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The Doctor’s Orders For Healthy Skin This Summer

Author: Dr Victor Roseverne, a GP at Kingscliff Health medical and allied health centre in Kingscliff, NSW. 

Summer is the season for long days spent basking in the beautiful Aussie sun. However, as the weather warms up UV levels can wreak havoc on exposed skin. Without proper sun protection, it means exposing ourselves and our beautiful kids to very high levels of UV radiation – that’s the stuff in the sunlight that damages the DNA in our skin cells, potentially leading to skin cancer.

Whilst no-one is immune to developing skin cancer, the pigmentation (melanin) of our skin assists in its prevention. Melanin provides skin cells with some UV protection, and scientists hypothesise it may also help repair the damage UV radiation causes to skin cell DNA. For these reasons, those of us with fair skin (less melanin) are at increased risk of developing skin cancer. 

Apart form discussing the main risk factor for developing skin cancer, I wanted to share some easy practical ideas I feel will help you keep up your fun healthy summer activities while reducing your risk of skin cancer later in life:

  1. Try to apply on dry clean skin at least 15 minutes before going into the sun or getting wet. Of course, trying to get in on your kids is easier said than done. My kids can be very uncooperative! 
  2. You also need to reapply it every 2-3 hrs at least, especially if you’re in the water. 
  3. A physical barrier such as rash shirts is always more effective than sunscreen.
  4. It’s a good idea to learn and appreciate your skin type as well as your family history of skin cancers. Having this knowledge will help you know if you have an increased risk so you can then modify your lifestyle accordingly.
  5. Early morning bike rides or late afternoon swims in the creek are good ways to reduce your skin cancer risk as the sun is most intense between 10am and 2pm.
  6. Keep an eye on you and your families skin. Let them know about any lumps or spots you’re concerned about as they may not be able to see them.
  7. Having comprehensive skin checks or seeing a doctor about any lumps or spots you’re concerned about significantly reduces your risk of more complicated treatment later on.

I enjoy checking peoples skin as it’s such a vital health issue in Australia. However, often people ask about their skin at the end of a consult, which is not ideal, as doing a thorough skin check takes time, requiring a dedicated appointment. So if you have any skin spots you’d like checked out, please book an appointment especially for this, so we can give the appropriate attention to the health of your skin. 

So with Summer here its a good idea to try and implement some risk reduction whilst enjoying some summertime fun and if you have any concerns about your skin, please consult your GP.

Dr Victor Roseverne is an experienced GP with areas of interest in skin cancer checks, skin cancer surgery, indigenous health, children’s health, and chronic disease management.  Book an appointment online with Dr Victor Roseverne or call us on 02 6670 1400.

* The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. You must consult your doctor before acting on the information in this article, especially if you have concerns regarding health related issues for yourself and your family.


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Sun & Your Skin: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly!

Author: Dr David Shaw, a skin and cosmetic GP at Kingscliff Health medical and allied health centre in Kingscliff, NSW. 

Everyone knows that a bit of sun is good for you, right?  So why are we told to avoid it?

It’s because public health messages need to be simple to be effective.  But this issue is anything but simple.   How to get the health benefits from the sun whilst avoiding its nasty effects is a bit of a delicate balance!

Ok, so what are the positive health effects of sun exposure and how can we get them?  

Firstly, it’s really important to expose our eyes to early morning bright daylight.  Indoor light just doesn’t cut it!  Depression, anxiety and sleep disturbance may result from inadequate light.  Visualising the strong blue and green colours of the outdoors has similar benefits.

It’s well known that we need sunlight on our skin to synthesize Vitamin D to obtain its numerous benefits including bone health.  However, scientific studies are now demonstrating something really astounding – that skin exposure to sunlight also helps to regulate and balance our immune system.  It does this by mildly suppressing immune functioning in our skin.  This appears to have far-reaching effects throughout the body. There is evidence that inflammatory and autoimmune conditions of both the skin and the body as a whole can be reduced or prevented by appropriate sun exposure.  This is really quite a breakthrough in our understanding of the immune system.

But here’s the rub – what is appropriate exposure?  Now this differs for different skin types.  It goes without saying that getting burnt is not helpful! For me, with very fair skin, this will happen in just a few minutes in the midday summer sun – simply hanging out a load of washing is enough to burn me!  UVB rays, which are the most burning, but also necessary for vitamin D and immune function, are virtually absent at the ends of the day.  So a small dose (and I mean small) of midday sun is actually a good thing!   If you have reddened at all, you’ve had too much.   You will need slightly longer exposure times if you are at higher latitudes (further away from the equator), are in the northern hemisphere, and during winter.   

