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Summer-Safe Skin: What You Should Know About Skin Cancer

By Cancer, Skin, Travel

It’s National Skin Cancer Action week! Did you know that two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the age of 70? Most skin cancers can be prevented by good sun protection, and early detection significantly decreases the chance that you will need surgery or that the cancer will progress. The Australian Cancer Council has released some basic ways that you can prevent and detect skin cancers.


Australians have heard the “SunSmart” message and are usually good at applying it to our children. However, some lessons haven’t sunken in quite so well. Tanning for long hours in the sun is still a common sight, and sunburns are often treated as a joke instead of causing potentially serious long-term damage to the skin. In fact, a sunburn once every two years can triple your risk of developing a melanoma. It’s never too late to prevent further damage. The Cancer Council’s 5 forms of sun protection are:

  • slip on sun-protective clothing
  • slop on SPF30 (or higher) broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen
  • slap on a broad-brimmed hat
  • seek shade
  • slide on sunglasses.

Your summer can still be fun, but make sure your skin isn’t suffering for it.


Looking for skin cancer keeps you safer – early detection improves your chances that a relatively simple treatment can be used to fix a problem. Make a habit of doing regular self-checks of your skin for new spots and changes to existing freckles or moles. Getting to know your own skin and what is normal for you will make it much easier to detect any changes.

Remove all of your clothing and stand in good light, either using a mirror for hard-to-check areas or asking someone else to look for you. Don’t just focus on areas that see a lot of sun – sometimes skin cancers can grow in unexpected places, like the soles of the feet, under nails and between fingers and toes.

What are you looking for?

There are three main types of skin cancer- melanoma (including nodular melanoma), basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma. Each generally looks and behaves in a different way. As a rule, you can use the ABCD method for detecting changes:

  • A is for Asymmetry – Spots that aren’t symmetrical. Are both sides of the spot the same or is it an irregular shape?
  • B is for Border – A spot with a spreading or irregular edge (notched).
  • C is for Colour – Blotchy spots with a number of colours such as black, blue, red, white and/or grey.
  • D is for Diameter – Look for spots that are getting bigger

Some other considerations are moles that are new, increase in size, change colour, become raised; itch, tingle or bleed, or look different to your other moles.

If you do notice changes, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have skin cancer – but it does mean that you should visit your GP to have them looked at further. You can also discuss your personal skin cancer risk and schedule regular skin checks.

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss your skin health –>

5 ideas to keep you and your children hydrated this Summer

By Body Systems, Children's Health, General Wellbeing, Lifestyle, Nutrition, Travel

Why is it important to be hydrated?

Your body uses water for so many things, including maintaining temperature, removing waste, and lubricating joints. In fact, every single cell in your body requires water to work correctly!

What is dehydration?

Dehydration is a condition where the loss of body fluids exceeds the amount of fluid taken in. If severe, it can be quite dangerous and can even lead to death. 

What are the symptoms of dehydration?

If dehydration if mild, you may experience:

  • Feeling thirsty
  • Having a dry mouth, lips and tongue
  • Having a headache
  • Having dark yellow urine, and not much of it
  • Feeling dizzy or light headed when standing up

If dehydration is severe, you may experience

  • Feeling extremely thirsty
  • Having a very dry mouth
  • Breathing fast
  • Having a fast heart rate and low blood pressure
  • Having a fever
  • Having little or no urine
  • Feeling irritable, drowsy or confused

What causes dehydration?

You lose fluid every time you sweat, go to the bathroom, or even breathe. When it’s hot, the amount of fluid you lose doing just day-to-day activities increases dramatically. Dehydration can also be caused by vomiting and diarrhea – so it’s particularly important to be mindful of your fluid intake if you experience either of these, and potentially see your doctor if your symptoms don’t alleviate.

 So what are your five tips for keeping hydrated??

