Avoid These Common Summer Health Hazards!

Summer is here and everyone is beginning to loosen up and get ready for summer fun. But just because summer is here doesn’t mean you can be totally carefree! We don’t want to be a buzzkill, but, while there is tons of enjoyment to be had in the summer, there are also plenty of health risks out there that you need to be prepared for, especially as the milder days of June give way to the more scorching months ahead. But never fear! Knowledge is power, and being aware of the risks out there – and how to avoid or deal with them – will mean that you’re ready to have some serious and healthy fun this summer. 

Sunburn and Sun Damage

Maybe you already know some of the risks of sunburn: it’s painful and itchy, can cause sun damage that ages your skin with wrinkles, fine lines and sun spots, and can lead to more serious issues like melanoma and other skin cancers. The last risk is real and very worrying: your risk for melanoma doubles if you’ve had just five sunburns in your life.

Unfortunately, we don’t seem to be changing our behavior when it comes to sun exposure: in fact, the percentage of adults nationwide who got at least one sunburn during the previous year has risen from 31.8% to 33.7% in the last few decades. The solution is simple, even if it means a few extra minutes of getting ready before heading outside: make putting on sunscreen that protects against UVB and UVA rays (preferably a healthier, reef-safe choice) a daily habit, whatever the weather. And if you’re going to be outside for a longer period of time, remember to reapply often (as least every 2 hours depending on what you’re doing). In addition, consider wearing a wide-brimmed hat and/or clothes that cover as much as possible and limiting your time in the blistering midday sun.woman sitting outside on the beach tanningWhat to do if you do end up with a nasty sunburn? 

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Soak the burn in cool water, or apply a cool, damp cloth
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever
  • Treat it with an anti-itch cream or spray
  • Apply aloe vera gel or cream, or an antibiotic cream for more severe burns

Eye Damage 

Your skin isn’t the only part of your body that can take a hit during the sunny summer months: your eyes can easily become damaged by the bright sunlight. Be sure to wear sunglasses that specifically protect against UV rays, otherwise you could actually be doing more harm than good. Sunglasses that don’t block UV rays open up your pupils by making things darker, which actually lets in more UV rays, not less. Hey, take this as an excuse to pick up some stylish shades – just be sure your sunglasses filter out 100% of UV light!


Feeling thirsty? Don’t ignore that feeling in the scorching summer months; in fact, don’t wait until you’re feeling parched to start rehydrating, because it could be too late! Dehydration can be a real problem in the summer, especially if you’re enjoying some summer cocktails, engaging in outdoor sports, or even just lounging outside for prolonged periods in the hot sun. Signs of dehydration to look out for include:

picture of dry lips
Dry mouth or lips are a sign of dehydration.
  • Feeling thirsty
  • Dry mouth, lips, and/or eyes
  • Dark yellow, strong-smelling pee
  • Feeling tired
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Muscle cramps
  • As dehydration becomes more severe, your eyes might stop making tears, you might stop sweating, and you might feel nauseous and vomit

The solution is to simply drink more water or other fluids, preferable those without any sugar in them. If you plan on lounging or sweating outside, aim to drink 16 ounces of water every hour, and try to keep strenuous activity to a minimum between the hours of 12pm and 3pm, when the sun is the strongest.


All of that lush greenery around during summer is beautiful, but some of it can spell major trouble for your skin. Plants like poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac can cause terrible, itchy rashes, so if you’re the outdoorsy type and are planning on doing things like camping or hiking, make sure you know what all of these plants look like. Knowledge is your first defense; your next defense should be to shower thoroughly after yard work, hiking, camping, or doing other outdoor activities. Finally, always keep a bottle of calamine lotion on hand to combat any itchy rashes that pop up!

