How to Use Bath Salts: From Body Scrubs to Foot Care

By Sushmita Sengupta

 

Bath salts aren’t just another indulgent addition to your bathroom, but they come with a host of benefits as well. These benefits not only enrich your bathing experience but your skin as well, provided you know how to use these bath salts and extract maximum benefits out of it. Bath salts can also bring of several health related benefits like treating muscle soreness, or treating itchiness and insomnia. Nutrients like calcium, bromide, magnesium, potassium present in these salts help radiate your skin, and also eliminate all impurities in your skin. But, if you have sensitive skin then you may want to stay away from processed bath salts that may end up giving you allergic reactions. Go for natural bath salts containing essential minerals and nutrients which can do wonders for your skin. These scented salts need not always be purchased from luxury stores and can, in fact, be made at home as well.

However, to reap the benefits from these salts, it is important to know how to use them. Here’s a list of all the different ways in which you can use bath salts.

Make your own makeshift salt bag or pouch.

A cheesecloth or any porous or loosely woven cotton material you have on hand would work best for your own salt pouch. Take about a 7 inch square of the cloth and pour a few tablespoons of bath salt in the centre of the cloth, draw the corners of the cloth together and make it into a bag by tying a piece of string around it to seal the salt. Now fill your bathtub with warm water, and drop and swirl the bag of salt into the water to dissolve the salt into your bath water. This way would ensure a better distribution of salt in the water. After your fresh bath experience rinse the bag out and dry it.

Can’t manage to get hold of a salt bag?

Don’t worry. Here’s a simple way to reap the benefits and indulge in a relaxing bathing experience without a salt pouch. Fill your bathtub halfway and just pour a few tablespoons of salts into the water. The bath salts tend to dissolve quickly with warm water, the warmer the water, the quicker the process. So you might have to pour a handful of salts in the water before you start to bathe. To mix the fragrance of salts with the steam hold some salt in your hand under the faucet and let the salts fall into the water, this is essential to leave the calming effect on your nerves and mind that you are looking for in your bath

Bath salts for other purposes:

They might be called as bath salts in the market, but these salts can be used for other skin and beauty purposes too.

1. Exfoliation: Make a paste with some fine grain salts and water and apply it on your skin for an energised experience.

2. Natural scrub:Bath salt pastes can also work as amazing natural scrubs. By adding ¼ cup of essential oil to your bath salts you can have your very own spa treatment at home.

3. Foot bath: Bath salts can also be used for a quick yet refreshing round of footbath. Add Epsom salt in half a cup of water and use it to wash your feet, your feet will start smelling fresh and would also protect your toenail from fungus.

Here’s a word of caution:

Though a warm compress of Epsom salt and water is said to do wonders for a bruise. Direct exposure to open sores on your skin might turn risky for your skin.Finally, if you are new to the world of bath salts do a quick ‘test’ by dipping your feet in the bath-salt water for a little while to be sure this isn’t something you are allergic to. Stop using the salts if you are prone to allergies.

Source: Smart Cooky | Not affiliated with Aetrex Worldwide

7 Can’t-Fail Expert Tips for Treating Dry Winter Skin

By Molly Ritterbeck

Unpredictable weather, especially dry air and freezing temps, can wreak havoc on your skin. “Our skin has natural mechanisms to maintain healthy barrier function and hydration, but those are put to the test during extreme weather in the winter,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. These seasonal stressors challenge the skin’s ability to maintain its own state of health, resulting in that dry, tight, flaky, and even itchy feeling. Ick.

But spring is right around the corner, which means relief is in sight. It also means that bare legs and sleeveless tanks are in your future. So if you’re suffering from dry skin, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few easy tips from top derms.

1. Exfoliate first.

Before you buy 27 different moisturizers for every body part, stop for a second. The first thing you need to do is gently exfoliate dry skin. “The dry, dead flakes are not going to allow any moisturizer to get in, so if you want to increase the skin’s moisture and hydration, you need to make sure there’s no impediment,” says Neal Schultz, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City and founder of BeautyRX Skincare.

Schultz recommends a chemical exfoliator over a physical one (the kind with beads or granules). If the word “chemical” freaks you out, don’t panic. “Chemical” just refers to the active acids (alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids, or retinoids) that eat away the dead skin cells in a Pac-Man fashion, and these can be found in “natural” forms, such as the lactic acid in soured milk.

