually want to sleep before it's dark outside, maintaining a consistent routine plays an important role in helping kids get the sleep they need. Children thrive on a regular bedtime routine. Lack of sleep can lead to challenging behaviors and health problems such as irritability, difficulty in concentrating, hypertension, obesity, headaches and depression. Studies continue to show that children who get enough sleep have healthier immune systems and better behavior, memory and mental health. Here are guidelines to help children develop good sleep habits. 

Create and keep a regular daily routine. This includes keeping routine waking, nap and meal times, as well as,playtime. Routines help children feel secure and comfortable and will create smoother bedtimes. Bedtime routines can be as simple as brush, book and bed, which means the routine can be used anywhere, helping your child sleep wherever you may be. Don't forget that teens require more sleep, not less, as you adapt nighttime routines as children age. 

Make sleep a family priority. Lack of sleep impacts both adults and children, taking a toll on mental functioning and increasing the risk for health problems. It can be tempting to believe you and your children can get by reasonably well with a few skipped hours here and there. Modelling how you value sleep will set an important example that getting enough sleep is part of a healthy lifestyle like eating well and exercising. 

Monitor screen time. The relationship between screen time and sleep is complicated. Research shows those who have high amounts of screen time tend to go to bed later, take longer to fall asleep, and sleep fewer hours than those with less screen exposure. To prevent sleep disruption, turn off all screens at least one hour before bedtime.

Create the right sleep conditions. Keep your child's bed a place to sleep and not play by avoiding using the bed as a place to store toys. A special comfort item or two such as a doll or blanket is okay and can help ease anxiety. Dim the lights and, if needed, use a soft nightlight to help set the mood for sleep. Also consider lowering the temperature at night, as colder temperatures are known to improve sleep. 

Be active. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that preschool-aged children (ages 3 through 5 years) should be physically active throughout the day for growth and development. School-aged children and adolescents (ages 6 through 17 years) should do 60 minutes or more of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity each day. Fresh air and exercise will help exhaust children and youth making them look forward to bedtime and restorative sleep. 

Ensure downtime. Taking time each night for children to wind down and relax from the day will help ease the transition from an active day to a bedtime routine. 

Recognize sleep problems. Common sleep problems in children include difficulty falling asleep, nighttime awakenings, snoring, stalling and resisting going to bed, sleep apnea, and loud or heavy breathing while sleeping. Discuss your child's sleep habits and problems with your pediatrician.  Most sleep problems are easily treated. Your pediatrician may ask you to keep a sleep log or have additional suggestions for improving your child's sleep habits.

Your child needs healthy teeth and gums for talking, eating and smiling. Follow these tips to help your child have a healthy mouth now and in the future:

  • Before your baby’s teeth come in, wipe the baby’s gums with a soft, clean wash cloth after each feeding.
  • After teeth come in, wipe your baby’s teeth - brush once in the morning and once before bed using a small smear of fluoridated toothpaste. Wipe off the teeth until your baby is old enough to spit it out.
  • Do not put your baby to bed with a bottle containing anything other than water.
  • Avoid saliva-sharing behaviors between children through their toys, pacifiers, etc.

For more kids-specific health information, visit kids.mountnittany.org.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), annual wellness visits are important because they can find potential problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. 

  • Rather than a physical, an annual wellness visit is conversation with a medical provider about your health.
  • Mount Nittany Health recommends having an annual wellness visit each year in order to establish a baseline for your health — one that is specific to you — and to create a plan based on risk factors and concerns.
  • Most commercial insurances as well as Medicare plans cover annual wellness visits at no cost to the patient.

To learn more about annual wellness visits, mountnittany.org/wellnessvisit.

Annual wellness visits are important for our health, especially as we age. Being proactive about your healthcare can literally save your life. In fact, getting your vitals taken, and possibly some blood work, can help detect early warning signs for potentially serious issues. Catching these indicators early and starting preventive treatment can make all the difference.

To help you get the most out of your appointment, here are the top 10 questions to bring up during your time in the exam room.

