Tips for carefree summer travel with Psoriasis

Terry Patterson enjoys another adventure - rappelling in Mexico

Terry Patterson enjoys another adventure – rappelling in Mexico

Summer means warm weather, long days and leisurely vacations. But for those who struggle with psoriasis, a chronic skin condition which causes itchy, painful scaling of the skin, summer travels require extra planning and preparation.

Terry Patterson was 22 when he travelled to Indonesia and came back with a small patch on his forehead. He wasn’t sure how he got the patch thinking that it was a bite, an infection or an allergic reaction. The patch didn’t go away and within a year spread throughout his body. Patterson consulted a doctor who diagnosed him with psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune condition that affects 1 million Canadians and 80 million people worldwide.

“Psoriasis impacts all aspects of my life, including my travels. When a person visits a foreign land it is natural to feel a little isolated – that feeling is intensified if you have psoriasis because people stare and avoid you because they think you have a contagious disease. ” states Patterson.

Psoriasis is much more than just a skin condition affecting a person’s physical and psychological well-being. A common challenge people with psoriasis face when travelling is the embarrassment of having to interact with others who may think they have a contagious skin disease. Such misconceptions have lead psoriasis sufferers to withdraw from the public space to hide their condition from others.

Patterson eventually found a treatment that helped him alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis. Summer vacations are something that Patterson now looks forward to and even feels comfortable lying shirtless on the beach. He encourages those living with psoriasis to keep searching for a treatment that works for them. Patterson offers the following tips for smooth travel and smooth skin:

• Prepare your skin in advance. Soak in the bath tub to help soothe itchy spots and remove dry skin. Pamper and moisturize your skin before the trip.

• Beat the dry air. Confined spaces such as planes, cars and trains have very dry air which can leave your skin dry, itchy and dehydrated. Drink plenty of water and keep your skin moisturized with creams and ointments to reduce itching and prevent psoriasis flare-ups.

• Wear light fabrics and colours. Dress comfortably by wearing light fabrics such as cotton and avoid fitted clothing that doesn’t let your skin breath. Wearing light colours also helps hide flaked-off skin.

• Wear sunscreen. Sunscreen helps protect the skin from getting sunburned which can cause psoriasis flare-ups. Make sure to pack a sunscreen that works for your skin.

• Stick with your skin-care routine. Make sure to keep up your daily skin care.

Lastly, don’t let the appearance of your skin spoil your trip. Focus on the positives, spending time with your family and friends in a beautiful place. Relax and de-stress, and your vacation might not only be better, your skin might improve too.


Keep your swimming pool water clean and clear


It’s that time of year again to fill up the pool and make a splash. But did you know that even clear pool water can harbour disease-causing bacteria and viruses?

Good sanitation reduces the number of microorganisms to safe levels and keeps algae in check. This means testing the water daily and keeping the proper level of sanitizer in the water. This applies to all types of pools and spas, even inflatable and kiddie pools and saltwater pools.

Traditional pools are sanitized using chlorine- or bromine-based chemicals in granules, puck, tablet or liquid form, sometimes used with a dispenser. Saltwater pools rely on chlorine- or bromine-generating devices. Both the chemicals and the devices are also effective at controlling algae.

Although using a sanitizer regularly should prevent the excessive growth of algae, the more the sanitizer is used up to control algae, the less sanitizer there is left to control harmful micro-organisms. To tackle an algae problem, you may also need an algicide like a copper sulphate-based or a quaternary ammonium-based product.

Chemicals and devices that are used to control disease-causing organisms and algae in pool water are registered or scheduled by Health Canada. Look for the five-digit PCPA registration number on the front of the package or the mention “Scheduled under the Pest Control Products Act”. This is your assurance that Health Canada scientists have assessed any health hazards associated with using the product, and determined that it works.

General safety tips for using pool chemicals:

. Make sure to always read and follow the label directions. Instructions for devices that generate or dispense sanitizer can be found in the user’s manual, on the package, and on the device itself.

. Never smoke, drink or eat while using pool chemicals, and never mix pool chemicals together.

. Always store pool chemicals in their original containers out of reach of children and pets and away from food and beverages.

.Never use contents of an unlabeled container, and throw out unused or partially used product at provincial and municipal household hazardous waste disposal sites.

