Sunscreen is one of the most vital FSA-eligible products available to American families for its role in preventing skin cancer, which 1 in 5 Americans will experience some time in their lifetime (AAD).
But what many people aren't aware of is what makes a sun care product eligible for flexible spending account dollars. Luckily, the main requirement is that it keeps the key feature that makes all sunscreens effective: broad spectrum protection.
We've all seen broad spectrum on sunscreen bottles, but what does it really mean? According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, ultraviolet rays are the key causes of sunburn and skin damage, which take the form of UVA, UVB and UVC rays. UVC rays are absorbed in the atmosphere, but the rest of this infrared light trickles down to us. But UVA/UVB rays damage skin in differing ways (University of Iowa):
These rays are the primary contributors to photoaging, or wrinkling of the skin that are most often associated with aging. They do this because they penetrate to deeper skin layers than UVB rays. UVA rays are the toughest to block, and traditional sunscreens are typically more effective in blocking UVB rays.
These are the sun's rays that affect your uppermost skin layers, and are the primary contributors to sunburn. These rays play the most active role in contributing to the formation of skin cancers, which can sometimes arise in dark-colored spots on the skin that can be the early signs of melanoma.
UV forecasts and sunscreen use
No sunscreen will be able to block 100% of UV rays, but broad spectrum sunscreens are the most effective in reducing the chance of sunburn and skin damage from prolonged sun exposure. Always use sunscreen when heading outdoors, but another tip to reduce your UV exposure year-round is to check on the UV Index in your area.
According to the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection (EPA), the UV Index is a calculation conducted by the National Weather Service for most ZIP codes across the U.S. to forecast the expected risk of excessive UV radiation.
Typically these are only reported on TV weather forecasts in events of extreme UV sun exposure, but if you want to be proactive about your sun care regimen, the EPA offers a free, downloadable UV Index app so you can be mindful of your risk wherever you're heading.
With spring here in full swing and summer just around the corner, you and your loved ones' time in the sun will increase significantly and it's time to take the proper precautions. It's a good time to remind individuals and families to be mindful of the risk of the most common form of cancer in the United States - and the most preventable cancer type!
As important as utilizing broad spectrum sunscreens when spending time in the direct sunlight is for preventing skin cancer, regular skin checks are pivotal for early detection. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer growths that are found and removed early are almost always curable, so as the weather gets warm, skin checks are a necessity. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Dermatology that can help you get started!
What to look for
There are 5 key characteristics to look for that could be trouble signs of skin cancer growth. Skin cancer growths showcase asymmetry - or one half is unlike the other half - have an irregular, poorly defined border and varying color shades. Melanomas are typically larger than 6 millimeters, but another warning sign to look out for is a continual evolution in its shape and color that show that the growth is progressing.
Use a full-length mirror
Every skin cancer check should start with a full body exam in a full-length mirror. This will allow you to examine your body from front to back to check for any questionable dark spots or moles that could be the early signs of cancer. Additionally, be sure to lift your arms when checking your sides to ensure an unobstructed view.
Check hard-to-reach spots
One of the risks of melanoma is that it can form on unexpected places on the body, so make sure your skin check is as thorough as possible! Some spots to keep in mind are forearms, palms, the backs of legs/feet, spaces between your toes, and the soles of your feet.
Utilize a hand mirror
Last but not least, there are a few spots on your body that you should closely inspect with a hand mirror. Examine the back of your neck and scalp with the mirror, and part your hair to check the underlying scalp for any marks or imperfections that may be present. This is also a good opportunity to check your lower back and buttocks as well.
What should I do if I spot a growth?
If you spot a growth that showcases the characteristics of melanoma, don't wait! Make an appointment with your dermatologist immediately to have it checked and removed if necessary!
Sun Bum SPF 50 Sunscreen Continuous Spray
Protect your skin from harmful UVA/UVB rays while enriching your skin with Vitamin E.
If you ask most business travelers, they will tell you that they have a love/hate relationship with the practice. While it's certainly exciting to see and experience new places, the daily grind of flying and an ever-changing slate of hotel rooms can weigh on even the most savvy business traveler.
So if you had a way to improve your comfort level, avoid chronic pain issues and maintain your overall wellness during travel, you wouldn't turn it down, right? Luckily, if you have a flexible spending account (FSA), your benefit covers a huge range of eligible products that will do just that. Here's how to use FSA money to boost your overall health during your next business trip.
- Orthopedic Neck Pillow
If you experience chronic pain issues from sleeping in an upright position, you may experience additional pain throughout your business trip. An orthopedic neck pillow can contour to the neck and shoulders, and can be used in conjunction with traditional pillows to provide a comfortable sleep position that alleviates pain.