Glad you asked! Here they are:

  1. Add a slice of lemon or lime to your water bottle to add some flavor.
  1. If you often forget to drink water, make it part of your schedule – such as drinking when you wake, at each meal and when you go to bed. Alternatively you could drink a small glass of water every hour, or set a ‘water alarm’ on your phone to remind you to take a sip.
  1. Use a phone app to track how many cups of water you’ve had!
  1. Keep a jug of water on the dinner table and encourage everyone to fill their glass once before and once after eating.
  1. Prepare snacks made from water rich foods, such as cucumbers, melons or celery.
  1. Bonus tip! When you’re in the car, turn drinking water into a game, and see who can be the first to take a sip at each light.

Book online to see a GP to discuss any concerns about dehydration —>

Note: if you are concerned that you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of severe dehydration, please call 000.

Travel Vaccines – what’s the ‘point’?

By Immunisation, Lifestyle, Travel

Travel vaccines – what’s the ‘point’?

 Categories: Travel, vaccination, holiday


Who doesn’t love that time of year when you can jet off and escape somewhere with the family? I know I do. However, I was shocked to find that people often spend time planning their hotel, flights, sightseeing and even making meal reservations, but forget the most important thing – to protect themselves against preventable disease.

Why get travel vaccinations?

We are very fortunate to be living in Australia, where the spread of many infectious diseases has been controlled. Unfortunately this isn’t the case worldwide. When we travel we risk exposure to these diseases as well as diseases that don’t occur in Australia. Even in safe destinations, disease outbreaks do occur.

Additionally, some countries may require you to be vaccinated against particular diseases, and may deny you entry at the border if you haven’t done so.

While everyone should look into vaccination before travelling, particular groups are at higher risk of travel related diseases – such as pregnant women, babies and young children, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system.


How do vaccines work?

Vaccines work by exposing our bodies to small, safe, inactive doses of bacteria or virus that can cause disease. In response, our white blood cells activate and begin to make antibodies. These antibodies remain in our immune system, and are able to respond immediately if exposed to the active disease in the future. In other words, the vaccine tricks our body into thinking it is under assault, and the immune system responds by making a weapon which is on standby for future infection. The reason why there isn’t a ‘one vaccine fix all’ solution, is that the antibodies created by the body are specific to each particular disease. Further, some diseases, such as influenza (the flu), change enough to make existing antibodies ineffective. This is why we need flu shots every year.


Which vaccination will I need?

There isn’t one straight forward answer to this. It depends on your destination, previous vaccinations, the time since your last vaccinations, your age and health.

For travel to areas with high risk of specific infections, immunisation may be required for diseases including:

  • Cholera
  • Hepatitis A
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Meningococcal C
  • Rabies
  • Tick-borne encephalitis
  • Typhoid fever
  • Tuberculosis
  • Yellow fever


When should I start the process?

You should visit your doctor 6-8 weeks before departure. This is for two reasons:

(1) your immune system needs time to respond to a vaccination;

(2) some vaccines require more than one injection


If you have any further queries or will be travelling soon and haven’t received personal travel health advice, we highly recommend that you book yourself and your family in for a travel consultation. The independent GPs who consult at HealthMint offer travel immunisation and consultations in a beautiful and relaxing architecturally designed clinic.


P.S. We also highly recommend that you:

  • check the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade ‘Smarttraveller’ website prior to leaving, for country specific advice regarding safety, security, local laws and health and to register your travel plans in case of emergency;
  • have a read of our post on travelling with children

Tips for Travelling with Children

By Children's Health, General Wellbeing, Immunisation, Lifestyle, Travel

Planning a fun family trip these holidays? Travelling with children should be a joy, particularly with some forward planning. These tips will help smooth out some of the bumps and ensure you have a pleasant journey. 

Stay hydrated 

The recirculated air in aeroplanes can be particularly dehydrating, so it’s important to take regular sips of water. This can also help with motion sickness.

Feed infants at the same rate or pattern as you would at home

Feeding your child more than you normally would can increase their discomfort in flight. This is because it results in more gasses being ingested. Due to cabin pressure changes gas in our digestive system expands causing bloating and discomfort.

