Thursday, October 23, 2014

Why You Should Be Taking Care of Your Bone Health NOW

The Scary Truth About Osteoporosis

Bone health may not be something you think about very often, especially if you're a young woman, but maybe it should be. Osteoporosis affects up to 200 million women worldwide. About half of women over age 50 will break a bone because of osteoporosis. Of the 10 million women with osteoporosis in America, a whopping 80% are women. It may seem like it doesn't matter while you're young, but the time to prevent osteoporosis is now.

The Facts

Let's talk about something called peak bone mass. Peak bone mass is the greatest amount of bone tissue that a person has during their life. For most people, peak bone mass is reached by the time they reach the age of 30. However, ninety percent of calcium is deposited by the age of eighteen to twenty years. This means that twenty-somethings need to work extra hard to add to or maintain that peak bone mass, because here's some bad news: after a certain age, bone mass starts to decrease (see graph).

As you can see, there is a gradual loss until menopause, where there is an acceleration of bone loss.  A measly ten percent loss in bone mass can double the risk of vertebral fractures. In women over the age of 45, osteoporosis accounts for more time spent in the hospital than diabetes, heart attack, and even breast cancer. Women need to be diligent about calcium intake and store up bone mass now so that later they won't be left with brittle bones. High peak bone density early in life reduces the risk of osteoporosis later. 

Factors That Affect Peak Bone Mass

1. Gender
Obviously gender plays a role in the risk for bone loss as men don't go through menopause, so they don't have that drastic loss in a relatively short period of time. Additionally, after puberty men tend to acquire greater bone mass than women.
2. Race
Caucasian females are at a higher risk than African American females. The difference in bone density is even seen during childhood and adolescence.
3. Hormonal factors
Women who had their first menstrual cycle at an early age and those who use oral contraceptives that contain estrogen often have higher bone mineral density than women whose periods started late or who lost it because of excessive exercise or extremely low weight.
4. Nutrition
Calcium is essential for bone health. Sadly, less than ten percent of girls age 9 to 17 are getting the calcium they need each day.
5. Physical activity
Regular exercise may play a part in achieving greater peak bone mass. Women can help prevent bone loss with regular exercise, especially weight-bearing exercise (see below).
6. Lifestyle Behaviors
Smoking has been linked to low bone density in adolescents and when those smokers grow up they are at further risk for bone loss and fracture.

Things You Can Do Now

Now that you've been intimidated by scary facts and charts, here are things that you can do now while you're young to prevent osteoporosis:

1. Take in Calcium and Vitamin D

This first one is obvious (hopefully). Calcium and vitamin D are both essential to healthy bones. Calcium builds the bones, but vitamin D is what helps the body absorb the calcium. Women should aim for at least 1,000 mg of calcium daily, and 1,200 mg over the age of 50. Here's the catch: the body can only absorb about 500 mg at a time, so you need to spread your calcium intake throughout the day, whether its in food form or pill form. Women should also aim for about 600 IU (international units) each day of vitamin D.

Good sources of calcium include milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, canned salmon, calcium-fortified orange juice, spinach, turnip greens, collard greens and broccoli. You can go here to see a great list of  calcium-rich foods and how much calcium is in each of them. If you feel like you just can't eat all of those collard greens, or maybe have a diet absent of dairy, calcium supplements are available in two forms: calcium carbonate (take with food) and calcium citrate (okay without food). Be sure whatever form you decide on to take twice a day in order to absorb enough calcium.
As for Vitamin D, you can stimulate production by being in the sun, but if you aren't outside all day and need that extra dose, some other good sources are: flesh of fatty fish, fortified milk, fortified orange juice, supplements, egg yolks, fortified cereal, and cod liver oil.

2. Exercise

Regular exercise has a vast number of benefits. One of those is improved bone health. The best kind of exercise for osteoporosis prevention is weight-bearing exercise and strength training. This includes a combination of walking, jogging, stair climbing, lifting weights, yoga, or body-weight exercises (push-ups, planks, wall-sits, sit-ups, etc). These exercises help keep bones strong by causing the muscles and tendons to pull on the bones, which in turn stimulates bone cells to produce more bones.

