Melanoma – Some Advice from Family Nurse Practioner Students

Protect your skin from the sun

ABCD pattern:  A - Asymmetrical

ABCD pattern:  B - Irregular Borders

ABCD pattern:  C - multi-colored

ABCD pattern:  D - diameter

Ohio State Family Nurse Practitioner Students Promote Melanoma Awareness:

According to the CDC, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. If diagnosed and treated early, skin cancer is very curable. Unfortunately, if skin cancer is not diagnosed until later stages, it can result in disfigurement and even death. Each year over 60,000 Americans are diagnosed with melanomas of the skin.  Please be aware of the amount of sun exposure you receive this year. You can help prevent skin cancer and still have fun in the sun outdoors by protecting your skin. Protection includes seeking shade, applying sunscreen, and wearing protecting clothing, hat and sunglasses. Remember the amount of sun exposure you get in your youth directly impacts your risk for skin cancer later in life.

The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you perform a full body skin exam on yourself once a month and that you have one done by your doctor/dermatologist once a year. Schedule an appointment with your doctor/dermatologist if you notice any mole or skin changes following the ABCD pattern of melanoma.

For additional information, please visit

Submitted by Ohio State Family Nurse Practitioner Students:  Jennifer Ashton, Shannon Brown, Christopher Daughtery, and Amanda Warner

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Reviewed by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Photo Credit:

Yoga As You Are

Health benefits of yoga.

As I was reading through the RPAC news this week, I came across the following blurb. 

Yoga As You Are 2014
Whether you’re in work clothes, school clothes or workout gear, come to Yoga As You Are, held  Wednesdays, from 12:45 – 1:15 p.m. in Dance Room 1 at the Ohio Union. Classes go through Wednesday, April 23. Sticky mats are provided, but feel free to bring your own.

Now, to be honest, I have not done much yoga.  It sounds very zen and all and I expect that it is very good for me, but just not something that I’ve gotten into. Probably that’s because I’ve always harbored fears that I’ll either  1. fall asleep while meditating or 2. Get stuck in one of those pretzel -type poses they do.

But, being one to keep an open mind, when I saw the blurb above, I did a bit of research to try and find out what sorts of health benefits yoga offers.  Here is what I found:

  • Increase Flexibility: One study showed that after just 8 weeks of yoga participants improved their flexibility by up to 35%.
  • Boost Immunity: A Norwegian study found that yoga boosts immunity at the cellular level. They found that these changes occur while still on the mat – much more so than a control group that went on a nature hike while listening to soothing music.
  • Ease Migraines: Research shows that after just 3 months of yoga practice, migraine suffers can expect fewer and less painful migraines.
  • Better Sleep: A Harvard Study found that 8 weeks of daily yoga significantly improved sleep quality for people with insomnia.
  • Fight Food Cravings: Researchers from the University of Washington found that regular yoga practice strengthens the mind-body connection which in turn helps you to tune in to the emotions associated with certain cravings.

Some pretty impressive benefits.  Perhaps I’ll head over the Union this week and give that yoga class a try.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

Information above found at the following sites:

Sympathy yawns – from your dog?!!

Dogs show empathy through yawning.

Ok – so we’ve all experienced it.  You see someone yawn and before you know it you’re yawning too.  You’re not tired, you’re not bored, but there you are yawning anyway.  We all do it, but to be quite honest there’s no clear reason as to why.  What happens during a yawn is known:

  • Your mouth opens, your jaw drops, opening your airway.
  • You inhale and air is taken in.
  • Your abdominal muscles flex and your diaphragm is pushed down.
  • Your lungs fill to capacity and then some of the air is blown back out.

Some argue that the whole point of all this action has to have something to do with our bodies and that something is to cool down our brains.  Others believe the yawn to be more of a social thing, indicating that we are experiencing something unpleasant, AKA boring, but not threatening. 

Regardless of the reason, a recent study has found that the contagious yawn is not limited to just humans.  The study was conducted in Japan on two dozen breeds of dogs, ranging from poodles to pit bulls.  They had both strangers and owners yawn in front of the dogs and discovered that the dogs were far more likely to yawn in response to their owner than the stranger.  Fake yawns didn’t fool Fido.  The dogs could discern between a genuine yawn and one that was contrived. 

