Archive for May, 2009

Treating Sunburn with Emu Oil

Posted on May 31, 2009 with No Comments

A few posts back I mentioned Dermal Em sunburn treatment. Having grown-up in Florida and spending lot’s of time on the South Carolina coast has given me more exposure to the sun than I would like to count. Plus, as I ‘m getting into my 50′s I’m starting to see the results on my skin – a few spots on my arms and reappearing spider veins on my nose and cheeks.

My family returned Friday from a week at Edisto Beach. Everyone was tan except for my fair-skinned 14-year-old whose nose was burned, peeling and blistered. All of us have seen the signs of too much sun. His blistering had turned to scabs (yuk!) and I was afraid he would continue to pick and get some scarring.

We promptly sat him down and used some emu oil I had in the bathroom. Voila – 3 days have past and his nose is looking great…still burned and a bit scabbed, but you can tell the healing has begun and a lot of repair is in progress.

I have written a lot about emu oil. Yes, it is generally unknown as a remedy, but it has been in use for many years “down below” in Australia – where the bird is indigenous. It is a great product for treating burns, scars, stretchmarks, and lacerations from injury or surgery. Some folks are unfamiliar with it, but it has become widely used in many skin care and hair care products for its’ ability to penetrate deep into tissue promoting healing and collagen growth.

You might ask why I didn’t use Dermal Em, well because I didn’t have any. There is some at the plant, but it’s a two-hour drive and we wanted to get my son’s nose healing as soon as possible – hopefully avoiding any infection or further complications. Besides Dermal Em is emu oil with Vitamin E added and blended with menthol that helps cool the skin providing more immediate relief from sun burn.

Anyway, since this just happened Friday, I thought I would pass on some un-scientific, real-world results from just a couple of days application. With school out and many folks either heading to the pool, beach or at least more outside activities, it is good to know there is a very effective remedy for treating sunburn.

What Causes Spider Veins?

Posted on May 27, 2009 with No Comments

While there are several underlying reasons and causes of spider veins, the consensus seems to agree on pressure. Pressure from increased weight gain, pressure on the legs and thighs from fatty tissue or fluid build-up, pressure from plastic surgery (as in breast augmentation), or pressure related to being on your feet all the time (as in work-related).

How does pressure play a role?

Spider veins are considered the result of leaking through the vein walls which then coagulates leaving reddish, fine lines; poorly functioning or blocked valves which causes circulation “mis-direction” or blockage and swelling; or protrusion up and to the surface of the skin increasing visibility.

Presssure is considered a cause for many of these symptoms and ailments. Why? The first is the most obvious. Standing on our feet all day because of work or home chores can increase blood pressure to lower extremities – our legs, thighs, calves, etc. – pushing capillaries closer to the surface making them more visible. It can also increase pressure applied to the vein walls and structure increasing the propbability that leaking or malfunction can occur.

Similarly, weight gain – especially if related to cellulite build-up, can squeeze tissue and surrounding muscle making capillaries more visible and prominent while adding the risk of damage. It is also considered a valid cause that natural aging and associated free-radical damage complicates appearance. Many experts believe that free-radical damage caused by oxidization damages organs and tissue. UV rays, smoking, and alcohol use accelerate free-radical damage causing cell membranes to become weak. This can lead to leaking and poor circulation – giving rise to spider veins on the nose, cheeks, and underneath the eyes, as well.

In our next related post, I’ll discuss available spider vein treatment – sclerotherapy, laser and surgical removal and the use of vitamin k creams. Follow this link for more information on what causes spider veins.

Remedies for a Bad Sunburn

Posted on May 25, 2009 with No Comments

I just got back from 3 days at the beach, and as usual and am looking for remedies for a bad sunburn on my nose.

Finding relief for the burning and peeling go back to when I was a kid growing up in Orlando. My Dad, who was a Remedies for a Bad Sunburndentist, always had an Aloe plant in the backyard and sent us scrambling to peel open the leaves and wipe the gooey insides on our face.