3. Cut Down on the Soda

Some studies have shown that the extra phosphorous in carbonated drinks may contribute to bone loss by binding with calcium and preventing it from being deposited in the body.

4. Make Sure Your Weight Loss Isn't Over the Top

When women lose too much weight they are at risk for losing their period. This can lead to major bone loss and can add to the risk of osteoporosis. What's worse is that in cases of prolonged low weight, as in anorexia nervosa, the bone loss is often irreversible.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Things You Can Do to Set Yourself Up for a Healthy Pregnancy

Trying to Get Pregnant: How to Set Yourself Up for Success
Are you ready to start "trying?" First of all, congratulations! No matter the outcome of these next few months, this stage is one of the most exciting times in a woman's (and a couple's) life! But some of us get to this point and then wonder, "Now what?"

The following are some helpful suggestions on what you can do to prepare yourself for a successful pregnancy.

1. Go off your birth control.

Whether it's the pill, the shot, or the ring, it's time to give up any and all birth control. You should also give your body a few months to readjust before you really start trying to conceive. Give yourself a while to get used to your natural menstrual cycle again. If you've stopped your birth control and haven't gotten your period for three months, talk with your provider.

2. Just say no to smoking and drinking.
If you are someone who smokes or drinks, it's time to stop now. Those toxins can affect your developing embryo before you even know you're pregnant. Smoking and drinking has also been shown to negative affect your chance of getting pregnant. Practice abstinence from tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs for the months before, during, and after your pregnancy. You should also remove yourself from all secondhand smoke.

3. Cut back on caffeine.
Doctors are mixed about how much caffeine is safe when expecting or trying to conceive, so it may be best to just forgo it completely if possible. Not only can too much caffeine lead to miscarriage, you don't want to experience withdrawals while pregnant.

4. Get to your "ideal weight."
It sounds counter-intuitive to lose weight just to gain some, but a healthy weight helps with a safer and healthier pregnancy. Start exercising and eating healthier (fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and sufficient vitamins and minerals) now so that it is a habit when you become pregnant. If you're underweight, try to gain a few pounds by adding in extra healthy fats like avocado, nuts and nut butters, olive oil, fatty fish, etc. Being overweight or underweight can hinder getting pregnant and may lead to pregnancy or birth complications down the road.

5. Take a prenatal supplement.
While taking a prenatal supplement might seem like jumping the gun, it will pay out when you find out you're pregnant. Actually, all women of child-bearing age are advised to take a prenatal supplement. The reason for this is mainly because inadequate intake of folic acid, present in prenatal supplements, can lead to serious birth defects in infants. These defects can be prevented by adequate folic acid intake, but the problem is that these defects occur in the first month of your pregnancy before you even get a positive pregnancy test. So be proactive by taking a prenatal supplement while you are in your child bearing years. As always, be cautious about the kind of supplement you buy. Stay away from the "gummy" vitamins, as these don't contain iron.

6. Get some rest.
Make your nights count. You probably don't expect much sleep with an infant, but you might not be aware of the sleepless nights you'll have while pregnant. Between heartburn, nighttime bathroom runs, and joint pain, you'll soon miss the days you could get a good night's sleep. Get in those z's while you still can!

7. Go see your provider.
Make an appointment and let your provider know you're thinking about getting pregnant. Make sure you're up-to-date on vaccinations, check for STD's, test for heart-health issues like high blood pressure and cholesterol, and ensure that any chronic conditions are in check (or that it's safe to get pregnant with your current condition). You may also choose to do genetic counseling/testing. Seeing your provider before you get pregnant also gives you a chance to determine whether you'll want to keep working with them once you get pregnant.

