Despite being the skin cancer capital of the world, almost one third of the Australian population don’t have enough vitamin D! Your body usually makes vitamin D from cholesterol when your skin is exposed to UV-B rays from the sun but for those of us working throughout the day, getting regular, small periods of sun exposure can be tough. Small, regular periods are important, as going out for hours in our climate will increase your risk of skin cancer.
Vitamin D tells your intestine to absorb calcium and without calcium your bones can become weak and brittle. If you have had blood tests that show a vitamin D and a calcium deficiency, we recommend a combination product with both Calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin D supplements on their own, however, can be used very safely to help prevent a deficiency to maximise bone health. Not many people with vitamin D deficiency show symptoms until it’s too late so if you think you could be at risk, come instore and talk to one of our Pharmacists today!
Coming into Summer, thinking about sun protection is crucial. Getting outside and having an increased sun exposure has been directly linked to beneficial effects on mood, however ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure from the sunlight can quickly cause sunburn, photoaging and skin cancer in Mooloolaba’s beautiful climate. UV light can be broken up into two different types, UV A and UV B. Traditionally UVA exposure has been associated with skin aging whilst UV B has been linked to skin burning. We now know that it is not this simple and both are associated with burning, aging and skin cancer; this is why solariums which use UV A have been made illegal!
There are many different active ingredients used in sunscreens to provide broad spectrum protection against UV radiation. These fall into two classes: inorganic or organic.
The inorganic sunscreens include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, commonly known as just ‘zinc’. The first zinc preparations were thick white products, very effective against the sun but terrible to put on and very drying. They now have created nano-particle versions, such as in ‘Invisible Zinc’ and ‘Salt and Stone’, which are easier to apply and rub into your skin. These products are generally what our pharmacists recommend, they stay on for longer and are nice to apply. There is, however, some evidence that inorganic barriers absorb the radiation instead of reflecting it.
Organic sunscreens reflect specific wave bands and so need to contain multiple ingredients to provide broad spectrum coverage. There are many different molecules used, most with long chemical names. Common ones include PABA derivatives, Salicylates, Octocrylene and Benzones. Benzones, in particular oxybenzone, can cause a reaction in some people, as such, it was recently removed from most cancer council sunscreens. We recommend La Roche-Posay products, who provide tinted, moisturising products that very rarely cause a reaction. Be careful of fragranced sunscreens if you are known to react to skin products!
Come in and talk to the staff at Mooloolaba Beach Pharmacy for recommendations. We have Quote this article for 15% off sunscreens!
Anaemia is the clinical term used when somebody doesn’t have enough functioning red blood cells in their body.
This leads to a lack of oxygen being transported around the body. As such, an anaemic person feels fatigued and lazy, unmotivated and can even feel dizzy, especially when standing up quickly. Iron deficiency is the leading cause of anaemia in the world, as iron is one of the most important building blocks for red blood cells. Australia reports rates of anaemia of almost 1 in 5 people and this number is even higher in women of reproductive age and children. Iron deficiency is also extremely common in those who choose a vegetarian or vegan diet, as leafy greens, nuts, lentils and beans contain “non-heme” iron which is more twice as hard for us to absorb.
Vaccines for the 2019 influenza season are now available at Mooloolaba Beach Pharmacy! Some pharmacists are now registered and trained to administer influenza vaccines, as well as the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) and the Diptheria-tetanus-pertusis (DTPa – whooping cough!) vaccines.
Influenza remains a common cause of hospitalisation and death in Australia. The quadrivalent vaccine available in pharmacy this year provides increased immunity to the 4 strains Queensland Health believes will have the biggest impact this flu season;
- A 2015 strain from Michigan
- A 2017 Strain from Switzerland
- A 2013 strain from Phuket
- A 2017 strain from Colorado (not included in trivalent immunisations).
Vaccination is funded under the national immunisation program if you are;
- 65 Years of age or older
- Identify as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
- Have other chronic health conditions
You may also qualify for a high-dose, trivalent vaccine. Come in store to see if you qualify for the National Immunisation Program or to get your vaccine during business hours from Monday through Friday!
Have you ever wondered why pharmacists are sceptical when you come in and say, ‘that brand doesn’t work for me’ or ‘that one gives me hiccups’? Is it because pharmacists are inherently assholes that don’t like believing their patients? It definitely could be, some of us, myself included, have been known to be assholes occasionally. However, I personally like to think it’s mostly because of our belief in evidence-based medicine.
Evidence-based medicine is the foundation of all conventional medicine, but in general it is a very poorly understood term and a true understanding of evidence-based medicine makes it hard to accept sometimes. Let me be controversial for a second:
In evidence-based medicine, your experience is a case study. This can be very hard to come to terms with. Your experience is a single person reporting a single thing; if it is inconsistent with the literature, it is the lowest form of evidence.
Let me give an example; I go to work with a headache and so I take some paracetamol. I take a home brand paracetamol that I’ve never used before. As soon as I take the paracetamol, my headache gets twice as bad. Almost everyone would blame the paracetamol for making the headache worse; it happened straight after I ingested the medication, surely it caused it? In fact, the timing is almost definitely a coincidence. The evidence base with multiple systematic reviews have shown that in millions of cases, this hasn’t happened before. This means that it is far more likely that the headache getting worse is due to something else. Maybe it was getting worse anyway? Maybe the third coffee this morning was one to many? This is why most pharmacists, doctors and other health professionals may be sceptical when you say “that medication doesn’t work for me” or “that gave me a rash” when the literature hasn’t shown that medication to cause that side effect before. True, maybe you are the first reported case, maybe it is an unknown side effect that hasn’t been seen before but how can you truly know that the rash was due to that medication?