For dry skin, the best vehicle for a chemical exfoliator is a cream or lotion, which does double duty by exfoliating and moisturizing. Schultz suggests one with no more than 10 percent glycolic acid, “the gold standard” for effective exfoliation. We love: BeautyRX Daily Exfoliating Body Therapy Lotion, which contains 10 percent glycolic acid (true story: We didn’t realize how well this worked until we ran out), or C.O. Bigelow Derma Remedy Intense Dry Skin Body Lotion, which contains 6 percent lactic acid.

2. Rehydrate right.

When your skin is dry (particularly in dry climates, during low-humidity winter weather, or even on an airplane), it’s in need of water—not oil. So next, you need to replenish the water content, then lock it in with oil. How the heck do you do that? Start by understanding the different kinds of moisturizers.

“There are three classes of moisturizing ingredients: humectants, which attract additional water; emollients, which seal the cracks between cells; and occlusives, which lock moisture in as an absolute stop,” Schultz explains. He recommends a moisturizer that contains humectants like glycerin or hyaluronic acid, which can hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water. Our top picks above from BeautyRX and C.O. Bigelow both contain hydrating humectants.

Once you’ve replaced the water content, there’s an optional second step. If you’re dealing with cracked skin, reach for an emollient-rich product. Look for natural lipids, like argan oil, shea butter, and ceramides, on the label. Or you can apply a protective barrier with an occlusive (think: greasy ointments like the classics Vaseline and Aquaphor) to lock in moisture.

3. Try for twice a day.

Ideally, you’d moisturize twice a day, but if that sounds ambitious (because seriously, who’s got time for that?), skip the morning. Your body undergoes normal circadian rhythms, patterns that occur morning and night, and your skin’s hydration level dips while you sleep, Zeichner says. “So one trick is to keep a moisturizer next to your bedside to make it easy to hydrate before bed,” he says. Plus, moisturizing is a much more relaxing (and beneficial) bedtime ritual than scrolling through your phone.

4. But don’t skip after a shower.

We’ll let it slide if you don’t lotion up in the morning, but you should never skip moisturizing immediately after a shower or bath. “That’s when your skin’s moisture content is highest,” Schultz says. The prime time: within five minutes of getting out. Pat (don’t rub) skin dry then apply lotion or cream generously until absorbed. Showering and moisturizing before bed will earn you bonus smooth skin points.

5. Go easy on the heat.

With that said, make sure your shower routine is a smart one. Showering too often can further exacerbate a dry skin issue. “Especially in the winter, we may enjoy long hot showers, but our skin does not,” Zeichner says. “Hot water, especially when exposed over long periods of time, can strip skin of what it needs to keep itself healthy.” He recommends opting for showers over baths, keeping them short (10 minutes or less), and using lukewarm water (about the temperature of a heated swimming pool).

6. Step away from the soap.

The one place that it’s totally acceptable—in fact, it’s advised—to be lazy: the shower! Make it quicker and easier by ditching the suds, which can be extra drying in the winter. “You actually do not need soap on your entire body,” Schultz says. “Soap removes the precious oils your skin is making to maintain its health.”

He recommends using soap as needed on your face, underarms, and personal areas, but the rest of your body (like your arms, legs, and stomach) likely doesn’t need it every day, especially if you’re clean but just sweaty after a workout. “Sweat is just water and salt that comes off with a spray of water,” Schultz says. So simply rinse and jump out to save time in the locker room.

7. Try a DIY.

Super-stressful week? Take 10 minutes to unwind and rehydrate your skin with a milk soak bath. Try this recipe from The Beauty Department:
  • Pour one half gallon of vitamin D milk into warm bath water (the lactic acid will exfoliate, while vitamins A and D soften skin).
  • Fill a fabric satchel or pouch with loose chamomile tea and tie it up tight (or use 5-10 tea bags). Let that soak in the water—it’s like a big tea bag.
  • If you’re feeling extra fancy, float a few flowers like gardenias on the surface. The steam will bring out the scent.
  • Slather your skin with your favorite moisturizer afterward.

Source: Greatist.com | Not affiliated with Aetrex Worldwide

Foot care: No pain is ‘normal’

By Bianca Bina

Feet are often given little consideration before an ache, pain or noticeable change occurs. But podiatrists warn that the overwhelming neglect of feet could cause Americans a number of serious health issues over time, particularly in seniors.

“There are so many reasons seniors need foot care,” says Dr. Shoua Lo, a podiatrist in advanced orthopedics at Altru in Grand Forks. “There’s always something that could be done better for a senior’s feet, whether it’s advising them on the type of shoes they wear or type of medication they use. Seniors are just like anybody else, but do require a little bit different care.”