Yes, I know that’s not what you have probably heard, but like I said, public health messages cannot be nuanced! 

What about the ‘Bad’ of sun exposure?

Well, that’s pretty obvious – skin cancer.  Just a few words regarding this: Whilst getting outdoors at the ends of the day will reduce your skin cancer rates, there is a catch –  UVA levels are still the same as in the middle of the day.  Whilst UVA is not as harmful as UVB, it can still cause cancer.  And at the ends of the day, the sun’s rays come in at a low angle and get into the nooks and crannies of your face.  I see numerous skin cancers’s in these areas in people who swear they only ever go outside at the ends of the day.

Ok, I promised to discuss the ‘Ugly’ of sun and skin too

Right, that is photoaging: premature aging of the skin due to UV exposure. Nobody likes their skin looking old and we spend a fortune on trying to reverse this.  Why not prevent it instead?  It’s much cheaper that way.  Here’s how:

  • Avoid exposing your face to virtually any sun.  
  • Wear sunscreen on your face, even at the start and end of the day.  
  • Women wearing foundation or daycreams containing sunscreen should reapply during the day if additional outdoor activity is planned.   
  • If you choose midday sun exposure for health reasons, keep you face, neck and upper chest out of it, as these are the areas most prone to photoaging and the ones we want to keep looking good!

Most of us can get away with sun exposure on our skin for many years without obvious effects.   However, beyond your early thirties, your sun sins will be revealed!

Dr David Shaw is a highly experienced skin and cosmetic GP with areas of interest in dermatology, skin cancer checks, skin cancer surgery, and cosmetic injectables. Book an appointment online with Dr David Shaw or call us on 02 6670 1400.

* The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. You must consult your doctor before acting on the information in this article, especially if you have concerns regarding health related issues for yourself and your family.


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Pregnancy Care: What to Expect.

Author: Dr Jessica McEwan, a GP at Kingscliff Health medical and allied health centre in Kingscliff, NSW. 

Pregnancy… it’s a magical time in a women’s life, right?  Well not always!  I should know, after not having the easiest pregnancy myself.  I have a lovely almost 15 month old, and being pregnant gave me a great insight into just how an expectant mother feels and what is most important. Unfortunately I have found that a mum’s or mum-to-be’s needs aren’t always addressed adequately. Women tend to think they have to put up with the range of symptoms they are suffering from for the duration of the pregnancy, believe it is like a ‘rite of passage’ or that everyone does it. This is far from the case.

As your GP, I like to see my patients before you even become pregnant.  During this consultation we talk about how to optimise your health for the best pregnancy possible.  There are some really important topics we can discuss during this visit, and it can be a great way to manage any preventable health issues such as making sure your vaccinations are up to date before you start trying. 

And then it happens, you’re pregnant!  Congratulations!  

When you first find out you are expecting a baby it’s usually an exciting time.  If it’s your first pregnancy you might not know what to expect from your pregnancy or your first doctor consultation.  The first visit with me is always a long one, usually lasting around 30 minutes long.  During this time, we discuss your general health and establish how far along you are.  We then discuss a number of other issues such as foods to avoid, screening for abnormalities and how you would like to to be cared for during your pregnancy. This is about you! 

In our second consultation, we review the results ordered at your first consultation and find out how you would like your pregnancy care to proceed.  I also go over some of the common first trimester symptoms during this time to see how you are going and make sure we are looking after you.  Fortunately, there are some safe and useful ways we can manage the dreaded morning sickness!

You can choose a number of different paths to have your care managed through the rest of your pregnancy.  If you choose to see a private obstetrician, they will see you most of the time, but I am always here if you’re unwell or have questions.   Alternatively, you can go through the local public hospital and have a mix of care with doctors and midwives. If you go through the public health system you can also choose to have GP shared care.  This means that you alternate your visits between the hospital clinic and me, your GP.  As your GP, I love being involved in your pregnancy, and it is really helpful to know what has happened during that 9 months when you come back and see us with your beautiful new bub, then toddler, then teenager!  Whatever you decide to do, you can be reassured that as your GP I can be there for you at any stage of your pregnancy. 

Once you have your baby, we like to see both you and bub around the 6-week mark for a check-up.  At this visit we talk about how your delivery went, check your mental health, discuss how you are feeding your baby and your contraception needs. I also try to sneak in a cuddle or two, they’re just too cute!  We also do a check up of your physical health.  The first few months of your baby’s life can be very overwhelming and tiring for new mums, so it’s important to look after you. 

As your GP, I am always honoured to be involved in the care of you and your  baby before, during and after pregnancy.  Taking the time during these consultations to optimise a your health and quality of life now and into the future is really important to me.  I currently have appointments available for ongoing and new patients of all ages and would love to see you at Kingscliff Health sometime soon!