Rashes caused by plant life aren’t the only summer skin woe: all that summer sweat could land you with a case of heat rash, or prickly heat. This red, bumpy rash is caused by blocked sweat ducts, and can become dry, itchy, irritated and downright uncomfortable. To prevent heat rash:

  • Wear loose clothing made from breathable fabrics like cotton
  • Avoid exercising in excessively hot, humid conditions
  • Take time out to relax in some air conditioning, or in front of a fan
  • Shower often to prevent sweat glands from becoming clogged

Food Poisoningcaucasian woman with a gray shirt and jeans holding her stomach in pain

Ants aren’t the only thing that can ruin a lovely summer picnic – food that’s been improperly handled could lead to a nasty bout of food poisoning. Each year, 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) contract food poisoning, with the illness peaking in the summer months. According to Ryan Stanton, MD, an emergency room physician in Kentucky, “Anything that has mayonnaise, dairy, or eggs in it and any meat products can develop some pretty nasty bacteria after only a couple of hours unrefrigerated,” says Stanton. “Every summer we’ll have five or six people coming in from the same reunion or family picnic with food poisoning symptoms.”

To keep the tummy troubles away:

  • Chill out – If you’re bringing along anything that needs to be refrigerated, pack it at the last minute, and once you head out, keep it in a cooler with plenty of ice. 
  • Pack it properly – Not only should perishable foods be packed with ice, but they should also be packed in order of when you’re going to eat them – use the “last in, first out” rule! In addition, if you’re bringing along any meats, make sure to wrap them securely so that the juices don’t contaminate other foods.
  • Take the temperature – If you’re grilling at your picnic, make sure you bring along a meat thermometer to check that those foods that look perfectly grilled are actually cooked all the way through. Remember, steaks should be cooked to a minimum of 145 degrees F, ground beef to 160 and poultry to 165.

And if you do eat the dreaded spoiled deviled egg? As long as your symptoms are mild and you feel better after a day or two, you can treat your food poisoning at home with a bland diet, plenty of fluids, and rest. If symptoms are more severe, or last for several days (or more than 24 hours for kids), see your doctor.

Insect Bites

The warm, lazy days of summer don’t just bring out hordes of people – they also bring out all the insects. Coming in contact with them can be annoying, painful, or downright dangerous. For example, for some people, bee stings hurt, and for others (3 in every 100 people), they can cause serious allergic reactions. Other insects, such as mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks can carry diseases like West Nile virus, Dengue fever, and Lyme disease. In fact, according to the CDC, disease cases from ticks, mosquitoes, and fleas more than tripled in the U.S. from 2004 to 2016. To prevent stings and bites:

  • Apply insect repellent before heading out
  • Cover up as much as possible
  • Avoid heavy perfumes and scents, which attract stinging insects
  • Wear light colored clothing, as dark-colored and floral-patterned clothing attracts stinging insects. In addition, wearing light colored clothing makes it easier to see ticks before they latch on.
  • Tuck in clothing to make it more difficult for insects like ticks to bite
  • Check thoroughly for ticks after spending time outdoors – the longer the tick is attached, the greater the risk of disease.

Heatstroke and Heat Exhaustion

the back of someone sitting down with a blue shirt on soaked in sweat
Heavy sweating is a warning sign of heat exhaustion.

Did you know that, according to the CDC, extreme heat sends an average of 65,000 Americans to emergency rooms every year? Heat exhaustion and heatstroke (the more severe and dangerous of the two) can occur when your body is unable to cool itself down after prolonged exposure to the heat, such as when you’re working or exercising outdoors. As with dehydration prevention, to avoid heat exhaustion, you should always take breaks in the shade or AC and limit outdoor exercise at the hottest times of the day. It’s also important to know the signs:

  • A body temperature of 103 degrees F or higher
  • Hot, red, dry, or damp skin
  • A fast pulse
  • Headache, dizziness, or confusion
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Heavy sweating
  • Cold, pale, clammy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle cramps

Now that it’s finally summer, we hope you’ll get out there and enjoy yourselves! Barbecues, roaring campfires, days by the pool – however you do it, make the most of it, but do it safely!