As we age, circulation in the body slows, nails become brittle, there are metabolic changes and the skin is drained of moisture. It is with these changes that a focus on foot care becomes even more important, especially when pre-existing health issues are present.

Lo says seniors will become aware of a topical problem — a scratch, a bump or redness — but won’t realize there is actually an underlying issue leading to the surface problem. He says any pain or abnormality should be analyzed by a doctor.

“Seniors can tolerate a lot of pain,” he says. “They can have the pain and ignore it, or just give the pain a timeline for relief. But when you have pain in your feet, it isn’t normal. It’s a warning that you have to see somebody, at least the family doctor.”

Sometimes it’s hard for seniors to seek help, Lo says, but it’s important to see a professional at least once per year.

Problems, solutions

The activity level of seniors is not necessarily a concern with foot care, though activity does help improve circulation and manage weight. Even active seniors need to be wary of sprains, fractures and falls, and he recommends choosing comfortable, wide-toed styles of shoes that support the feet of active and inactive Americans to help prevent some of the possible issues that can come from ill-fitting footwear.

But shoes aren’t the only source of foot pain and problems. Oftentimes, there is a predisposition because of the shape of the foot and health of the person — diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, prior injury, weight gain, cellulitis, etc. — that makes orthopedic visits more necessary. TV commercials, health gurus, drug stores and even family members claim to have the answer to these problems, but when it comes down to it, doctors are the only solution to the problems.

“Bunions, fitting our feet into fashionable shoes — we get these bumps and callouses and people accept what the media or their children are telling them,” Lo says. “But some of this guidance is useless, whether it’s over-the-counter medication saying they can get rid of the toenails or corns, they actually open up another can of worms.”

Senior skin becomes thinner over the years, making it susceptible to burns and lesions when strong acidic or caustic products are applied to remove skin annoyances, such as calluses or corns. The over-the-counter products can cause further damage or infection.

“It’s a waste of money to begin with,” Lo says. “Nothing like that will ever give seniors relief from pain.”

Prevention

There are plenty of simple steps that can be taken to keep feet as healthy as possible, outside of the doctor’s office.

The most important rule: “Every one of us needs to keep our feet clean,” Lo says. Particularly for seniors, he says, soaking or washing feet at least a few times a week, but not enough to dry out the skin. Using a moisturizer after washing is key.

He also recommends cleaning under the nails, and trimming nails to an appropriate length to keep ingrown nails and bacteria at bay. Lo recommends asking a family member to maintain the feet once a week or more, because loss of eyesight and ability to reach toes often becomes a problem for seniors. If family isn’t an option, a doctor or foot care specialist should be contacted.

The Grand Forks Senior Center and the East Grand Forks Senior Center have foot care clinics available for area seniors. Appointments can be made with nurses who are equipped to handle daily upkeep and specific questions. Contact the Grand Forks Senior Center at 701-772-7245 or the East Grand Forks Senior Center at 218-773-0821 for more information.

Having a family member, doctor or specialist conduct a review of the feet will help in the early detection of issues, including the presence of scabs, scratches, discoloration or infection.

Lo says foot care is nothing to put at the bottom of a to-do list. If there’s a change in the foot, a new pain or discoloration, at least make an appointment with a primary care doctor.

“Things out of the ordinary? Look for help,” he says. “Pain is pain.”

Feet facts

  • 75 percent of Americans experience serious foot problems
  • All foot pain is considered a health concern
  • Women have about four times as many foot problems as men
  • Neglect, ill-fitting shoes and improper care cause most feet problems
  • Income and foot health are directly related; increased income decreases foot issues
  • About 5 percent of Americans visit a podiatric physician each year
  • About 19 percent of Americans have an average of 1.4 foot problems each year
  • Feet have 25 percent of all bones in the body
  • Walking is the best exercise for feet to improve circulation and control weight
  • Feet mirror general health, so minor aches and pains could be a sign of other health issues

Source: Grand Forks Herald | Not Affiliated with Aetrex Worldwide

5 top foods for optimal heart health

By Melissa Breyer

A new report written by 12 cardiovascular researchers for the nonprofit Physicians Committee recommends – wait for it – whole food, plant-based eating patterns for optimal heart health. Surprise!