Lest you are thinking that this is not a study to be taken seriously, the researchers had the dogs and humans wear heart rate monitors in order to eliminate stress as the trigger.  The findings were that stress was not involved causing them to draw the conclusion that empathy and emotional proximity were the more likely factors.

So give old Fido a bone today. He deserves it for being so empathetic.

Submitted by Tina Comston, M.Ed.

For more information:

You Got What!?! Mumps!?!

Stay home for 5 days after symptoms.

Columbus Public Health is currently working closely with the medical staff at Ohio State’s Office of Student Life to investigate a mumps outbreak among students.

Mumps is a viral illness that can cause fever, body aches, headaches, fatigue, swelling of the salivary glands or pain with chewing or swallowing. About a third of people who contract the mumps virus do not develop any symptoms.

How does the mumps virus spread?

Mumps is most commonly spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and a non-infected person inhales respiratory droplets that contain the virus.

How soon after infection do symptoms occur?

Symptoms usually occur 14 to 18 days after infection. The time between infection and illness can be as short as 12 days or as long as 25 days.

When can mumps be spread?

People with mumps are usually contagious from two days before to five days after they develop symptoms. A person is most contagious just before symptoms appear.

How can a person with mumps avoid spreading it to others?

  • Stay at home for five days after symptoms (salivary gland swelling) begin (required by Ohio law OAC 3701-3-13, (P)); avoid school, work, social gatherings, and other public settings.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand cleaner.
  • Do not share eating utensils, cups, straws, or tissues.

Is there a vaccine to prevent?

Yes, the mumps vaccine is given on or after a child’s first birthday. In the United States, it is usually combined with measles and rubella vaccines, together known as MMR (measles, mumps and rubella). A second dose of mumps vaccine is recommended before children enter school (when they are four to six years old.) People who receive two doses of mumps vaccine are much less likely to develop mumps than those who have one dose or none.

Can people who have been vaccinated still get mumps?

Yes, for every 100 people vaccinated, 80 to 90 of them will be fully protected, but 10 to 20 are at risk for the disease. Though mumps vaccination cannot protect everyone, the vaccine greatly lowers the number of people who get sick when exposed to the virus. If a community maintains a high vaccination rate, the risk of exposure declines too. And while vaccination cannot protect everyone from developing mumps, people who get mumps following vaccination are at lower risk of problems.

What should I do if I attend The Ohio State University and think I was exposed to mumps?

If you are exposed to mumps and have been vaccinated, you are less likely to develop the disease. If you did not get the vaccine or only got one dose, there is no treatment to prevent infection. However, we would recommend that you get a 2nd dose or begin the vaccine series as this may lessen the severity of illness or decrease the spread to others on campus. The vaccine is available through Student Life Student Health Services. Call 292-4321 to schedule an appointment.

If you develop symptoms of mumps, please stay home from work, school, sports and all public gatherings for five days after symptoms start. You should seek medical care to be properly diagnosed. You can schedule an appointment with Student Life’s Student Health Services by phone at 292-4321 or via their website, or after hours you can go to Ohio State’s urgent care center at the Martha Morehouse Medical Plaza, 2050 Kenny Road, Suite 2400.

Faculty and staff with mumps symptoms should contact their private health care providers.

Have mumps outbreaks occurred in vaccinated people before?

Yes, in 2006 there was an outbreak of mumps in the Midwestern United States. The outbreak was mainly among college students who had already been vaccinated. There was an outbreak of mumps in 2009-2010, mostly among school-aged children who had been vaccinated in New York City. Also, as recent as February of this year, Fordham University in New York experienced an outbreak amongst its student community.

What problems can mumps cause?

  • The vast majority of mumps cases do not lead to serious complications.
  • The mumps virus can cause inflammation of the central nervous system, but the resulting illness (viral meningitis) is usually not serious. Headache and stiff neck may occur in up to 15% of people with mumps.
  • Males who are past puberty may experience orchitis, or testicular inflammation. It causes pain, swelling, nausea, vomiting and fever. The affected area may remain tender for weeks. Approximately half of patients with orchitis experience some atrophy of the testicles, but they rarely lose the ability to produce sperm.
  • Some women may experience inflammation of the ovaries or breasts from mumps.
  • Deafness, in one or both ears, occurs in approximately one person out of 20,000 who develops mumps.

Where can I get more information about mumps and mumps vaccine?

Information provided courtesy of Ohio State Student Life Student Health Services, Columbus Public Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Fordham University.

Repost of

Doodie in the Pool!