More information is available toll-free at 1-800-267-6315, or through e-mail at

Stay on your brand name medication but pay generic prices

Pay generic prices for brand name medications!

Pay generic prices for brand name medications!

It happens more often than you think. Your doctor writes a prescription for a brand name medication, but when you take it to the pharmacy, you’re sometimes given another pill with a different name in an effort to save you money. But what if you want to stay on your brand name medication? Is it really going to cost you more? Many Canadians have benefited from a program allowing them to choose to remain on their brand name medicines at generic prices.

Last year, Canadians who used RxHelp Patient Choice cards to purchase their brand name medicines saved $50 million. More than 1.2 million prescriptions were filled using these cards – a new tool that allows you to choose to remain on your brand name medicines while paying lower generic prices.

These cards are available for Canadians who require medicine for chronic conditions, such as high cholesterol, arrhythmia (irregular heart rhythm), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, Parkinson’s disease, asthma and migraines, as well as, for anyone who requires monthly medicine for family planning.

“Consistency in medication is very important to achieving results,” says Dr. Anu Poldes, a family physician in Toronto. “Active ingredients, dyes and other inert materials can vary slightly from one manufacturer to another and some patients are sensitive to such variations. Staying on the same brand removes this risk.”

All you need to do is take a valid prescription from your doctor, present it to your pharmacist along with a RxHelp Patient Choice card and ask for your brand name medicine to be dispensed. Cards can be used at any Canadian pharmacy and can be downloaded to a smart phone, or printed as a PDF from They can also be ordered by calling 1-866-RxHelp4 (1-866-794-3574). Cards are free of charge; there are no hidden fees, no monthly charges and patient privacy is protected.

Do you really need pet insurance?

Does your Fido need pet insurance?

Does your Fido need pet insurance?

We’ve heard the story — the family pet gets sick or in an accident and suddenly the owner is rushing to the emergency animal hospital. The good news is that veterinary care has come a long way in recent years. The bad news is that the cost has risen with the new diagnostic tools, drugs and treatment options. There are over 14 million cats and dogs, all of which will get sick or hurt at some point in their lives. But despite the advances in veterinary care and the rising cost of treatment, fewer than 140,000 are covered by pet health insurance.

Glenn Williams, President and CEO of Western Financial Insurance Company, the largest and oldest Canadian insurance company to focus solely on pet health insurance, believes that number could grow significantly as more Canadians recognize the obvious benefits of insuring their animals.

“Many European countries have had pet insurance for decades and the penetration rates are way above those in North America,” he says. “In Sweden for example, about 55 per cent of dog and cat owners have pet insurance. In the U.K., it’s about 25 per cent.”

So why is the popularity of pet health insurance so far behind in Canada the U.K.? According to Williams, a big part of the reason is product awareness. In Britain, pet insurance has been offered since the 1940s and is widely advertised by the major insurance companies. In North America, the first pet insurance policy was issued in 1982 to cover television’s canine star, Lassie.

Even when there is a substantial amount saved, what is the likelihood it will remain untouched if your car breaks down or you have other big expenses. Williams says that pet health insurance is generally about $10 per week, but given the cost of veterinary care, it is a good investment. Premiums can vary greatly depending on the following:

• Type of pet: Dogs cost more than cats because they have more health problems and are more likely to get into accidents.

• The size and breed of the dog: Bigger dogs generally have more health problems, and some breeds are susceptible to specific ailments, such as hip problems in German Shepherds and other large breeds.

• Location: Veterinarians and animal hospitals in downtown areas of large cities like Toronto, Montreal and Calgary generally charge much more than those in smaller or rural communities. Not surprisingly, the premiums reflect the higher costs.

• Coverages: These vary greatly and include accidents, illness, tests and medication, and even preventive and dental care. Obviously the more extensive the coverage, the higher the premium

What do you think about pet insurance for your feline of canine friend?

Want a 30 day FREE trial of pet insurance from Trupanion? In the Toronto area? Contact VetsToronto to obtain your complimentary certificate.

Trupanion is Canada’s fastest growing provider of pet insurance for dogs and cats. Founded in 1999 as Vetinsurance in Vancouver, B.C., founder and CEO Darryl Rawlings renamed the company Trupanion as he expanded internationally. Today, Trupanion has the honour of being North America’s #1 rated pet insurance company[1].