Dr Jessica McEwan is a highly experienced GP with areas of interest in women’s health, children’s/family health and pregnancy care.  She has a friendly manner and is dedicated to providing her patients with a comprehensive and personalised approach. Book an appointment online with Dr Jessica McEwen or call us on 02 6670 1400.

* The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. You must consult your doctor before acting on the information in this article, especially if you have concerns regarding health related issues for yourself and your family.

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Women's Health Physiotherapy Kingscliff

The core, the floor and more….

Author: Jodie Robertson, women’s health physiotherapist at Kingscliff Health medical and allied health centre in Kingscliff, NSW. 

There are many reasons for our pelvic floor becoming weaker and contributing to problems with control of our bladder and/or bowel. These include pregnancy, age, poor bladder habits, poor exercise habits or lack of general exercise, being overweight, weak abdominal muscles and more…

For many women, the weakening of the pelvic floor is slow and gradual and we may not notice anything until we experience a change in routine such as a new exercise program, a 2nd or 3 rd pregnancy or even an illness, injury or surgery that causes us to be sedentary or lose fitness. By the time you start to notice leaking or urgency, your pelvic floor has already weakened and you will need to take specific steps to restore its strength and normal function to be able to resume leak causing activities safely, without leaking and with better control.

The first step is identifying where the pelvic floor is and how it normally functions. The Continence Foundation of Australia has many resources available online and pamphlets which can be a helpful first step. However, evidence and clinical experience regarding how to best to train the pelvic floor, particularly in people who are having leaking or control problems, tells us that reading from a pamphlet or book is the least effective way to learn this skill. This is because the training elements of accuracy, feedback and personalization cannot be delivered easily in a self-help format.

A visit to a women’s health physiotherapist can go along way in helping you firstly identify the correct muscles and then learn the correct muscle activation pattern and provide you with a personalized exercise program based on your baseline performance. You may also benefit from the many feedback devices used to assess and help you train the pelvic floor such vaginal cones, biofeedback devices, such as trans (across) abdominal ultrasound. Everyone is different in how they learn and a skilled physiotherapist will be able to identify what works best for you and teach you the best possible way for you to strengthen your pelvic floor and achieve success efficiently and for the long term.

This video , produced by the Continence Foundation of Australia is an excellent visualization tool for you to get started and decide to seek the help you deserve to get you back on track enjoying life with confidence and control.

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Is Your Child Immunised Against Meningococcal B?

Author: Dr Scott Pearson, a GP Registrar at Kingscliff Health medical and allied health centre in Kingscliff, NSW. 

My name is Dr Scott Pearson. I have a strong background in paediatrics, having trained as a paediatrics registrar. I really enjoy bringing my hospital based knowledge and experience into the general practice setting.

A common conversation I have been having with parents lately is about immunisations for meningococcal disease. Meningococcal is a bacterial infection of the blood and/or membranes that line the brain and spinal cord. Whilst rare, it can be potentially life threatening. Babies and children up to the age of five accounted for 20% of meningococcal cases in 2016. Vaccination is the only truly effective way to prevent infection. 

The main point I bring up with parents is that even with standard immunisations, their child may still be at risk from meningococcal B, a particular strain of meningococcal that is not offered with the standard schedule at 1 year of age. NSW Health strongly recommends an additional meningococcal B immunisation, even though it is not covered by the (free) National Immunisation Schedule. It costs around $130/dose (depending on the pharmacy), and most children require a 2 (or sometimes 3) dose schedule, depending on their age. 

I am very happy to discuss this issue in person with parents and have a wonderful fact sheet with all of the information parents need to know to make an informed decision.

In the meantime, it is important to take your child to the doctor for immunisations at the following ages, as well as a health check-up at any other time you are concerned or your child becomes unwell:

  • First week of life
  • 6 weeks
  • 4 months
  • 6 months
  • 12 months
  • 18 months
  • 4 years

I am very happy to see children of any age. I have a policy that all new patients have their first appointment as a dedicated long appointment. This gives us adequate time to get to know each other and for me to familiarise myself with your child’s individual healthcare needs. All of my services are bulk billed for children under 18 years of age on weekdays. 

Book an appointment online with Scott or by calling us on 02 6670 1400 to learn more about how we can help you with the health and well being of your child. We have a comprehensive approach to children’s health ranging from preventive medicine, diet and fitness as well as check-ups and acute care for illness and minor bumps and injuries.

* The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. You must consult your doctor before acting on information in this article, especially if you have concerns regarding health related issues for yourself and your family.

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