In this well-known scene from Caddy Shack, panic ensues when “doodie” is found in the pool.   While the movie is all in good fun, there’s actually some truth in there as well.  Crypto, AKA Cryptosporidium, is a microscopic parasite that can affect both humans and animals.  It lives in the intestines and is passed in the stool of an infected person or animal.  The most common means of transfer – water.  It is actually one of the most common causes of waterborne disease, both through recreational water such as swimming pools or lakes, and drinking water.  This parasite is very resilient and has a hard outer shell which allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and also makes it resistant to chlorine.

Those most at risk for contracting crypto are:

  • Children who attend day care centers
  • Child care workers
  • International travelers
  • Backpackers, hikers, and campers who drink unfiltered, untreated water
  • People, including swimmers, who swallow water from contaminated sources
  • People who handle infected cattle
  • People exposed to human feces through sexual contact

The most common symptom of crypto is watery diarrhea.  Other symptoms include:

  • Stomach cramps or pain
  • Dehydration
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Weight loss

If you become infected with crypto, you can expect the symptoms to appear in 2-10 days.  They will usually last about 1-2 weeks and may go in cycles where you seem to get better and then feel worse before the illness ends.  Most people with a healthy immune system recover without treatment.  An over the counter anti-diarrheal medicine can help and it’s important to drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.

Crypto is very contagious. The following steps should be taken by those infected with Crypto to avoid spreading the disease to others:

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, especially after changing diapers, using the toilet, and before eating or preparing food.
  • For at least 2 weeks after the diarrhea has stopped, do not swim in recreational water. You can contaminate water for several weeks after the symptoms have ended.
  • Avoid sexual practices, such as oral-anal contact, that bring you in contact with fecal matter.
  • Avoid contact with people who have a weakened immune system.
  • Do not put children who have Crypto in a child care setting until the diarrhea has ended.

If you suspect you have crypto, or your symptoms are not improving, schedule an appointment at Student Health Services or with your health care provider. 

In the meantime – if you see “doodie” in the pool, play out that scene in Caddy Shack and get out of the water ASAP!!

You can read more about Crypto at the CDC website:

Submitted by Tina Comston

Reviewed by Dr. Ryan Hanson

Spring Break – Feeling the Burn


And more sunscreen!!


If you are fortunate, you will be leaving Ohio soon to travel to a warmer (and sunnier) destination down south. After spending months hibernating in your room from the dreary winter weather, sunscreen is the last thing on your mind. Without fail, you head out to the beach or pool the instant you arrive and are lucky if you remember to grab your towel. Upon returning to your room hours later, you notice a distinct reddening of your skin and feel the heat radiating from the area. Because it’s the first day of your trip, you panic and wonder what can be done to minimize the pain and redness; a bright red face wasn’t the look you were going for on spring break.

Though time is the best component of the healing process, there are a few things you can do to minimize the pain and help the healing along. First of all, an over-the-counter pain medication such as Motrin (ibuprofen) or Tylenol (acetaminophen) will help decrease overall pain, redness, and swelling. As for topical relief, you may want to try cool compresses or aloe to soothe the stinging. Additionally, it is important to stay hydrated (with a bottle of water, not a bottle of another favorite spring break beverage) because the burn tends to draw fluids out of the skin and make you more dehydrated. Keep in mind that alcohol also dehydrates your body, which is why we don’t recommend trying to hydrate with it. Moisturize your skin with lotion or cream to decrease the look of peeling and flaking skin (using a product with Vitamin C or E may have additional healing benefit). Calamine lotion or Benadryl (diphenhydramine) may help reduce itching.

If the sunburn has caused nausea, vomiting, blistering, heat stroke, or confusion it is best to seek medical attention. Stay away from products containing benzocaine or lidocaine because they may cause further irritation to your skin. Also avoid products containing petroleum (i.e. Vaseline) because this may trap the heat. To prevent further burning of your skin (more redness, more pain) stay indoors or if you just can’t stay away from the sun, wear clothing that will cover the area and slather on that sunscreen that was wedged into the bottom of your suitcase.

Some medications may cause you to burn more easily. Check out this past blog post if you think your medication might be one of them.

Of course, the best way to treat a sunburn is to not get one in the first place.  Check out this past blog post for tips on prevention.

Submitted by Emily Burns, PharmD Candidate 2014

Reviewed by Jason Goodman, PharmD, RPh