How to Identify Melanoma & How Much Does Medicare Cover

May is National Melanoma Skin Cancer Awareness Month, so there is no better time to shine a light on this type of cancer, including how to identify it, and how to protect yourself. Melanoma, the deadliest of skin cancers, is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the United States. Detecting melanoma early is crucial to increasing your chances of survival; in fact, the 5-year survival rate for patients who receive an early diagnosis and get treated immediately is 98%, meaning 98 out of 100 people will survive for at least 5 years after diagnosis. The risk of melanoma increases with age, with an average diagnosis age of 65. Because this potentially deadly cancer affects many people 65 and older, knowing how Medicare covers detection and treatment is also important.

Melanoma Survival Rates

Melanoma survival rates are based on a 5-year time frame. The “5-year survival rate” refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed. The later the stage that the melanoma is diagnosed at, the lower the chances of survival past 5 years. This is why it is important to keep track of any changes in your skin or moles. The average survival rates for each stage of diagnosis is as follows:

a graph with different lines
The higher the melanoma stage, then the lower the survival rate.
  • Stage 0: The 5-year relative survival rate is 98%.
  • Stage 1: The 5-year survival rate is 90-95%. If a sentinel node biopsy shows any signs of melanoma in the lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is roughly 75%.
  • Stage 2A: The 5-year relative survival rate is approximately 85%. If a biopsy shows any signs of melanoma in the lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is around 65%.
  • Stage 2B: The 5-year relative survival rate is around 72-75%. If a biopsy shows any signs of melanoma in the lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is lowered to 50-60%.
  • Stage 2C: The 5-year relative survival rate is around 53%. If a  biopsy shows any signs of melanoma in the lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is lowered to 44%.
  • Stage 3: The 5-year survival rate is around 45%. It’s higher if the melanoma has spread to only one lymph node, but if it spread to more than 3 lymph nodes, then it is lower.
  • Stage 4: The 5-year survival rate for stage 4 melanoma is around 10%. 

ABCDEs of Melanoma

Skin cancer generally affects the skin on the neck, hands and face. It starts out on the outer layer of the skin, eventually spreading to deeper skin levels and other parts of the body. Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer and has distinct features that are easy to learn and remember by using the ABCDE rule:

  • A for Asymmetry- Most cancerous moles are asymmetrical; if you were to draw a line through the middle of it, one half would not match the other.
  • B for Border– The border, or edges of the mole or spot is irregular, uneven, scalloped, or poorly defined. Common moles are generally smoother. 
  • C for Color– Another warning sign of melanoma is a mole that is different colors, including tan, shades of very dark brown or black. As the mole grows, shades of red, white, or blue might appear.
  • D for Diameter– Moles or spots that are wider than a pencil eraser should also be checked. 
  • E for Evolving– If the mole changes color, shape or size, this could be a warning sign of melanoma.

Risk Factors

legs in a tanning bed
If you used tanning beds in the past, then you are at a higher risk of developing melanoma.

You have a higher chance of developing melanoma if you:

Diagnosis & Treatment

In order to check if a mole is cancerous, your doctor may order a biopsy, or removal of the skin lesion. In the event that the test results come back positive for melanoma, there are various treatments that could follow:

  • Surgery- cutting out the lesion
  • Chemotherapy
  • Photodynamic therapy- drugs administered followed by exposure to a light source to destroy cancerous cells.
  • Radiation therapy- using beams of high energy X-rays to kill cancer cells.
  • Immunotherapy
  • Chemical peel- using a chemical solution to dissolve the top layer of the skin.
  • Targeted therapy- use of drugs to attack cancer cells.

Medicare Coverage For Screenings & Treatment

Cancer screenings are important for early diagnosis and improving a person’s chances of surviving. Fortunately, Medicare covers these screenings, as well as treatment for cancers including melanoma. Medicare Part A will cover cancer treatments that involve inpatient hospital stays. Medicare Part B will cover cancer screenings, and if you are diagnosed with cancer, Part B will cover further assessment and the above mentioned forms of treatment as long as they are deemed medically necessary by a doctor. Part B will only cover 80% of these expenses, leaving you to pay the remaining 20% out-of-pocket. 