It felt soothing and seemed to make everything OK until it started to dry – making our skin tight and dried-out. Aloe and lidocaine have since become popular ingredients helping soothe and cool sunburns all over the planet in OTC products. And, while the healing effects have become widely known, we have found there are options to heal and treat you can consider, especially of the burn is severe (which mine is borderline!)

I have written several times about emu oil. It is a very popular remedy in Australia and somewhat in New Zealand. It is one of the few oils used in skin care products that is considered a “carrier” oil – meaning it is capable and has properties to penetrate to the subcutaneous layer of the skin. While this may not seem too important, many creams and lotions do not have a carrier oil – primarily because of expense (it’s not cheap). The benefits, as they say, out way the costs. The ability to penetrate deep greatly improves it’s – and other ingredients its formulated with – efficacy or effectiveness. Especially when considering sun burn remedies, getting to the lower layers of tissue is paramount.

With that said, emu oil, does several other things. First it is widely used to treat burns in general. It is a natural anti-bacterial, helping wounds to remain sterilized and fighting off infection, a primary concern to fight infection. It is a natural moisturizer, antiseptic and promotes healthy skin cell and collagen renewal. This helps prevent scars and improves elasticity and pliability of tissue.

If combined with vitamin e and menthol, as with my favorite remedy for bad sunburn, Dermal Em, you you get the soothing and cooling relief with the benefit of the healing power and regenerative qualities needed to avoid tightening, itchy or excessive peeling.

While there is plenty of discussion as to the difference between “bad” and “severe”, the fundamental premise of treatment is the same:

  • Drink plenty of fluid to avoid dehydration and to maintain body fluids
  • Provide no open wounds, keep the affected area moisturized, clean and sterilized, if possible
  • To relieve pain, itchy and soreness, products based with with emu oil, lidocaine or menthol (peppermint, spearmint) can help with the “heat”.

The best remedies for a bad sunburn I have found combine emu oil, vitamin e and menthol. The skin gets some relief with a light cooling sensation to burned tissue (I like the smell also), and the vitamin e and emu oil do a great job helping heal the burn.

Improving Spa Profits – Part 2 – Managing Expenses

Posted on May 1, 2009 with No Comments

In the first part of this series on increasing spa profit, we talked about the three components of finance that are underIncreasing Spa Profit - Reducing Expenses our direct control – revenue, gross margin and expenses.

In the game of business, these are the three variables we can generally manipulate easily. External factors, weather, competition, new product introductions and regulatory issues have to be dealt with as they come. The big three (sales, costs, and profit margin) are generally under our control. Making each move in the right direction is our goal. Let’s take a look at expenses.

In 1991, my wife and I were 3 years into our first company. We had 7 offices spread across the southeast. The older offices were very profitable, the newer one, not so much. But, we were paying the bills and making the mortgage – ~$5 million of revenue and 32 employees. While we weren’t getting rich, we were comfortable – until Sadam Hussein invaded Kuwait. That sparked (or aggravated) an 18 month recession where we came close to losing the business.

Our response was professional (at least it felt that way). Having spent 5 years at IBM and coming out of b-school, we quickly put in place a “Cost Containment Plan”. While the title was a bit grander than the size of the company, I believe we did do a very good job identifying how to save money, reduce unwanted expenses, and discontinue costs. We employed ideas from staff, bankers, suppliers and the University of South Carolina’s Business School. Here’s what we did – hopefully a few ideas you might find useful.