8. Be patient.
Just because you decided it's time doesn't mean you'll be pregnant next month. It can take months or even years to get pregnant. The odds that you'll get pregnant on the first try, although not impossible, are lower than you think. If you have been trying for a year or more with no success, don't hesitate to consult with your physician about a course of action.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Bad Beauty Habits

Five Beauty Practices That Are a No-No

Sure, not all of us have time to do avocado face masks and coconut sugar scrubs, but there are still some things we should be doing to practice basic beauty hygiene. The following are common beauty habits that do more harm than good:

1. Sleeping in Make-up

In an interesting article on the Daily Mail website, a woman underwent an experiment in which she slept in her make-up for a month. By the end, experts said that her skin had aged by a decade. Though it may seem like a trivial task at the end of a long day, removing your make-up can prevent damage to your skin. Dermatologists warn that long-term avoidance of cleansing the skin of make-up can result in the accumulation of environmental pollutants, which contribute to the breakdown of collagen and elastin (the structures that keep you looking young and healthy).
Do instead: Make sure to cleanse and moisturize your skin every night.

2. Squeezing Zits

We all do it. We can't help it-- who wants to go around with a big whitehead on their nose? Well, it turns out that popping your pimples can actually cause more of the same problem. The pustule, or the "head," actually contains all of the bacteria in one place. When you puncture that sack of gunk, it can spread to other pores and lead to more zits. You can also force the bacteria deeper into your skin by poking and prodding, or introduce new bacteria from your fingers, which can make the pimple even more red and inflamed than before.
Do instead: Your best bet is to have your zits popped by a professional dermatologist or esthetician. However, as that isn't always feasible, here is the proper way to get rid of whiteheads:
1. Wait until the whitehead is ready: the pus will be close to the surface and ready to drain.
2. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water, including under your fingernails.
3. Sterilize a pin with a match or lighter, then let it cool and wipe it with rubbing alcohol.
4. Swab the zit with alcohol, as well as your fingers. Dry your fingers and wrap them with a clean tissue.
5. Gently pierce the very tip of the whitehead's center with the sterilized pin. Using your fingers or cotton swabs, softly squeeze the pimple around the base, not the tip. If the pus doesn't come out easily, stop! It isn't ready.
6. Apply alcohol or bacitracin ointment (neosporin) to the now deflated bump.

3. Touching Your Face

Try an experiment. For one day, count the number of times you touch your face. It will surprise you! There are millions of tiny bacteria, viruses, and other scary microbes that can make it from our hands to our faces. But that's not the only reason to stop rubbing your eyes; rubbing your skin can actually do a lot of damage as well. For example, when we rub our eyes/eyelids we can actually create microscopic tears in the tissue, making the eye area look older faster. Rubbing our eyes can also break capillaries in the eyelids (causing little thread-like veins) or break capillaries under the eyes (causing darker circles). Touching our face can also worsen acne, contact dermatitis, and herpes simplex.
Our hands aren't the only problem, however; cell phones and dirty bed linens (sheets and pillowcases) can also exacerbate acne. When something comes in direct contact with your face, make sure you keep it as clean as possible.
Do instead: Avoid touching your face as much as possible. When you have to, clean hands thoroughly with soap and water, making sure to get in between the fingers and under the fingernails.

4. Picking at Cuticles/Biting Nails

Does the word onychophagia ring a bell? That is the word for the syndrome known for repetitive biting, chewing, and picking of one’s fingernails and the cuticles around them. Not only does picking and biting leave your nails looking less than manicured, it also leaves you more prone to bacteria and infection. Additionally, severe picking or chewing can lead to pain and even bleeding. 
Do instead: Keep your nails well manicured and moisturized. Paying for a manicure will leave you less likely to mess with your nails and fingers, and moisturizing your hands will cut down on the dry cuticles (which can be a trigger for picking). If your habits are triggered by stress or boredom, try doodling or squeezing a stress ball instead.

5. Sharing Cosmetics

Sharing cosmetics can lead to a nasty infection. Sharing mascara may cause a bad eye infection and even sharing lip balms/sticks/glosses can lead to a viral infection because viruses can live on inanimate objects. You should never share anything that comes into direct contact with someone's skin or mucus membranes.
Do instead: Buy your own make-up.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Protect Your Skin-- Opt for Self Tanners!

