Living Well

How to avoid tick-borne illnesses this spring

The first day of spring is Monday, March 20, and with it comes a whole new slate of potential health concerns that you and your family must be mindful of during this time of year. If you and your loved ones love the great outdoors, ticks are a particular nuisance in the early spring and bites can lead to a wide range of potential health issues like Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever and many other potential maladies.

Whether you're trekking in the back country or enjoying your backyard, practice these tick prevention tips this spring!

  1. Stick to the trail

If you're hiking or camping this coming spring, make sure you stick to the trail and don't stray too far off the beaten path. Ticks are more likely to reside in tall grasses, underbrush and other places with increased moisture and relative humidity. According to TickEncounter.org, tick nymphs can only survive for 8 hours at a time in areas that are under 80 percent humidity. As such, if you stick to sunnier areas and avoid the cooler, shadier spots, you will decrease your exposure to ticks.

  1. Consider yard landscaping

Whether you have little ones or pets who will spend significant time outdoors this spring, you should pay close attention to these areas to see if there is room for improvement to reduce tick populations. The vast majority of ticks around your home will inhabit the area between your yard and a wooded area, so remove potential tick hot spots like leaf piles, shrubs and ground cover near your home. Additionally, look into landscaping that will deter animals like mice, deer, wood chucks and other rodents that could carry the parasites.

  1. Cover up!

Ticks spread diseases by attaching themselves onto the bare skin of their hosts, where they can become impacted and will survive on the host's blood. An easy way around this in the early spring is to wear clothing that will cover exposed areas like your ankles, knees and upper thighs. While this strategy may not work for the sweltering temperatures of summer, it can make a huge difference when hiking or spending long periods of time in the wilderness.

  1. Perform tick checks

Last but not least, every time that you, your loved ones (the dog too!) spend a long period of time outdoors, be sure to check your clothing and extremities for ticks that may have gone along for the ride. Ticks can take several hours to spread Lyme disease and other ailments after attaching themselves to the host, so a good rule of thumb is to remove your clothing immediately after being outdoors and taking a shower immediately. This will give you a chance to check your skin for the presence of ticks, and remove any if necessary.

For all of your spring healthcare needs, be sure to visit FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible products to support your family's health and wellness year-round.

Eligibility

Start your summer search for Pokémon with FSA eligible items!

Don’t get Krabby playing Pokémon Go – these FSA eligible items will keep you in the game while you’re on the go! Whether you’re walking through the woods for more insectoid Pokémon, hiking along the lake in search of that water Pokémon, or rushing downtown before your phone battery dies to find that Pokémon gym, we’ve got you covered at FSAStore.com!

1. Stressed out that you didn’t get Pikachu as your first Pokémon? Relax on a Chillow while you debate whether it’s worth starting a new account.

2. Did you track a Charizard into a swamp or an abandoned back yard? Is there a hornet’s nest or mosquito-infested pond between you and your next big catch? Bull Frog Mosquito Coast Sunscreen (30SPF) with insect repellent will give you a boost against the sun AND keep those real-life insect monsters at bay while you hunt to your heart’s content.

3. Walking around all day to incubate those eggs? You’ve tried riding a bike, taking the bus, and nothing seems to work except pacing the block. Protect yourself against the sun with Aveeno Active Naturals Protect & Hydrate (70SPF) Sunscreen. After a long day of egg-walking, you can use more of it to restore skin that’s been in the sun all day, and help you stay healthy.

4. Sad about your phone’s low battery? Clean up with Boogie Wipes Saline Nose Wipes. Boogie Wipes are a gentle, effective alternative to dry tissues. Maybe your phone died at 2pm because you couldn’t put Pokémon down, but at least you can freshen away those tears with FSA eligible Boogie Wipes.

5. Frustrated at the lack of in-game explanations for the gym system? Did you trip on the sidewalk while reading another online guide? First Aid Bandages will protect your skin after the worst cuts and scrapes.

Does your little one have a conflicted conscience about making “use” of low level duplicates? Soothe his or her troubled thoughts with the Toby the Puppy Hot/Cold Pack for Kids. It holds a pack in place right on the head and looks adorable to boot.

6. Did you meet the love of your life at a Pokémon gym? Google it if you don’t believe it! See a little more clearly who’s out there with prescription contact lenses which you can spend your FSA dollars on. Or maybe you look your best and freshest with prescription sunglasses, which are also FSA eligible!

Living Well

What is swimmer's ear?

If you and your kids are constantly in and out of the water throughout summer, swimmer's ear is a major concern that you should be mindful of.

Swimmer's ear can become a concern, especially if you and your kids are constantly in and out of the water throughout summer.With summer here in full swing, there will be no shortage of trips to the beach or public pool in the coming months.


How does swimmer's ear develop?

It is a bacterial infection that affects the outer ear canal, which is also known as otitis externa. This occurs when water remains in the ear canal. That then creates the moist conditions necessary for bacteria to grow. This infection can occur in both acute and chronic forms. The most common symptoms include swelling in the ear canal, pain, continual drainage and a feeling of fullness in one's ear.