Good research uses a control group who take placebo medications to ensure that you can rule out bias as much as possible. This group literally only takes a sugar tablet or a chalk tablet that has been proven to have no effect. After months, however, this group always has side effects and often experiences a benefit anyway. This is the placebo effect. In life, you don’t have a comparison group that you can compare to. There’s not another version of you who didn’t take the tablet, so it is almost impossible to know if the effect was because of the medication or whether it was completely unrelated. We have to rely on the evidence base available and believe what it says and this often makes us seem like sceptics.
It’s our job as pharmacists to stay on top of the evidence base and make sure we know what has been proven to work, what side effects are possible and what has been proven not to work. So please excuse us next time we appear rude or sceptical. It’s not you. It’s us.
Eczema usually refers to the medical term Atopic Dermatitis (Atopic: Allergy based, Dermatitis: skin inflammation). It commonly develops in childhood but can sometimes present for the first time in adults. It is a result of both inherited genetic factors, as well as exposure to environmental factors.
Clinically it presents with dry, red, itchy patches of skin, most often on the face and in the skin folds of the elbow, knee, ankle and wrist. It can progress and be very severe, with hospitalisation necessary in some cases. Most commonly it resolves through childhood and disappears before primary school, however a small percentage of patients have eczema into adulthood.
It is best to avoid common triggers, such as soap, shampoo, bubble bath (especially those commonly found in hotel rooms!), rough clothing, carpet, grass and heavily chlorinated pools or spas. As such we recommend regularly using a soap free wash and moisturiser, such as Dermaveen or QV washes. If the skin is very dry, a Urea cream such as Urederm is ideal.
During flares, a topical corticosteroid will bring down the redness and inflammation and pharmacists can provide hydrocortisone 1% creams such as DermAid or Cortic-DS for this, or refer you to the doctor for more severe attacks.
Pharmacists are often in a better position than doctors to help prevent attacks, so come in and see the friendly team at Mooloolaba Beach Pharmacy if you or your child has symptoms of eczema!
Summer is gone and Winter is coming! HealthDirect, an Australian government-funded service, is predicting a bad flu season this year with influenza diagnoses already exceeding previous averages throughout April. Now is the time to boost your immune system!
Our Pharmacists and assistants recommend ArmaForce© by Bioceuticals or Immune Defence© by Ethical Nutrients. These both contain the natural products Andrographis, Echinacea and Zinc. A systematic review in 2017 found that Andrographis improves overall symptoms of URTI as well as shortening the duration of the cold. ArmaForce contains added vitamin C and olive leaf extract while Immune Defence contains a larger dose of Andrographis with added ginseng and turmeric. Come in store and talk to the team about boosting your immune system!
A red and inflamed eye is a very common presentation in pharmacy but it can also become quickly
dangerous. The most common culprits causing a red eye in pharmacy are the three types of
conjunctivitis and benign causes such as lack of sleep, prolonged screen time, smoke exposure and
direct irritation. These are not significant issues and can be treated over the counter. There are,
however, some worrying conditions that can progress rapidly and lead to lasting visual impairment.
It is our job as pharmacists to pick out when we can help you instore and when there is a nastier
cause that needs further evaluation.
The most important red flag that we look for is a painful eye. Conjunctivitis is irritating, looks like an
eyesore – pun intended – and can be sharp and scratchy, however it will not cause a dull ache or
pain. This usually means that there is a deeper cause leading to a raised pressure deeper in the eye
(such as glaucoma or a bleed into to posterior chamber of the eye). This always needs to be
investigated further, either by an optometrist or in the emergency department of a hospital.
Another red flag is visual changes. If there is blurred vision or a blind spot, this again needs urgent
follow up. Other things to look out include increased sensitivity to light, symptoms lasting longer
than 1 week or if your eye is red and you are currently taking blood thinners such as warfarin or one
of the novel oral anticoagulants.
Red Flags! When to go straight to the doctor
- Painful or Aching Eye
- Blurred Vision
- Sensitivity to the light
- Not responding to treatment
- Symptoms that have lasted for a full week
- Red Eye in somebody taking blood thinning medications
We can however help with conjunctivitis. The stereotypical sticky, yellow eye that most people
associate with conjunctivitis is a type of bacterial infection. We can provide antibiotic eye drops or
ointment to help with this.
There is also an allergy-based conjunctivitis which usually causes an itchy, watery and red eye. It can
be associated with the other allergy symptoms such as rash and a runny nose. This can be treated
with saline, lubricating eye-drops or an antihistamine eye-drop.
Viral conjunctivitis is the last type of conjunctivitis. This appears similar to an allergic cause but isn’t
itchy. Best treatment is with cold compress and lubricating eyedrops. There is no reason to use
antibiotics for either viral or allergic conjunctivitis and it is our responsibility as pharmacists to
ensure that there is a therapeutic need before dispensing antibiotics. This will help ensure that the
bacteria don’t become resistant and that the drops will keep working in future when they are