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  • January 14, 2022

    By Allison Larson, MD

    Whether you’re a winter sports enthusiast or spend the season curled up by the fireplace, the low humidity, bitter winds, and dry indoor heat that accompany cold weather can deplete your skin’s natural moisture. Dry skin is not only painful, uncomfortable, and irritating; it also can lead to skin conditions such as eczema, which results in itchy, red, bumpy skin patches. 

    Follow these six tips to prevent and treat skin damage caused by winter dryness.

    1. Do: Wear sunscreen all year long.

    UV rays can easily penetrate cloudy skies to dry out exposed skin. And when the sun is shining, snow and ice reflect its rays, increasing UV exposure. 

    Getting a sunburn can cause severe dryness, premature aging of the skin, and skin cancer. Snow or shine, apply sunscreen before participating in any outdoor activity during the winter—especially if you take a tropical vacation to escape the cold; your skin is less accustomed to sunlight and more likely to burn quickly.

    The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends sunscreen that offers protection against both UVA and UVB rays, and offers a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30.

    That being said, if you are considering laser skin treatments to reduce wrinkles, hair, blemishes, or acne scars, winter is a better time to receive these procedures. Sun exposure shortly after a treatment increases the risk of hyperpigmentation (darkening of the skin), and people are less likely to spend time outside during the winter.

    Related reading: 7 Simple Ways to Protect Your Skin in the Sun

    2. Do: Skip products with drying ingredients.

    Soaps or facial products you use in warm weather with no issues may irritate your skin during colder seasons. This is because they contain ingredients that can cause dryness, but the effects aren’t noticeable until they’re worsened by the dry winter climate.

    You may need to take a break from:

    • Anti-acne medications containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid
    • Antibacterial and detergent-based soap
    • Anything containing fragrance, from soap to hand sanitizer

    Hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer, which contains a high level of skin-drying alcohol, cannot be avoided; we need to maintain good hand hygiene to stop the spread of germs. If your job or lifestyle requires frequent hand washing or sanitizing, routinely apply hand cream throughout the day as well.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have seen a lot of people develop hand dermatitis—a condition with itchy, burning skin that can swell and blister—due to constant hand washing. Sometimes the fix is as simple as changing the soap they're using. Sensitive-skin soap is the best product for dry skin; it typically foams up less but still cleans the skin efficiently.

    3. Do: Pay closer attention to thick skin.

    Areas of thin skin, such as the face and backs of your hands, are usually exposed to the wind and sun the most. It’s easy to tell when they start drying out. But the thick skin on your palms and bottoms of your feet is also prone to dryness—and tends to receive less attention.

    When thick skin gets dry, fissures form. You’ll see the surface turn white and scaly; then deep, linear cracks will appear. It isn’t as pliable as thin skin. When you’re constantly on your feet or using your hands to work, cook, and everything in between, dry thick skin cracks instead of flexing with your movements. 

    To soften cracked skin, gently massage a heavy-duty moisturizer—such as Vaseline—into the affected area once or twice a day. You can also talk with your doctor about using a skin-safe adhesive to close the fissures and help them heal faster.

    Related reading:  Follow these 5 Tips for Healthy Skin

    4. Don’t believe the myth that drinking more water will fix dry skin.

    Contrary to popular belief, the amount of water or fluids you drink does not play a major role in skin hydration—unless you’re severely dehydrated. In the winter, especially, dry skin is caused by external elements; it should be treated from the outside as well. 

    The best way to keep skin hydrated and healthy is to apply fragrance-free cream or ointment—not lotion—to damp skin after a shower or bath.
    Some people need additional moisturizers for their hands, legs, or other areas prone to dryness.

    While some lotions are made better than others, most are a combination of water and powder that evaporates quickly. Creams and ointments work better because they contain ingredients that can help rebuild your skin barrier. 