How is swimmer's ear prevented and treated?

The ear canal has natural defenses that protect against the development of bacteria. But,there are some risk factors that could increase the likelihood of contracting swimmer's ear. First, allowing water from swimming to linger in the ear canal can directly affect the formation of swimmer's ear.Also, swimming in water with elevated bacteria levels (lakes, non-chlorinated pools)can affect things. As can cuts or lesions in the ear canal as a result of cotton swabs or other objects, or with individuals who have more narrow ear canals that can easily trap water.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has swimmer's ear, you should consult a doctor even if the symptoms are mild to stop the infection before it accelerates. In most cases, treatment involves first cleaning out the ear canal to remove any traces of bacteria and excess moisture.

This is usually followed by an antibiotic or antifungal ear drop regimen to treat the infection directly. The doctor may also recommend a steroid to limit inflammation. In most cases, swimmer's ear will clear up with appropriate treatment in 1-2 weeks. With some advanced preparation at the beach or pool this summer, you can stop it before it has a chance to develop.

Before you hit the beach this summer, safeguard your loved ones by shopping at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible products!

Living Well

5 summer safety tips for kids

Summer is all about fun for you and your family. Before you go outdoors, review these 5 summer safety tips to make sure everyone is protected from the sun.

Summer is all about fun in the sun for you and your family. Whether your child is on break from school, you're taking a day trip to the park, or you're able to take a longer and much-needed vacation together, sun safety should play a role.


1) Protect kids from the sun. If your kids will be outside for an extended period of time, be sure to apply sunscreen before they leave the house. Apply sunscreen with SPF 30+ for kids, and re-apply it if they play in the water or get sweaty from playing sports.

Sunscreen should also be applied and re-applied every two hours for protection. Remind the kids to stick to the shade whenever possible, and have them wear hats or other sun protective clothing. If you have a baby, there is special baby sunscreen (though it's best to keep babies out of the sun, as best you can).

Shop for Sunscreen for Kids

Shop for Baby Sunscreen

2) Wear sunglasses. Sunglasses are eligible with a Flexible Spending Account, and you'll need a prescription to get reimbursed. Be sure to protect your eyes and your kids' eyes from harmful UV rays with sunglasses.

Shop for Sunglasses with an FSA

3) Get kids appropriate sports gear. According to WebMD, "If your children play team sports, make sure they have appropriate gear. Depending on the sport, this may include a mouth guard, face mask, helmet, pads, and shoes made specifically for the surface your child will play on." In addition, ensure that they're drinking plenty of water before, during and after exercise.

4) Bring a first aid kit. Be sure to pack a first aid kit, especially if you're taking the kids to a playground, a theme park, the beach or elsewhere outdoors. You can leave the kit in the car or carry with you on your person. Keep band-aids, gauze, and other healthy essentials on hand for peace-of-mind and keep kids happy.

Shop for Children's First Aid Kit

5) Incorporate sun protection with bug spray. Be sure to bring bug spray, especially if you're headed into the woods for a day hike or taking an extended camping trip. FSAstore.com carries a sunscreen with bug spray,so an FSA keeps you covered!

Shop for Sunscreen with Bug Spray

Living Well

Keep your kids sun-safe

As temperatures rise this summer, it's important to monitor your child's outdoor activity in terms of keeping them sun safe.

As temperatures rise this summer, it's important to monitor your child's outdoor activity in terms of sun safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a few tips to consider when you're thinking of sun safety and heat-related illnesses.

According to an article by the CDC, "Heat-related illness happens when the body's temperature control system is overloaded. Infants and children up to 4 years of age are at greatest risk. Even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather. For heat-related illness, the best defense is prevention."

In the article, the CDC also cautions to never leave children, infants, or pets in a parked car (even with the windows open), to minimize outdoor activity at peak sun times (go out in the early morning and evening instead, if you have that flexibility), keep cool with cool showers and baths, and dress children and infants in appropriate light-colored and sun protective clothing. These are just a few preventive measures to minimize the risk of heat-related illnesses and to keep everyone in your family sun safe.

The CDC further stresses, "Just a few serious sunburns can increase you and your child's risk of skin cancer later in life. Their skin needs protection from the sun's harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays whenever they're outdoors."

If you know you'll be out and in the sun for a few hours or at least part of the day, apply and re-apply sunscreen as much as possible. It's recommended that you wear sunscreen on your face every day - even on days where the sun isn't out. Other ways to stay sun safe may include seeking shade, bringing umbrellas and wearing protective clothing and wearing hats, if in direct sunlight for longer periods of time. If you'll be in or near water at any time, be sure to reapply sunscreen after you or your kids leave the water.

Did you know broad spectrum, SPF15+ sunscreen is FSA eligible? You can also buy children's sun protection and baby sunscreen with your Flexible Spending Account.

Shop for all your summer healthy product needs at FSAstore.com!

Living Well

How to recognize and treat heatstroke

There is a  risk of extended outdoor exposure that could lead to potentially serious problems: heatstroke. Learn more in the post.

protect yourself from heatstrokeWhile most families worry about preventing sunburn during their spring and summer travels, there is another risk of extended outdoor exposure that could lead to potentially serious problems: heatstroke.