Check Out: IMAK HappiNeck Orthopedic Neck Support
- Acupressure Mat
Tackling pain on the road is tough, but instead of constantly resorting to over-the-counter pain relievers, acupressure mats may be the perfect solution. Acupressure mats target specific pressure points in the user's back, neck and shoulders to alleviate pain in various parts of the body. These mats are used to treat back/neck/shoulder pain, fibromyalgia pain and even migraines. Best of all, they are compact and can be stored in a suitcase with ease.
- Pain Relief Eye Mask
In addition to helping to block out light to help you sleep, pain relief eye masks are great options for business travelers who experience migraines, sinus pain or wake up with puffy eyes. After a short time in the refrigerator, these masks can provide cooling relief to fight pain and inflammation so you can wake up feeling your best.
Check Out: IMAK Eye Mask, Pain Relief
- Sun Protection with Daily Moisturizer
Is your face feeling as refreshed as it could be before a major business excursion? Daily moisturizers are usually not FSA-eligible, but those that offer broad spectrum protection and an SPF of 15+ are eligible for reimbursement with an FSA as long as their primary purpose is sun protection. These products can help refresh the look of your skin and safeguard your skin from the harsh effects of UVA and UVB rays.
- Eyeglass Repair Kit
If you wear glasses, you know the nightmare of having your eyewear break while on the road. Luckily, a surprising number of eyeglass accessories are FSA eligible, from eyeglass repair kits to cleaning wipes to cleaning sprays. Prepare ahead of time for these emergencies to give you confidence on your business trip!
Check Out: Flents Eyeglass Repair Kit
Mother's Day arrives on May 14, 2017, and this holiday also kicks of National Women's Health Week, a national initiative that serves as a time to encourage women to take steps to improve their health and make wellness a priority.
If you're a working mom who's enrolled in a flexible spending account (FSA), you'd be surprised by just how many FSA-eligible products can help improve your overall well-being. Whether it's products to tackle chronic pain issues or to help you manage being a mom, it's your holiday - it's time to treat yourself!
Here are a few great FSA-eligible items that moms should consider this Mother's Day.
- Pain Relief Eye Mask
Do you have an issue with puffy eyes or inflammation? Or do you suffer from migraines and have extensive eye pain that accompanies headaches? Therapeutic eye masks can administer both heat and cold therapy, and are a great option for moms looking for a natural means of pain relief.
Check Out: TheraPearl Hot or Cold Therapy Eye Mask
- Acupressure Wrist Bands
Do you suffer from motion sickness during travel or experience nausea when a migraine hits? You may be the perfect candidate for acupressure wrist bands! These drug-free bands provide light pressure to key acupoints in the wrist to alleviate nausea caused by travel, headaches, morning sickness/pregnancy, anesthesia and chemotherapy. Best of all, they're waterproof, adjustable for a customized fit, and reusable.
- Mineral Sunscreen
How prepared are you for summer? If you'll be spending time at the beach this summer, be sure to pack the sunscreen! These products are eligible as long as they offer broad-spectrum protection against UVA/UVB rays, and offer a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or above. Mineral sunscreen is not absorbed into the skin, does not degrade over time because of UVA/UVB rays, and is effective immediately after application.
- Lip Balm with SPF 15+
In addition to sunscreen, make sure your lips are protected all summer long as well! Lip balm is only FSA-eligible with an SPF 15 or above, so use your FSA funds to refresh the look of your lips and keep them protected from sun damage.
- First Aid Kit
There's a long summer ahead of day trips, vacations and outdoor excursions, so make sure you and your loved ones are protected with medical supplies to handle any situation. First aid kits are a smart buy for your home, car or boat and can help you respond confidently in an emergency situation.
As March gives way to April, it is officially spring and before you know it, your kids will be home from school for their annual spring break. This is typically a very busy week for most families, as they are beginning to enjoy the great outdoors, taking vacations and generally enjoying everything the new season has to offer.
Before spring break arrives, make sure you are prepared for everything the week has in store! Here are a few smart Flexible Spending Account (FSA) eligible purchases to make before spring break!
- Sunscreen (Broad Spectrum, SPF 15+)
While the sun's rays can be dangerous at any time of year, with the longer daytime hours and increased amount of time outdoors this spring, sun protection should be a major priority. Sunscreen is an FSA eligible expense provided that is SPF 15+ and broad spectrum, and products such as sun protection lip balm, children's sunscreen and mineral sunscreen are great options that can protect your family all day long.