  1. Have a meeting- As goofy as this may seem on the surface, getting everyone together to announce what the purpose is is critical. I have found when everyone has a clear understanding of the landscape of where we want to go or what we want to do, you get much better input. We had series of meetings. The first was to get as many cost savings ideas on the board as we could. I am a BIG fan of the giant-sized Post-It notes – you can write on them, them stick them on the wall – literally wall papering the conference room. These keep everyone focused and helps stay on task. In any initial meeting my rules have always been to get ideas on the board – no need to prioritize or critique – just keep the ideas flowing. It helps if you facilitate and “grease the tracks” to keep folks from snipe-ing each others ideas. Just keep it moving!
  2. Lists, lists, lists – Again, a bit goofy, but taking all those ideas, prioritizing and categorizing allows you to now distribute, review and consider your options. We would provide a meeting summary and ask everyone to review – while scheduling a follow-up meeting. We would ask everyone to give careful thought to any and all ideas with the PRIORITY being “What Ideas Can We Put In Place NOW ” that will save us money.
  3. Follow-up – Lists are good, but very similar to plans. Without someone to guard against their demise, lists can often find themselves stuck in a drawer or in a folder on a computer. I have felt someone needs to be the “list manager”…meaning they had responsibility to make sure everyone did what they were supposed to and followed-up with enough lead time to keep folks from coming to meetings empty-handed or headed! The biggest component to Follow-Up is having the “After Party”, or the meeting after someone has consolidated the ideas. Here’s where you can:
    1. Prioritize
    2. Assign responsibility
    3. Allocate resources
    4. Determine and notify of monitoring
    5. ID follow-up
  4. Implementation – While all this sounds and looks good, without implementation you won’t get results. Therein lies the benefit of the lists. Lists should be posted and each individual should have their own. Again, this all looks good and for those who don’t see the value, will think it’s “over-thinking” the issue. Well, I can tell you after seeing numerous companies – very small and very big – this works…may be a pain for those “shoot first” folks, but nevertheless, its the best process for getting the most done.

Alright, all this sounds good, but how do I cut costs and expenses?? I didn’t mean to ramble on about process, but the process will reveal ideas you would not have considered…therefore, it’s worth it. But, ideas…that’s right, ideas.

Ideas for Cost Savings

There will be a sub-part to this post where I am listing all the ideas from some of our cost-savings plans, but here are a few to get you started. Remember, expenses are just one of three things you should bee looking at.

  1. Staff expenses – In the 91-92′ recession, my wife and I cut our salary 4 times, then discontinued bonuses for managers, then cut managers salaries 15%. BTW – we asked the managers if they would rather take an across the board cut or lose a person on there staff…all voted for salary reduction. We discontinued temporary workers (completely), implemented a hiring freeze (no duh?), and banned OT for anyone who was hourly.
  2. Health – When our health program came up for renewal, we lowered the plan. I had always believed n the “Platinum” plan with all the bells and whistles – no more. Cut deductibles, copay’s, whatever you need. We also went from 100% employer paid premium to 90%.
  3. Telephone, office supplies, office cleaning, subscriptions, associations, et al. – anything and everything that showed-up on the income statement as an expense was exposed to scrutiny, change and evaluation. We cut-out LOTs of small miscellaneous costs. Again, making someone responsible for IDing these expenses, providing alternatives, and implementing change is critical.
  4. Advertising- Most advertising does not work. Yep, I’ll say it again….it doesn’t. I want to flush out some ideas that do in a latter post, but you should critically scrutinize ALL advertising.
  5. Travel, conferences, etc – For us (at that time) we spent a fair amount for a company our size traveling and periodically were attending shows, conferences, etc. We stopped all conferences and spent a lot of time driving rather than flying. Being a pilot I know there is great rationale for flying, but we just decided to drive…spending a lot of time on the phone in between cities.

I’ll list a few more ideas next time, but I have found that companies – even small ones – benefit greatly by sitting down and having a “jam session” to come up with creative ideas to cut costs. If you follow-up and make sure ideas are implemented, you can move the cost-containment program off your plate pretty quick. Though all of this sounds like a lot of work, 4-5 days of planning and discussing followed by a week of implementation will knock-out 80% of the projects. So, it’s worth a couple of weeks of time to decrease expenses by 15-30%? Yep, I think so!