1. Do I still need my medications?
Sometimes, the medications you’re taking may no longer be needed. Many medications treat symptoms only, and over time those symptoms can go away or alter on their own, independent of the medicine itself.

2. Does my family's health put me at risk?
Doctors know to ask about your family’s past illnesses during a first exam, but it’s likely that your family history has changed slightly since you’ve last seen your doctor. Update your doctor on recent health events concerning relatives, and ask if you are at risk for anything based on the new information.

3. Are my bowel movements normal?
This can be an embarrassing question, but if you are having what you think are strange or irregular bowel movements, especially if they are painful or contain blood, you should raise the question.

4. Am I getting enough sleep?
The amount of sleep each person needs varies, but the general consensus is that it should be about 6-9 hours per night. If you have been feeling like you may not be getting enough sleep, ask your doctor how that might be affecting you and if they need to do any additional tests regarding your sleeping patterns or the effects of your lack of sleep.

5. How is my blood pressure?
Sometimes, if your blood pressure isn’t alarmingly high or low, the doctor won’t tell you the exact number unless you ask. However, it can never hurt to get the exact number if you are worried about tracking it due to your family history or your own medical history.

6. Is this normal?
Bring up anything that you may be worried about. Some issues can be sensitive, such as talking about your libido, amount of discharge, or menopausal issues, but your doctor is the person who will be able to help you address them properly.

7. Would you recommend any additional annual screenings?
As we all get older, it’s important to be proactive about our health. You may want to ask your doctor if he or she thinks that you should start any annual screenings, like a mammogram or colonoscopy, a bit sooner based on your family and medical history.

8. How is my weight?
Weight can be a very touchy subject, but it can affect your health in very serious ways. It’s important to have a non-judgmental discussion with your doctor if you are pushing the boundaries one way or another, and to talk about how you can get to the healthiest version of yourself.

9. What do I need to do between now and my next visit?
Ultimately, your health is in your hands. You and your doctor should take the time to talk about what kinds of things you need to be doing in your daily life in order to stay healthy — from dietary choices to lifestyle decisions.

10. What important questions haven't I asked?
Doctors are people, too, and they might be a bit forgetful. Sometimes they can forget to bring up a topic of discussion, and if you ask them if there is anything that you’ve missed, that little reminder won’t hurt.

Cynthia Alexander, MD, is a provider with Mount Nittany Physician Group Internal Medicine in Bellefonte. To schedule an appointment, call 814.355.7322.

To learn more about the importance of annual wellness visits, or to find a healthcare provider near you, visit mountnittany.org

This article originally appeared in the Centre Daily Times.

Summertime usually means vacations, outdoor adventures and a lot of time spent in the sun. One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is, “Is it safe to get a chemical peel in the summer?” The answer isn’t a simple yes or no.

A chemical peel is a skin rejuvenation or skin resurfacing treatment that makes the texture of your skin smoother by removing the top layers of dead skin. Because of this, it is important to avoid any irritation or inflammation to the skin following a chemical peel. For example, you don’t want to get a peel and then leave for the beach the very next day. You should be mindful of your activities and your exposure to the sun, even on cloudy days.

If you choose to get a chemical peel in the summer, I recommend choosing a lighter depth peel and diligently follow post-procedural care:

  • Stay out of the heat and sun
  • Do not work out, swim, use a hot tub or steam room/sauna for at least two days
  • No exfoliating or waxing for five to seven days

As a reminder, it’s not necessary to see visible peeling following a chemical peel. Improvements in the texture, tone and overall appearance of the skin take place whether or not peeling occurs, so go ahead and schedule that chemical peel year round!

If you need faster results than a traditional chemical peel, our Fire & Ice facial might be the facial for you. This treatment offers similar benefits as chemical peels, but there is no downtime following treatment. Right now, the Fire and Ice treatment is on special at Mount Nittany Reconstructive & Cosmetic Surgery for $99 and includes a lip plumping application. Schedule your treatment today by calling 814.231.7878.


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