    Look for products with ceramide, a fatty acid that helps rebuild the fat and protein barrier that holds your skin cells together. The AAD also recommends moisturizing ingredients such as:

    • Dimethicone
    • Glycerin
    • Jojoba oil
    • Lanolin
    • Mineral oil
    • Petrolatum
    • Shea butter

    For severely dry skin, you can try a “wet wrap” technique:

    1. Rinse a pair of tight-fitting pajamas in warm water and wring them out so they’re damp, not wet.
    2. Apply cream or ointment to your skin.
    3. Put on the damp pajamas, followed by a pair of dry pajamas, and wear the ensemble for several hours.

    Dampness makes your skin more permeable and better able to absorb hydrating products. If the wet wrap or over-the-counter products aren’t working for you, talk with a dermatologist about prescription skin hydration options. 

    Drinking more water isn’t the answer to dry winter skin. The best solution is to apply fragrance-free cream or ointment directly to damp skin. Get more cold weather #SkinCareTips from a dermatologist in this blog:
    Click to Tweet


    5. Don’t confuse skin conditions with dryness.

    Skin conditions are often mistaken for dry skin because peeling or flaking are common symptoms. Redness of the skin or itching in addition to dryness and flaking indicates a skin condition that may need more than an over-the-counter moisturizer.

    Skin cells are anchored together by a lipid and protein layer (like a brick and mortar wall). With very dry skin, the seal on this wall or barrier is not fully intact and water evaporates out of the skin’s surface. The skin will become itchy and red in addition to scaly or flaky. If you experience these symptoms, visit with a dermatologist.

    6. Don’t wait for symptoms to take care of dry skin.

    Be proactive—the best way to maintain moisture is to apply hydrating creams and ointments directly to your skin on a regular basis. Start by applying them as part of your morning routine. Once you get used to that, add a nighttime application. And carry a container of it when you’re on the go or keep it in an easily accessible location at work.


    You can’t avoid dry air, but you can take precautions to reduce its harsh effects on your skin. If over-the-counter products don’t seem to help, our dermatologists can provide an individualized treatment plan. Hydrated skin is healthy skin!

    Does your skin get drier as the air gets colder?

    Our dermatologists can help.

    Call 202-877-DOCS (3627) or Request an Appointment

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  • March 01, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    The new Georgetown-MedStar IRB system was installed on November 29, 2018 for both Georgetown University (GU) and MedStar Health and has been the only active system in use since then, with hundreds of protocols now submitted and managed through this electronic platform.  Nonetheless, we continue to make additional improvements and progress on migrating studies over to the new electronic system and identifying continued areas of concern.

    All new submissions for IRB review, including modifications and continuing review of active projects must be submitted through the new eIRB platform at

    Logging In

    All individuals to be listed on a study submission in Huron must have a valid Huron ID.

    Individuals who do not have a MedStar ID or Huron login must request one to obtain access to the system. Submissions for new accounts can be made in MedStar’s ASAP request system. These requests can be entered by your department head or manager. ASAP can be accessed here or  through StarPort following this path: Select Departments > Information Services > ASAP – System Access Requests.

    Proxy Designation
    The PI Proxy can perform IRB submission responsibilities such as submitting studies, modifications, continuing reviews, and reportable new information. The principal investigator is responsible for ensuring these procedures are carried out, and that submissions are complete and accurate. The PI Proxy must be a study team member with engagement in the study conduct. A PI can designate a PI proxy at the time of study submission and must be assigned protocol by protocol. Designation of a PI Proxy does not defer PI responsibility in the conduct of research as defined in regulations, policies, and the Investigator Manual (HRP-103).

    The PI proxy must provide a substantial contribution to the conception or design of the work; the implementation of the work; provides regulatory support to the work; or the acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data for the work.

    Data Migration
    Protocol migration is nearing completion with over 98% of studies migrated from InfoEd to the new IRB platform. Reminder: Closed projects, those that were determined to be exempt, or those that were reviewed by an external IRB were not migrated.