- Acupressure Wrist Bands
Kids are far more likely to get car sick than adults, so if you'll be traveling during spring break with your family, be sure to pick up a few acupressure wrist bands for your kids to wear along the way. These drug-free bands that are worn around the wrists provide light pressure to "acupoints" along the wrists that can help to reduce the likelihood of motion sickness.
- Neck Pillows
Can you never seem to find the right position to sleep in while traveling by car or plane? Worse yet, do you have neck pain or other chronic pain issues that make sitting for long periods of time unbearable? FSA eligible orthopedic neck pillows may be the perfect solution. These pillows stabilize the neck and shoulder muscles during periods of activity, and it can provide a comfortable sleeping position to avoid pain during long car and airplane trips.
With all of the time your kids will be spending outdoors this spring break, there's a good chance a few bumps and bruises will happen along the way. If you have FSA funds to spare, pick up a box of Band-Aids for the whole family. This will allow you to quickly respond in the event of an emergency and every home with small children should be fully stocked with first aid supplies!
- Saline Spray
Spring also hails the arrival of allergy season, and whether you're outdoors or your home's windows are open, pollen levels can trigger a wealth of allergic reactions. Saline sprays are a must-have during allergy season, as they can clear out the nasal passages of allergens, mucous and other irritants to help you and your loved ones breath clearly all season long.
For everything you need to keep your family healthy year-round, rely on FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA eligible products to help you maximize the potential of your employee benefits!
For many FSA users, 2016 isn't over quite yet! The period between January 1 and March 15 is the FSA grace period (for FSA plans that ended on December 31, 2016), the last chance for millions of FSA holders to spend down the remainder of their 2016 funds before they are forfeited.
Companies have the option of choosing the 2.5 month grace period or the $500 rollover when setting up FSA plans for employees, so if your plan features the grace period, there is still time to spend down the remainder of your 2016 funds before the deadline! Whether you have $600 or $60 left in your account, FSAstore.com can help you spend down your remaining 2016 funds on the eligible products you and your family use the most. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind before March 15 arrives!
- Medical/Dental/Vision Care
First and foremost, your FSA is one of the easiest ways to save on medical spending, so whether you've been putting off a physical exam, a dental cleaning or even thinking about LASIK surgery, these are all qualifying medical expenses that can be covered with FSA funds. Before your 2016 plan year comes to a close, use your remaining funds to lay a healthy foundation for 2017!
- First Aid Kits
You may have a first aid kit at home, but what about your car, boat or workplace? Accidents happen when you least expect them, so be prepared for the worst wherever you're heading with FSA eligible first aid supplies.
- Mineral Sunscreen
The sun's rays are dangerous for your skin during any season, so if you'll be spending an extended amount of time outdoors in the coming months, make sure your skin is protected with mineral sunscreen! These products do not absorb into the skin, offer broad spectrum protection against UVA/UVB rays and are ready to protect from the sun as soon as they're applied.
- Sunscreen Lip Balm with SPF 15+
Don't let your lips suffer from a lack of sun protection year-round. Sun care lip balms that contain a sun protection factor of 15 or above are FSA eligible! Apply it before heading outdoors to safeguard your lips from the elements.
Check Out: Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lip Balm SPF 50
Bandages are staples of the modern household that can handle cuts, scratches and bruises large and small. They can also run out fast over the course of the year, so this is the perfect opportunity to plan ahead.
- Neck Supports
Orthopedic neck supports are considered FSA eligible expenses, so if you're traveling in the future or simply need some pain relief when you're lounging around the house, these neck pillows can make a huge difference!
Check Out: IMAK HappiNeck Orthopedic Neck Support
- Contact Lens Accessories
In addition to contact lenses being FSA eligible, products like lens solution, carrying cases and other accessories are eligible for reimbursement as well.
- Eyeglass Accessories
On the opposite end of the spectrum, eyeglass wearers have plenty of care considerations of their own when maintaining their eyewear. Cleaning clothes, eyeglass repair kits and other accessories are FSA eligible, so use your benefit to ensure they're in great shape year-round.
Has your family's thermometer seen better days? These devices have evolved by leaps and bounds in recent years to make taking a temperature easier than ever. Oral, in-ear, forehead and other designs are all eligible with an FSA!
Check Out: Braun Forehead Thermometer
- Blood Pressure Monitor
If you or a loved one has a history of hypertension or a family history of heart disease, blood pressure monitoring is a smart choice for future health decisions. Smartphone-enabled blood pressure monitors make it easier than ever to track numbers and share them with healthcare professionals to better realize your long-term health goals.