Heart disease is the number one cause of death across the globe. Around 800,000 Americans die from cardiovascular disease each year, and almost half of Americans have at least one controllable risk factor, including blood pressure and cholesterol. It’s actually an issue that concerns us all in terms of economics: By 2030, annual direct medical costs associated with cardiovascular diseases are projected to rise to more than $818 billion, while lost productivity costs could exceed $275 billion, according to the CDC Foundation.

With this in mind, the team analyzed the latest research behind popular food trends to create “an evidence-based prescription to provide clinicians with a quick guide to relay to patients in a clinical setting.”

Here is what they recommend

1. Olive oil
2. Blueberries and strawberries
3. 30 grams of nuts daily
4. Leafy green vegetables
5. Plant-based protein (like lentils and beans)

The researchers praise these items for supporting cardiovascular function, noting that, when consumed whole (as opposed to in juices or supplements) they, “combine into a plant-based dietary pattern that lowers blood pressure, stabilizes blood sugar, and breaks down arterial plaque, the early formation of atherosclerosis.”

The only caveats of the five above are that nuts should be limited to 30 grams per day because of their high caloric value. 30 grams of nuts looks like this:

Almonds: 20 – 24
Brazil nuts: 6 – 8
Pecans: 18 – 20 (halves)
Cashews: 16 – 18

Likewise, healthy oils offer great sources of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, but should also be used in moderation with their high calories in mind.

On the no-no list

1. Coconut and palm oil
2. Eggs
3. Juice without pulp
4. Southern diets

While I continue to hear mixed message on eggs, these researchers gives them a no. (For the record, I happen to be on Team Yes-To-Eggs, as long at the hens are kept 100 percent humanely…) Juice without pulp gets the ax for its concentration of calories and lack of fiber compared to whole fruit. And the Southern diet speaks for itself … it says added fats, fried foods, organ and processed meats, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

And then there’s the middle-of-the-road inconclusive list, which is interesting for its inclusion of four items touted by their enthusiasts for their purported health benefits.

The murky maybe-ok-maybe-not list

1. Virgin coconut oil
2. High dose antioxidant supplements
3. Juice with pulp
4. Gluten-containing foods (for people without gluten-related disease)

 

“In addition to eating colorful, plant-based foods, it’s important to make time for sleep, exercise, and stress management, which could come in the form of social support or even listening to music,” says nutrition researcher Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C., president and founder of the nonprofit Physicians Committee and one of study’s authors. “Diet comes first, but what we eat should fuel a healthy lifestyle.”

OK, no surprises here at all. More fruits and vegetables, more sleep and exercise, less fried foods and organ meats. But with cardiovascular disease skyrocketing, maybe we can’t be reminded enough.

 

Source: Treehugger.com | Not affiliated with Aetrex Worldwide

Is it Normal That My Second Toe is Longer Than My Big Toe?

When I was in college, I remember having a discussion about toe lengths with my roommates because both of them had second toes that were longer than their big toes. They both insisted that I was in the minority because their toes were both the same. Of course, I decided I had to research this topic so we could determine who was right. Turns out, I was right! They have a condition called Morton’s Toe. Morton’s Toe is a common forefoot disorder where the second toe is longer than the Big Toe (the Hallux).

Morton’s toe leads to excessive pressure on the second metatarsal head (behind the second toe at the ball-of-the-foot) resulting in pain similar to the discomfort associated with metatarsalgia. The constant pressure placed on the longer second toe while walking or standing can lead to callus formation under the second metatarsal head due to this excessive pressure.

Proper treatment of Morton’s Toe starts with selecting proper footwear. Footwear with a high and wide toe box (toe area) is ideal for treating this condition. It may be necessary to buy footwear a half size to a size larger to accommodate the longer second toe. Orthotics that feature arch support to keep the foot aligned, and a metatarsal pad to reduce stress on the ball-of-the-foot are often recommended when treating this condition. Proper footwear combined with a effective orthotic will provide relief from pain associated with Morton’s Toe.

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Buy Men’s Casual Slip-ons with high toe-boxes: Here

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Buy Women’s Slip-ons with high toe-boxes: Here

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Buy Lynco Men’s orthotics: Here

DISCLAIMER:  The information contained on this site is not provided by medical professionals and is provided for informational purposes only.  The information on this site is not meant to substitute consulting with your podiatrist, doctor or other health care professional. The information available on or through this site is in no way intended to diagnose, influence treatment or cure any foot or other health problems nor is it a substitute for the services or advice of a podiatrist, physician, or health professional.  You should always consult a physician licensed in your state in all matters relating to your health.