    In addition, limited administrative information was migrated from InfoEd to Huron to create a “protocol shell”. This protocol shell will need to be updated at the time of continuing review or modification, whichever comes first. This needs to be completed through the submission of a combined continuing review/modification request.

    When submitting a continuing review for the first time in the new system if a modification was not previously submitted, the continuing review must be submitted as a combined continuing review/modification so protocol documents can be uploaded to the study. Investigative sites generally have a 12 month grace period to upload documents and update the record. When submitting the combined continuing review/modification request investigative sites should upload the most current version of the protocol, consent(s), and other study documents.

    Continuing reviews submitted without modification will be returned to the investigative site as they do not allow for the upload of existing or new documents.

    Please contact the Office of Research Integrity at if you have any questions.

    If you’d like to stay informed and have access to detailed information on training schedules, access to the system, links to policies, forms and templates as well as quick reference guides, training materials, and frequently asked questions, please visit here.

  • March 01, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Every February at MHRI, we celebrate “Heart Healthy” and take the time to “Go Red!” for heart health. The MHRI Associate Engagement Committee invited associates to wear red in support of the American Heart Association’s (AHA) fight against heart disease in February. From February 2 until February 20, associates gathered together to show their commitment to heart health.

    Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At MedStar Health Research Institute, many of our research efforts are designed to improve quality of life for heart patients. Chances are we all know someone affected by heart disease and stroke because about 2200 Americans die of cardiovascular disease each day. That’s an average of one death every forty seconds.

    As we have for the last seven years, we accepted submissions for a photo challenge! Associates showed off in their red outfits and team spirit. View all the photo submissions from MHRI teams below. Thank you to all who took the time to participate. Winners will be announced in an upcoming edition of Important Things to Know for all MHRI associates.

    Thank you to all who showed their support for this important cause!

    Take the time to take care of your heart. You can learn more about taking care of your heart health from the MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute:

    On behalf of the MHRI Associate Engagement Committee, take care of your heart!

  • March 01, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who had articles published in February 2019. The selected articles and link to PubMed provided below represent the body of work completed by MedStar Health investigators, physicians, and associates and published in peer-reviewed journals last month. The list is compiled from PubMed for any author using “MedStar” in the author affiliation. Congratulations to this month’s authors. We look forward to seeing your future research.

    View the full list of publications on here.

    Selected research:

    1. Management of Cardiovascular Disease in Women With Breast Cancer
      Circulation, DOI: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.039371
      Barish R, Lynce F, Unger K, Barac A.

    2. High Sleep Disturbance and Longer Concussion Duration in Repeat Concussions
      Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 2019. DOI: 1080/15402002.2019.1578223
      Oyegbile TO, Dougherty A, Tanveer S, Zecavati N, Delasobera BE.

    3. A Decade of Health Information Technology Usability Challenges and the Path Forward
      JAMA, 2019. DOI: 1001/jama.2019.0161
      Ratwani RM, Reider J, Singh H.

    4. Hyponatremia Is Associated With Increased Osteoporosis and Bone Fractures in Patients With Diabetes With Matched Glycemic Control
      Journal of the Endocrine Society, 2019. DOI: 10.1210/js.2018-00320
      Usala RL, Fernandez SJ, Mete M, Shara NM, Verbalis JG.

    5. Iatrogenic Femur Fracture Following Medial Femoral Condyle Flap Harvest Eventually Requiring Total Knee Arthroplasty in One Patient
      Journal of Hand Surgery, 2019. DOI: 10.1177/1753193418813687
      Son JH, Giladi AM, Higgins JP.
  • March 01, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    On behalf of Christopher Chute, MD, DrPH, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Chair of the CRISP Research Subcommittee, you are invited to the first CRISP-Enabled Research Symposium.

    The Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients (CRISP) is the not-for-profit state-designated Health Information Exchange (HIE) for Maryland and also serves the District of Columbia, West Virginia, and the Mid-Atlantic region. CRISP provides a growing assortment of high-volume clinical data exchange services through a collaboration with healthcare stakeholders throughout the region. Every week, CRISP delivers millions of clinical documents, lab reports, clinical encounter notifications, imaging studies, and other clinical data to providers, hospitals, long-term and post-acute care facilities and others.