Avoid Damage to Your Skin: Best Self Tanners

With the fall and winter months approaching, you may be tempted to hop into a tanning bed to keep your skin golden. However, tanning beds can be harmful and cause skin damage in the long run. No matter what they tell you at tanning salons, tanned skin means damaged skin cells. Cumulative damage caused by UV radiation can lead to premature skin aging such as brown spots, wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and more. It can also lead to skin cancer, which can be fatal. Almost 10,000 people die from melanoma each year, and every year there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon, according to the Skin Care Foundation website.
Let's face it: tanning is not a part of a healthy lifestyle. But if you just can't give up your bronze skin, there are safe alternatives, including self tanners! To keep your skin healthy and help prevent cancer, opt for some of these products instead:

For the Price Conscious:

L'oreal Sublime Glow, $10
This is a gradual tanner, so you can apply it over the course of a few days to get a darker shade. It leaves behind a subtle shimmer, and it is overall a quality product for the money. The only downside is that it tends to have a runny consistency.

Neutrogena Sun Fresh Sunless Foam, $9
With no streaking and a pump feature for easier use, this self tanner is a great product for the price.

For the Face:

Laura Mercier Bronzing Gel for the Face, $32
It is suggested that you use this after tinted moisturizers and before powders, and is meant to enhance the tan on the face. It provides a sun-kissed look, as well as a little glow.

Worth the Price:

Guerlain's Terracotta Self-Tanning Spray, $35-$50
This spray dries very quickly (5-10 minutes), so you can get dressed shortly after applying it. The color is very natural, and no users have reported that infamous orange hue that can sometimes be associated with self tanner.

These self tanners provide a safer tan than exposing yourself to those dangerous UV rays. It's recommended that you add daily application of sunscreen to your skin care routine.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

10 Reasons You're Tired All The Time

10 Reasons You're Tired All The Time

Do you consistently get eight hours of sleep a night and still feel tired? Many of us feel like we can't make it through the day without a nap or caffeine, but do we know why? Even with a full night's sleep, sometimes we find ourselves dragging our feet.

Here are some reasons why you may be tired all the time:

1. What You Eat

Image source: articles/health_tools/fatigue_slideshow/getty_rm_photo_of_businesswoman_eating_donut_outside.jpg

Grabbing sugary snacks to give you a pick me up when you're tired may be counterproductive. When you eat foods high in sugar or caffeine, your blood sugar levels are all over the place and cause "crashes." Eating a healthy and balanced diet, complete with complex carbs, healthy fats, and protein, is the best way to keep your blood sugar level steady and prevent those energy slumps.

2. How Much You Exercise

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Though you may feel exhausted after a workout, in general exercise will give you more energy. Studies have shown that sedentary people who start exercising feel less fatigue than those who stay idle. The recommendation for exercise is at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise.

3. Anemia

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Many women suffer from anemia, or low iron. If you eat well, exercise, and get plenty of sleep, it might be a good idea to go get your iron tested through a blood test. Eating enough iron is important for your body to be able to stay well oxygenated. Iron is found in dark leafy greens, meats, and fortified cereals.

4. Deficiencies in Other Key Nutrients

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Iron isn't the only nutrient important for energy production. Lack of other vitamins and minerals such as potassium may be causing you to feel lethargic. Talk to your provider about getting a blood test for deficiencies.

5. Thyroid Problems

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A thyroid that is working improperly (or not working at all) may be causing excessive fatigue. Other symptoms of an underactive thyroid include: weight gain, depression, sensitivity to cold, dry skin and hair, and aching muscles. Talk to your provider if you suspect a problem.

6. Celiac Disease (Gluten Allergy)

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Believe it or not, chronic fatigue may be a sign of celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Since gluten damages your ability to absorb nutrients when you have celiac, this can leave you feeling very tired. Other symptoms of celiac disease include diarrhea, anemia and weight loss. You can talk to your provider if you feel like this could be you, or cut out wheat, barley, and rye from your diet and see if there is an improvement.