Check Out: Qardio Arm Wireless Blood Pressure Monitor
If you don't have a special someone to spend the day with, cure a bad case of the Valentine's Day Blues with some productive online shopping! Caring about your health is the best way to shower yourself with love this holiday. There are many ways to pamper yourself this day and feel like the best and most confident you yet.
Put on that Sports Gear and Get Active
Did you purchase a new set of activewear that you have been itching to show-off? Perhaps there's a sport or activity that you used to play or do all the time but haven't had the chance to in a while. Today is as good as any to get out there and take a one day ski-trip, play some pickup basketball, or go for a jog in your neighborhood trail.
Destress and Declutter your Mind
Take this day as a reset button to relax and clear your mind from anything that might have been weighing you down. Sooth aches and pains with a relaxation mask, close your eyes, and settle into a calm with some calming meditation music or natural sounds. A slower tempo music can quiet your mind and relax your muscles, making you feel soothed.
Cleanse and Moisturize for a Healthy Skin
Taking care of your skin can give you a glow that's not just skin deep. Part of feeling good is waking up to a fresh and healthy skin, especially in the winter months when it's easy for your skin to dry out and sting or itch a little. Natural toners will give you a pure cleaning that refines pores, and gently remove excess oil, dirt, and makeup residue, giving you an evenly toned and smooth skin to take on the day.
Take some time off
Don't dread the arrival of Valentine's Day when you have the power to turn a negative experience into a positive one! Take some time off around Valentine's Day to visit friends or family members, or use this as your chance to escape the brutal winter weather and head off to a warmer part of the globe! Before you find yourself in a tropical location, however, be sure to use your FSA to pick up mineral sunscreen to protect against nasty sunburns and future complications! These products are active as soon as they touch the skin, provide ample water and sweat resistance and broad spectrum protection against UVA/UVB rays that contribute to the formation of skin cancer.
When you think of sunscreen, what usually comes to mind? Days at the beach, long summer afternoons or those irritating sunburns when you forget to apply? While most people reserve their sunscreen use for the warmer months, in reality the danger of the sun's rays is ever-present during any time of the year!
As this winter gets into full swing, don't let your family's sun care regimen fall by the wayside. While you may not think that the sun is a major factor in the winter months, you absolutely need sun protection when outdoors for long periods of time during the winter. Here are a few reasons why you should use your FSA card to stock up on sunscreen for the whole family in 2017.
- 80 percent of UV rays can penetrate clouds
While it may be more overcast and cloudy during this time of year, don't become complacent with your sun care regimen when venturing outdoors. Cloud cover does not guarantee that the sun's most damaging rays, and the American Academy of Dermatology reports that up to 80 percent of UVA and UVB rays can pass through clouds and be absorbed through the skin. UVA rays penetrate deeper through the top skin layers to cause premature signs of aging, while UVB rays are the primary cause of sun damage and can contribute to skin cancer formation. Even when it's cloudy, use an SPF 30+ sunscreen on exposed skin!
- Make the switch to mineral sunscreen
Are you using chemical sunscreen or mineral (physical) sunscreen? If you're looking for the best year-round protection, mineral sunscreen is the best option. Chemical sunscreen usually consists of UVA and UVB blockers and can be harmful to the skin with repeated use, as opposed to true broad spectrum coverage offered by mineral variants. While they may take a bit longer to apply, mineral sunscreen that contains helpful ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium oxide works for much longer and requires less re-application.
- Practice proper lip care
Dry skin is far more susceptible to the sun's rays, and chapped lips are extremely common during the winter months. As the season gets underway, make sure your lip care regimen is up to par to ensure that you're not putting your lips at further risk of sun damage. Better yet, opt for a lip balm that has SPF protection in addition to skin nourishing ingredients. Lip balms with sunscreen rated SPF 15+ are eligible for reimbursement with an FSA or HSA, so use your benefit to cover this winter necessity.
- Enhance your diet
Did you know that what you eat can supplement your skin's natural sun protection and resistance to sun damage? It's true! Natural vitamins and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, beta carotene, vitamin E and more can boost the body's ability to protect and repair the skin after being exposed to sunlight. Some foods to keep in mind year-round include citrus fruits, carrots, strawberries, green tea, pomegranates, almonds, red grapes and leafy green vegetables.
Keep your family safe from the sun's rays in any season by shopping for sun protection products for the whole family at FSAstore.com! We have the web's largest selection of FSA-eligible items to help you maximize the potential of your healthcare benefits.