Contact the airline in advance

They can help with arranging children’s meals and a bassinet if you have a young baby.

Pack the baby wipes

You never know when they will come in handy to wipe hands, restaurant tables or even toilet seats!

Don’t forget the first aid kit!

I recommend speaking to your doctor about what you may need to take with you. But obvious ones would be panadol, bandaids and antihistamines.

Give your children a personal travel diary before leaving

I still remember how delighted I was as a child to go out and pick a travel diary before each holiday. I would then spend hours on the plane, in the car, and during my downtime detailing my day, where we went, what we saw, what we ate. I even kept wrappers from little chocolates and lollies, stickers, brochures and cards to stick in my diaries. If your kids are of an age where they can write, I highly recommend this. Even if their writing skills are just developing, encourage them to spend time in the aeroplane ‘planning’ their trip, writing in simple words or with pictures. I used to write down where we were heading, which cities, where we were staying and what I was hoping to see and eat there. You could also give them little drawing tasks like to draw aeroplane, the pilot, what sights they think they will see etc.

Use relaxing music

Music is wonderful for setting a mood, and this is no different when the mood you want to create for your children is one of relaxation. Why not load up a relaxing play list onto some iPods to help your children fall asleep while on the move? I used to lug around my purple diskman, usually with my Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera CDs. But I would also carry a CD of chill out music for whenever I wanted to zone out.

Dealing with anxiety / a fear of flying

Some children and adults have a fear of flying, which is very normal and very treatable. However, it’s not something to leave to the last minute – it is encouraged that you approach it well in advance. Your doctor can give advice on coping mechanisms and arrange specialist treatment if necessary.

Another tool which many find useful for anxiety is a product called Rescue RemedyRescue Remedy is a mix of flower remedies known for their calming effects. It comes in a variety of forms – drops, spray and pastilles. I recommend putting drops of Rescue Remedy in a water bottle to sip on while in transit – that way you are helping yourself/your child stay calm as well as hydrated.

Coping with ear pain

There is nothing worse than being exhausted from travel and then experiencing that excruciating pain in your ears during take off and landing. On one trip when my sister and I were little, we were both crying so much from pain that strangers passed chocolates down the aisle to us. It must have been pretty distressing for other travellers to see us like that.

It’s nothing serious, and certainly nothing to worry about. However, it can be very distressing – particularly for children. It occurs because the eustachian tube that runs between the middle ear and pharynx (part of the throat) gets blocked or swollen. When cabin pressure changes rapidly the blocked eustachian tube isn’t able to adjust properly, causing discomfort. This is particularly a problem for children whose eustachian tubes are shorter and more easily blocked than adults or those who have a cold, allergy or sinus condition.

I have since discovered something which means I no longer suffer when flying – Earplanes.  They work by lessening the pressure difference in your ear, allowing your eustachian tube to function more normally. Importantly, they come in a children’s version. Honestly, I never fly without them.

If, however, you or your child suffers from chronic sinus pain or an ongoing cold or virus, it’s important to see a doctor to get to the bottom of it.

My sister and I suffered from terrible ear pain during flights when we were younger. Since discovering Ear Planes, we haven’t had to worry!

Travel vaccines

Children are more vulnerable to picking up viruses than adults. It’s important make sure your child’s immunisations are up to date. There are also diseases specific to certain travel destinations – it is exceptionally important to get vaccinated against these before travel. It may also be a requirement of entry in some countries. Keep an eye out for my upcoming post on travel vaccination, and if you need to see a doctor in the mean time you can book here.

When should you see a doctor?

In most instances seeing a doctor prior to travel with children is a good idea. Your doctor will be able to advise you on whether you need any particular vaccinations and provide more detailed travel advice. They will be able to assess and treat your child if they are suffering from blocked ears or any other conditions. They will also be able to suggest specific medications that you may need to take with you.

you can book here to see an independent doctor who consults at HealthMint

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