Prevention & Extra Coverage

magnifying glass looking at a mole on someone's arm
The best way to prevent melanoma is by checking yourself regularly.

Your best defense against melanoma is to be aware of it! Always check yourself and take note of existing moles or lesions that grow or change, including new ones that pop up. If in doubt, get it checked, and if you have already been diagnosed with melanoma, follow up regularly with your doctor after treatment. 

If the 20% out-of-pocket costs associated with Medicare are too much for you financially, you should consider a Medicare Supplement Plan to help. For the price of a low monthly premium, a Medicare Supplement Plan will cover out-of-pocket expenses, such as coinsurance and copays. There are 10 different plans to choose from, so you are sure to find one that suits your needs financially and medically. 

To get free instant quotes on Medicare Supplement Plans, simply enter your zip code in the bar above. Or to speak to a licensed EZ agent in your area, call 888-753-7207. We will compare all the available Medicare Supplement Plans in your area and find a plan that will help you save money throughout the year. No hassle or obligation.

Normal Skin Conditions

During your teenage years, you might have had your fair share of acne. And unfortunately for some people, acne is an issue well into their adult years. But acne is not the only skin condition that some adults struggle with; there are others that can be frustrating and painful. Many people are unaware of how normal some skin conditions are. 

Acne young caucasian woman's side of the face with acne all over it.

Acne: it’s one of those things you either have or you don’t. And unfortunately, you can develop it in your adult years, especially if you’ve had a baby and your body is going through hormonal changes. Acne is the most common skin disorder in the U.S., affecting 40-50 million people, with more women than men having it. It is caused by hair follicles and oil glands getting blocked, or by hormonal changes. It includes whiteheads, cysts, blackheads, pimples and nodules, and does not only affect the face, but can also appear on your chest, back, backside, and arms. 

Over-the-counter products with benzoyl peroxide can help, but you might need to seek help from a dermatologist, who can prescribe antibiotics and stronger topical creams.  


According to current studies, more than 8 million Americans have the psoriasis. It is an autoimmune disorder that creates abnormalities of the skin, including scaly skin, white flaky skin, dryness, or red and itchy skin. Some people with psoriasis suffer from joint pain and heart disease. People will normally see psoriasis on their knees, elbows, arms, and back. 

person's mole with a magnifying glass over the mole
Skin cancer is more normal than people think, with over 20 million people in the US diagnosed with it.

Unfortunately there are no known causes of psoriasis, but a doctor can help you manage symptoms and reduce flare-ups. They might prescribe topical medications such as steroids, antibody injections, or light therapy with UVB light. 

Skin Cancer

Nearly 20 million Americans die from melanoma, a life-threatening type of skin cancer, every day. This is a scary statistic, but it is the reality. Abnormal moles can lead to melanoma. If you have a mole that changes over time, or have cuts, sunburns, or ingrown hairs that take a long time to heal, it is important to get them checked out.  

When you visit a dermatologist, they will take a sample or remove the mole if it is worrisome. If it turns out to be melanoma, you will most likely need to have surgery to remove it before it spreads. The sooner you catch this type of cancer, the less likely it will be to spread to other areas of your body.


If you have redness on your face or chronic swelling of the face, then you might have rosacea. Rosacea is common in women over 30, and is related to problems with the immune system or veins. Depending on the symptoms, a dermatologist might prescribe topical solutions, including antibiotics. 


Also known as dermatitis, eczema is commonly found in infants and young children. It can continue into adulthood as well, with symptoms including rashes on the face, scalp, elbows, back of the knees, hands, and feet. It is characterized by dry, very itchy, red skin, and while there is no known cause for eczema, researchers believe it may be due to genetics or an allergic reaction. 

dry skin on the back of a caucasian hand's knuckles

A doctor will prescribe topical steroids to treat flare-ups.