7. Diabetes

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Both types of diabetes are being diagnosed at any age now. If you find you just don't feel good most of the time, you may be living with diabetes and not even realizing it. Often type II diabetes goes unnoticed for some time before showing any kind of symptoms. It is a good idea to go get your blood sugar tested if you aren't feeling yourself (especially if accompanied with excessive urination and/or thirst).

8. Depression

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If your tiredness is accompanied by extreme or even debilitating sadness or despair,
you may be depressed. People who are depressed are more than four times as likely to be tired. Depression is more common than you think, and you shouldn't keep it to yourself. Go talk to your provider about a course of action to get you feeling better.

9. Sleep Problems

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Although you may be getting in adequate hours of sleep, there may be problems you're unaware of while you're trying to get your z's. You may be tossing and turning on an uncomfortable mattress, in which case you can try a different mattress or even a mattress pad. Another reason you may not be getting the rest you need is snoring, or even sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is when you periodically stop breathing during the night due to obstructed airways. It might be a good idea to talk to your provider about doing a sleep study.

10. Heart Disease

Yes, it sounds scary, but heart disease is definitely prevalent among women. Fatigue is one of the most common symptoms that women complain of with heart disease. It's never a bad idea to check with your doctor, just in case.

In any case, if you're getting enough sleep and still tired all the time, go discuss your concern with your provider.


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Do You Have an Eating Disorder?

Do You Have an Eating Disorder?

Are you constantly preoccupied by what or how much you eat? Do you eat in secret? Do you feel like no matter how much weight you lose, you still consider yourself “fat?” If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” then there may be a chance you are suffering from an eating disorder.

There are three main eating disorders:

Anorexia Nervosa:

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Anorexia nervosa, commonly referred to as anorexia, is described as distorted body image and excessive dieting that leads to severe weight loss with a pathological fear of becoming fat.

Signs that you may have anorexia nervosa:

·         Restriction of food intake leading to weight loss or a failure to gain weight resulting in a significantly low body weight·         Fear of becoming fat or of gaining weight
·         Having a distorted view of yourself or of your condition (thinking you are overweight when you are actually underweight, or thinking you’ll gain weight if you eat one meal)
·         The preoccupation with being thin takes over your eating habits, thoughts, and life
·         You no longer get pleasure out of activities or relationships you used to enjoy
·         Lying about how much you eat or hide your eating habits from others
·         Feeling powerful or in control when going without food or over-exercise
·         Loss of period

Consequences of untreated anorexia nervosa:

Can’t think right, sad, moody, irritable, bad memory, fainting, changes in brain chemistry, hair thins and gets brittle, anemia and other blood problems, weak muscles, swollen joints, bone loss, fractures, osteoporosis, kidney stones, kidney failure, constipation, bloating, period stops, problems growing, trouble getting pregnant, bruise easily, dry skin, growth of fine hair all over body, get cold easily, yellow skin, brittle nails, low blood pressure, slow heart rate, heart palpitations, heart failure

Anorexia can be fatal if not properly treated.

Bulimia Nervosa

 Bulimia nervosa, or bulimia, is characterized by frequent episodes of binge eating followed by inappropriate behaviors like self-induced vomiting or abuse of laxatives.

Signs that you have bulimia nervosa:

·         Eating past the point of satiation, even until you feel pain or nausea
·         Using diuretics or laxatives in order to flush waste
·         Throwing up at least once a week after overeating
·         Excessive exercising
·         Distorted body image
·         Fear of weight gain
·         You no longer get pleasure out of activities or relationships you used to enjoy
·         Feeling a loss of control during a binge

More severe cases show signs of chronic vomiting, such as:
·         Swollen cheeks or jaw area
·         Calluses or scrapes on the knuckles (if using fingers to induce vomiting)
·         Teeth that look clear
·         Broken blood vessels in the eyes

Consequences of untreated bulimia nervosa:

Depression, anxiety, dizziness, shame, low self-esteem, anemia, swelling and soreness of cheeks, cavities, tooth enamel erosion, gum disease, teeth sensitive to hot and cold, sore and irritated throat and esophagus, blood in vomit, fatigued muscles, stomach pain and ulcers, dry skin, dehydration, low potassium, low magnesium, low sodium, kidney problems, constipation, irregular bowel movements, bloating, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, irregular or absent period, irregular heartbeat, low pulse and blood pressure, heart failure

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating disorder (BED) was recently added to the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It is defined as recurring episodes of eating significantly more food in a short period of time than most people would eat under similar circumstances. It is not to be confused with overeating; binge eating disorder affects about 2% of Americans, whereas overeating is a common problem in which an individual eats past the point of satiety or more calories than their body requires.

