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HOUSECalls: Questions About Saunas & Sunscreen

June 5, 2012 by Rose Hoban in Featured, HOUSE Calls

This week we respond to questions about saunas and last year’s sunscreen.

Dear HOUSE Calls,    

House calls logoI love to go to hot springs and saunas.  Is there any health benefit?

That sounds nice right about now.  Many people enjoy a sauna.

In so much as health is about how you feel and enjoying a sauna makes you feel better, than I guess it is good for your health. This may be because you almost have to relax in a hot tub (hard to check emails or answer the phone). We also know that hot tubs can help with some forms of chronic pain like arthritis and fibromyalgia. If you are asking about the widely reported healing benefits of hot springs and mineral springs, we know of no research to support those claims—but if it feels good, there is not much downside.

There are some risks associated with hot tubs, and those should be heeded. Take care not to get dehydrated, and follow suggested time limits (usually 10 minutes). Also avoid alcohol in the hot tub. It can impair judgment and contribute to dehydration. Enjoy a good soak.

Dear HOUSE Calls,

Can I use last year’s sun screen?

We don’t know of much research on this.

The manufacturer will recommend that you buy a new tube if it has been on the shelf for awhile (>1 year).  They also recommend storing it at room temperature (i.e. not in the pool bag in the car―good luck with that). We imagine that age and repeated heating can lead to slow degradation.  However, we use old sunscreen all the time for ourselves and our families and find that we don’t burn any easier.

We would rather you use old sunscreen than no sunscreen.  And remember to apply generously.

HOUSE Calls is a weekly column by Dr. Adam Zolotor, Dr. Adam Goldstein, and Dr. Cristy Page on behalf of YOUR HEALTH™ and the UNC Department of Family Medicine.

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About HOUSE Calls
Physicians from the UNC Department of Family Medicine’s YOUR HEALTH™ media bring you weekly information in response to your questions about health and medicine. Send us your questions or comments to

The HOUSE Calls staff:

Cristy Page Headshot Dr Cristy Page is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine. A former Morehead scholar, Dr. Page completed degrees in Medicine, Public Health and Family Medicine at UNC. Dr. Page practices full scope family medicine including obstetrics, and she is recognized for important innovations in maternal health, preventive medicine and group well-child care.

Adam Goldstein Headshot Dr. Adam Goldstein is a Professor of Family Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine. As a leading U.S. expert in primary care, Dr. Goldstein has a 20-year history in clinical practice, teaching, and research. He has published over 150 articles, essays, book chapters, and books.

Adam Zolotor Headshot Dr. Adam Zolotor is an Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine.  Dr. Zolotor Completed his training at the University of Michigan and the University of North Carolina.  He has been in practice for 10 years and and is a nationaly recognized expert in child abuse and child injury prevention.  He directs the Department of Family Medicine maternal and child health services. He is the author of more than 50 articles and book chapters.

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