Warts are raised bumps on the skin that are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They are contagious and can appear anywhere on your body, including your genitals. Sometimes they will go away on their own, but if they don’t, a visit to your doctor will be necessary for treatment. Treatments can include freezing, cutting or lasering the warts. 

If the warts are in your genital area, it is very important that you see your doctor. If left untreated, HPV can cause cervical cancer in women. 


red inflamed bottom of a caucasian foot.
Athlete’s foot is common and can occur in damp, warm conditions.

Many people are unaware that shingles does not only occur in older people. Skin conditions like shingles can develop in anyone who has had chickenpox. This painful condition lies dormant in the nervous system and can appear when your immune system is compromised. It can be treated with antivirals. It is recommended that people aged 50 and over get vaccinated against it. 

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s foot, which is caused by a fungus that multiplies in warm, damp conditions, gets its name because these conditions are often present in athletes’ shoes. This fungal infection causes itching, redness, and cracked skin. It can take a while to clear up, and a doctor might have to prescribe topical cream. If it is under your nails, a visit to a podiatrist will more than likely be needed to treat it.

Seeing a dermatologist is important for managing and treating some of these skin conditions, which is why having the right insurance plan is important. If you do not have health insurance, it could end up costing you a lot of money to seek treatment, or you could need to treat yourself, which could end up making your condition worse. If you are interested in finding an affordable plan that will cover getting checked and treated for any of these skin conditions, EZ.Insure can help! We will compare all available plans in your area in minutes and guide you towards one that will cover your medical needs and fit in your budget. To get free instant quotes, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak directly with an agent, call 888-350-1890.

Protect Your Skin From This Dangerous Summer Threat

Summer isn’t all fun in the sun. There is a dangerous threat lurking in those UV rays so many of us love to soak up! While exposure to UV radiation makes your skin tan, it also puts you at risk for developing skin cancer. Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States (and the world) – there are more diagnoses of skin cancer each year than all other types of cancer combined. Luckily, not all types of skin cancer are deadly, and there are ways to prevent, detect, and treat it.

Let’s Talk Numberscaucasian hands placed on a caucasian person's should examining a mole.

  • 1 in 5 people will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime.
  • More than 9,500 people in the United States are diagnosed with skin cancer each day. 
  • Having 5 or more sunburns doubles your risk for melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. 
  • When detected early, the survival rate for melanoma is estimated to be around 98%. 

Know Your Risk Factors

There are some genetic and lifestyle factors that put people at a greater risk for developing skin cancer. It’s important to know your own risk profile and to take the appropriate precautions, as well as to keep your primary care practitioner up to date.

red headed woman standing outside taking a picture of the landscape
Fair skinned people as well as red heads are more prone to getting skin cancer. 
  • Light skin: According to the American Cancer Society, fair skinned people are over 20 times more likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer than Black people.
  • Coloring: The risk goes up for people with blonde or red hair, blue or green eyes, or skin that is prone to burns and freckles.
  • Age: Risk of skin cancer increases with age, though melanoma is one of the most common cancers in young adults age 25-28.
  • UV Exposure: The risk is greatly increased for people who have had at least one severe sunburn as a child or who use tanning beds before the age of 30. 
  • Family History: Although most types of skin cancer are not caused by inheriting a faulty gene, melanoma does seem to run in families – 1 in every 10 people diagnosed with melanoma has a family member who has also had it.

The Solution Is Simple

sunscreen spf 30 bottle next to a hat
Wear SPF 30 and a cover up as much as possible to protect your skin.

Although skin cancer is generally treatable, it’s far easier to take preventative measures and avoid the disease altogether. Make these simple lifestyle changes part of your summer routine and you’ll stay a step ahead of skin cancer.