Signs that you may have binge eating disorder:

·         Episodes of overeating marked by feelings of lack of control
·         Eating too quickly or when not hungry
·         Feelings of guilt, embarrassment, distress or disgust with behavior
·         Eating alone
·         Feelings persist at least once a week over three months
·         May miss work, school, or social activities to binge eat

Consequences of untreated binge eating disorder:

Depression, stress, trouble sleeping, and weight gain (which in turn may lead to Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, gallbladder disease, heart disease, certain types of cancer)

If any of these sound like you in any way, please speak with your doctor.
The number to the BYU-Idaho Student Health Center Counseling Center is (208) 496-9370.

If you know someone and suspect that they may have an eating disorder, the following are helpful tools for knowing what to do (courtesy of
1.      Set a time to talk.
Speak privately with your friend in a quiet place where there are no distractions.
2.      Tell your friend about your concerns.
Be honesty and tell your friend about your worries. Tell them you think these things may be a sign of a problem that needs professional help.
3.      Ask your friend to talk to a professional.
Offer to help your friend find a counselor or doctor and make an appointment. You can even offer to go with them for support.
4.      Avoid conflicts.
If your loved one won’t admit that they have a problem, don’t push it. Tell them you are always there to listen and talk.
5.      Don’t place shame, blame, or guilt on your friend.
For example, do no tell them, “You just need to eat.” Instead, say things like, “I’m concerned about you because you won’t eat breakfast or lunch.”
6.      Don’t give simple solutions.
Don’t say, “If you’d just stop, then things would be fine.”
7.      Let your friend know that you will always be there no matter what.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Battling Adult Acne

It is widely known that acne is part of being a teenager. Parents tell us that we will grow out of it eventually. For some this is true, but for others, it seems as though they approach their twenties battling acne as if they were a young teenager going through puberty. It was found that about 54% of women suffer from some sort of facial acne ranging from mild to severe from the age of 24-44 (Berkeley Wellness). Acne does not go away with age for some, while others may not even have acne appear until adulthood. For most adults this can be discouraging and embarrassing. Acne is often blamed on young age and poor hygiene. Similar to teenagers, acne can have a negative effect on adults.

Teens develop acne because of the flood of hormones and changes that their bodies are making at that time in their life.The cause for acne adults is still questioned by many. Some believe it can be linked to genetcs, some can still be that hormone flares especially in women just before their menstrual period. Other reasons can be stress, resistant bacteria, climate changes, too little sleep, medications, or from smoking. 

Treating Adult Acne

  • Wash and moisturize face one-two times a day.
  • When washing your face be thorough but do not scrub too hard.
  • Use a mild soap or facial cleanser specific for your skin. (Dry, Oily, Moderate) 
  • When using a moisturizer avoid products that are oil based. 
  • When choosing cosmetics avoid oil based cosmetics. Also remember to never go to sleep with out removing make up. 
  • Avoid picking or popping pimples this will only irritate the skin, prolong healing, and can cause scaring. 
  • Try an over-the-counter product containing benzoyl peroxide, which helps with killing bacteria. 
  • If basic home treatment does not work, you may want to consider consulting with your doctor about different treatment. This could include oral contraceptives, Accutane (isotretinoin), or other products that can be used with a prescription. 
For more information of acne and its treatment follow the link below. 

Google Images
BYU-Idaho Wellness. (2012). "Skin Care for Acne". BYU-Idaho Patient Education. 
WebMD. (2013) "Acne Health Care" WebMD. Retrieved from
University of California Berkeley. (2014). "Dealing with Adult Acne" Berkley Wellness. Retrieved from

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