With recent advancements in animal healthcare, veterinarians across Canada are now able to offer treatments for health conditions that were previously unavailable to most pets. These medical advancements allow pet owners the ability to provide the very best care for their beloved pets. But the cost of care often exceeds the family budget. Luckily, Trupanion provides affordable life-long coverage for cats and dogs who enroll between the ages of eight weeks and 14 years of age.


Taste the tropics on a hot day

Taste the tropics on a hot day!

Taste the tropics on a hot day!

(NC)—Canadian summer heat can reach tropical heights, so why not take the whole family on an easy island getaway with a Tropical Citrus Granita? Much less expensive and labour intensive than an actual trip down south, this fun mango and coconut frozen delight – developed by Minute Maid in partnership with the Canadian Living Test kitchen – will make everyone smile on a hot day. If you enjoy this creation, check out other summertime-inspired recipes at

Tropical Citrus Granita

Makes 6 servings

1 can Mango Punch frozen concentrate, mixed with 2 cans water

2-200mL tetra boxes of Tropical Orange 100% Juice.

Coconut Cream

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup water

1 ¼ cups coconut water

1 cup canned coconut cream

Stir together the orange juice, mango punch and water. Pour into large shallow glass baking dish.

In small saucepan (or a small microwave bowl) heat water with sugar until dissolved. Whisk together with coconut water and coconut cream. Pour into shallow glass baking dish.

Place both dishes in the freezer for 2 hours. Remove from freezer, scrape edges and mix with a fork. Return to freezer, scraping every hour until no liquid remains, 6-7 hours total. Layer fruit granita on bottom of glass, followed by coconut mixture, and another layer of fruit granita on top. Garnish with tropical fruit.

Per approx. 1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) serving: about 267 cal, 2 g pro, 9 g total fat (8 g sat. fat), 48 g carb (2 g dietary fibre, 45 g sugar), 0 mg chol, 91 mg sodium, 262 mg potassium. % RDI: 1% calcium, 3% iron, 115% vit C, 4% folate.

New diagnostic tool detects skin cancer immediately

Canadian-made Verisante Aura improves the chances of early skin cancer detection.

Canadian-made Verisante Aura improves the chances of early skin cancer detection.


(NC)—With over 1,000 moles covering her body, Kim Ellis’ chance for early detection of melanoma is similar to finding a needle in a haystack on first glance. However, advances in medical technology have turned what was once a subjective “eyeball” evaluation into an objective, potentially life-saving scan.



In contrast to the standard and somewhat subjective visual inspection of moles by a dermatologist, the made-in-Canada Verisante Aura ( diagnostic device uses a light ray to help medical professionals make a biopsy decision in under a second.

Ellis recently had a scan by the device, which flagged a very subtle rose-coloured blemish for further investigation. What would have normally been bypassed was biopsied and found to be malignant. Ellis is soon to have the full lesion area removed.

“My skin lesion was barely visible,” she says. “My doctors and I have to keep a vigilant watch to be sure other malignancies don’t pop up. This new tool that quickly scans might have saved my life had the lesion been diagnosed as melanoma and could save more lives.”

This new technology, which is now in use at clinics across Canada, was developed in partnership between the BC Cancer Agency, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, and the University of British Columbia over a 10-year period. Testing for the device took place at the Skin Care Centre at Vancouver General Hospital over a six-year clinical study. The results published last year in a peer-reviewed journal showed a significant advancement over current clinical diagnosis, demonstrating that the tool has a 99 per cent success rate of finding skin cancer.

According to the Canadian Dermatology Association, skin cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in this country. It’s estimated that one in six Canadians will develop it during their lifetime.

“Early detection is key and underlines the need for technology that can screen for skin cancer quickly and accurately,” says Annette Cyr, the chair at Melanoma Network of Canada. Patients have a 99 per cent chance of survival when melanoma is diagnosed early; in late stages, it falls to 15 per cent.

“Aura represents a new paradigm in skin cancer detection,” she continues. “It is the first available device that takes an objective measurement almost immediately, significantly improving the chances of early detection and better health outcomes for patients.”

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