  • Wear Sunscreen. Every. Single. Day. Some folks think sunscreen is exclusively for the beach, but you should wear sunscreen year round! It’s easy to get a sunburn during a long car ride, or even while sitting in a sunny office window. 
  • SPF 30, minimum. The SPF (Sun protection factor) of your sunscreen must be at or above 30 for daily activities. If you’ll be outside for longer, working up a sweat, or near water, reapply often. 
  • Avoid peak sun hours. Most experts agree that the sun is at its most powerful between 11 am and 3pm. Others suggest an even wider window, from 10am to 4pm. Not everyone can avoid the outdoors during those hours, so it’s important to take precautions if you’ll be outside for long.
  • Cover up. Not for modesty, but for skin protection. Even sunscreen isn’t perfect, so the only sure-fire protection is to cover your skin or seek shade if you’re outside during peak sun hours. Wide brimmed hats or light scarves can work wonders for your shoulders and neck, which are at the highest risk for sunburns. 

Not to put a damper on your summer fun, but skin cancer is serious! Taking these simple precautions can reduce your risk of contracting skin cancer, and can protect your skin from burns and early aging. And always discuss any concerns with your primary care practitioner, as early detection greatly reduces mortality rates.

Winter’s Finally Over! Sun’s Out, Sunscreens Out!

This year, the CDC estimates over 7,000 deaths will occur because of melanoma, a form of skin cancer. A lot of people only apply sunscreen when going to the beach or pool. That is one of the biggest mistakes a person can make. Sure you think to yourself you’re going to be exposed to the sun the most in those places. Unfortunately, you get just as much damage from UV rays anytime. UV rays pass through window glass, and reflect off the water, and even off the snow. The more exposure to sun you get, then the more damage you are causing your skin. Needless to say, the rays are strong. It is important to protect your skin every day. But now that the winter is coming to an end, and the sun will be its hottest, be sure to take extra measures to protect your skin. The more exposure it gets without protection, the more likely to burn your skin, causing a higher risk for skin cancer.

It is important to protect your skin everyday with sunscreen. It is especially important when in the sun.
It is important to protect your skin everyday with sunscreen. It is especially important when in the sun to avoid skin cancer.

What Kind Of Sunscreen To Use?

There are various sunscreens flooding the market claiming to protect your skin. A lot of these sunscreens only block UVB rays and not UVA rays. Look for sunscreens that have avobenzone or oxybenzone as an ingredient. Those two ingredients will protect your skin from UVA rays. Choose SPF 15 or higher, but know that the lower the SPF, then the more frequent you must re-apply. Try to stick to SPF 30 or 45. If you are swimming or sweating a lot, then it is best to reapply sunscreen every hour.

Remember Sunscreen, Even If It’s Cloudy!

As stated before, the sun’s rays reflect off water and snow, and get you! Clouds do not stand a chance against the rays either. UV rays can be just as harmful when the clouds provide shade. Also, don’t forget to protect your lips! Use a lip balm or lipstick that contains sunscreen of at least SPF 30. They need protection too.

Eat Your Way To Better Skin

Foods aid in better skin health. Lycopene found in tomatoes absorb UVA and UVB rays.
Foods aid in better skin health. Lycopene found in tomatoes absorb UVA and UVB rays, while carrots help protect the skin with vitamin A.

There are many foods to eat that help protect your skin. Blueberries and cauliflower are abundant in antioxidants that protect your skin against damage from sun exposure. Lycopene, which is found in watermelon and tomatoes, absorbs UVA and UVB radiation. Carrots, spinach, and kale all contain beta carotene, which provides us with the vitamin A our skin needs for natural skin protection. While just eating these foods will protect your skin, keep in mind it’s not enough and that you need to also apply sunscreen. Consider these foods an additive to protecting you alongside your sunscreen. Like a sidekick!

The older you become, the more aware you become of skin care. Thinking back to all the times we would put baby oil on just to tan, talk about regret! While having a sun-kissed look during the summer is nice, remember you are causing more harm than good to your skin. Protect your skin as much as you can. Not only will you avoid cancer, but you will help your skin look more beautiful and youthful over the years. Less sun exposure/burn means fewer wrinkles!