Heat emergencies like heatstroke can arise quickly after an individual is exposed to excessive heat and humidity for an extended period of time. While it mostly affects children, older adults and obese individuals, it can afflict perfectly healthy men and women as well if heatstroke warning signs are ignored.

Cool down with yourFlexible Spending Account! Shop for these cold packs to keep you cool!

Here is how you can spot heatstroke and treat it effectively:

Heatstroke symptoms

Heat stroke is the most advanced heat emergency and is the last progression from milder heat-related illnesses like heat cramps, fainting, and heat exhaustion, but unfortunately, it can also strike when none of these earlier symptoms are present. Heatstroke, which can worsen when coupled with dehydration, is essentially the body losing its ability to naturally regulate its temperature through normal immune system functions. By its medical definition, heatstroke occurs when a person's body temperature exceeds 104 degrees Fahrenheit, which will continue to rise if he/she remains in the same hot environment. Heatstroke will feature the following symptoms:

  • Hot skin: Skin will feel hot and dry to the touch during heatstroke, but it may also feel moist if brought on by intensive exercise. Skin may also become flushed and extremely red as the condition progresses.
  • Poor mental coordination: Heatstroke can bring about an altered mental state, so this can be an early warning sign that something is amiss. Delirium, slurred speech, confusion, agitation and even seizures and coma can arise from the condition.
  • Nausea: An unfortunate side effect of heat stroke is an upset stomach, and many heatstroke sufferers report nausea and vomiting in advanced cases.
  • Headache: A sudden migraine or a headache that becomes steadily worse over time is a key indicator of an uncontrollable body temperature.
  • Rapid breathing/heart rate: In the midst of heatstroke, the heart will work on overdrive in an effort to cool down the body, which will result in an accelerated heart rate. Additionally, breathing may become rapid and shallow as the body compensates to try and bring in enough oxygen to regulate body temperature.

Treatment for heatstroke

If you or a loved one is experiencing the symptoms of heatstroke, time is a pivotal factor and medical help should be sought out immediately. In the meantime, the patient should be moved indoors to a cool environment or into the shady area where he/she will remove any unnecessary clothing. If it's possible, immerse the individual in a bath of cold water to quickly lower body temperature, or mist cold water onto the skin that will evaporate and cool the skin. Although heatstroke can be a frightening experience, with timely medical attention patients will usually make a full recovery.

Check out our other seasonal health tips by visiting the FSAstore.com Blog and explore the world's largest selection of FSA eligible products at FSAstore.com! It's easier than ever to maximize the potential of your FSA and support the wellness of your loved ones

Living Well

Be sun safe with dermatological sun care

At FSAstore.com, we even recently launched our new Dermatological Sun Care category with top brands such as La Roche-Posay, Vichy and MDSolarSciences. 

As warmer weather approaches and you get ready for spring and summer adventures, don't forget to include to wear sunscreen before you go out! Often, people think that sunscreen is unnecessary on a cloudy day, or that applying sunscreen doesn't help unless you're exposed to the sun for an extended period of time, but that's simply not the case.

Fortunately these are myths, and there's more good news: your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) covers Broad Spectrum, SPF15+ sunscreens, so you can protect your skin. At FSAstore.com, we even recently launched our new Dermatological Sun Care category with top brands such as La Roche-Posay, Vichy and MDSolarSciences.

These are dermatologist-recommended sun care products that are also water resistant and suitable for every day wear. MDSolarSciences sunscreens are mineral broad spectrum sunscreens. Want to take a further look at Dermatological Sun Care? Browse the category and get ready for warmer temperatures with your FSA!

Let's explore three questions about sun care and matching dermatological sun care options:

1) "I don't need to apply sunscreen if an area of my body isn't directly exposed to sunlight, right?" This is actually wrong. According to WebMD, "The average T-shirt offers an SPF of about 7. Darker fabrics and tighter weaves provide more protection, but it is much safer to apply sunscreen to your entire body before you get dressed. Or better yet, wear clothing made of UV protective fabrics."

Check out: La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid for Body, SPF 45

2) "I need the highest SPF to protect my skin, I think?" According to WebMD, this is myth, as a sun protection factor of 100 should be twice as protective as SPF 50. But it's only a few percentage points more effective. An SPF of 15 screens 93% of the sun's rays and an SPF of 30 screens 97%."

In addition, WebMD mentioned that you should re-apply sunscreen a few times, if you're exposed to direct sunlight a few hours at a time, and apply it your face no matter what the weather is like that day. If you're going swimming or get sweaty, you should re-apply sunscreen, as well.

Check out: La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 30 Cooling Water Sunscreen Lotion

Check out: Vichy Capital Soleil SPF 45 Silkscreen Face, Body Lotion

3) I found a bottle from last year. I can still use that, right?

Wrong! Though sunscreens may not expire every year, you should be applying it enough so that you don't need to use last year's sunscreen supply.

Check out: MDSolarSciences Protection Pros Sunscreen Set