    In 2016, CRISP received state regulatory approval to offer access to data services to clinical researchers under specific approved use cases through a data request process. The CRISP Research Initiative is now supporting more than a dozen studies and our supported researchers would like to share with you some of their experiences.

    If you are a researcher who does clinical studies on consented patients and need to follow them over time, CRISP can provide a cost-effective and more comprehensive approach to understanding a patient’s experience in the healthcare system versus relying on research subject recall, chart requests, or other traditional methods. CRISP also provides access to certain HIPAA safe harbor data sets with patient identification removed – such as the case mix data available through the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC).

    Come and learn about how the program works and how it supports various clinical studies. We will also discuss future directions for CRISP’s support of clinical research and you will have an opportunity to provide input on where we go from here. Please register so we know you plan to attend. Following the 90-minute symposium, we will have a reception to allow the conversation to continue.

    Thursday, March 14th, 2019
    3:30pm to 5:30pm

    Johns Hopkins University Tilghman Auditorium
    720 Rutland Ave
    Baltimore, MD 21205

    To register for free, visit If you have any questions, please contact Dr. Ross Martin, Program Director of the CRISP Research Initiative at or 202-697-3077

  • March 01, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Organized by the Department of Continuing Professional Education, MedStar Health is offering a variety of CE conferences this spring that provide an opportunity to gain knowledge of new treatments and techniques and network with leaders in the field through interactive case studies and presentations. MedStar associates may earn CE credits and discounted registration is available. For more information and to stay up to date, please visit

    Kidney and Bladder Cancers: Updates on Clinical Management 2019March 23
    Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center
    Course Co-Directors: Michael B. Atkins, MD; Keith J. Kowalczyk, MD; George K. Philips, MBBS, MD, MPH; Lambros Stamatakis, MD
    MedStar Associates receive 25% off with code: KBCM
    MedStar Residents and Fellows can attend for FREE with code: MEDRFC

    MedStar Genetic Medicine: Pharmacogenomics 2019 – March 23
    Bethesda Marriott, Bethesda, MD
    Course Co-Directors: Sandra M. Swain, MD; James C. Welsh, MD, MBA, MPH; D. Max Smith, PharmD

    Diabetic Limb Salvage Conference 2019 April 4-6 
    Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center
    Course Chairman: Christopher E. Attinger, MD; John S. Steinberg, DPM
    MedStar Associates pay $150 with code: MSH150

    Play with Aces and Always Win: Pelvic Surgery at its Best April 5-6
    Washington Marriott at Metro Center, Washington, D.C.,
    Course Director: Vadim V. Morozov, MD
    Course Co-Director: James K. Robinson, MD, MS
    MedStar Associates receive $200 off registration with code: PSMED

    2019 Comprehensive Stroke Symposium: A New Era of Acute Stroke Care May 3-4
    Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center, Rockville, MD
    Course Co-Directors: Richard T. Benson, MD, PhD; Rocco A. Armonda, MD

    Frontline Cardiology 2019: Cardiovascular Care in the Community May 18th
    College Park Marriott
    Course Directors: Caroline I. Valdiviezo, MD; Allen J. Taylor, MD; Sriram Padmanabhan, MD
    Course Co-Director: James C. Welsh, MD, MBA, MPH
    MedStar Associates can attend for FREE with code: FC2019MS

    Updates in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases 2019 May 4
    Ritz-Carlton, Tyson’s Corner
    Course Directors: Nidhi Malhotra, MD; Mark C. Mattar, MD
    MedStar Associates can attend for FREE with code: IBDM

    Abdominal Wall Reconstruction June 6-8
    Grand Hyatt Washington, D.C.,
    Conference Chair: Parag Bhanot, MD
    Course Directors: Karen Kim Evans, MD; Jeffrey E. Janis, MD; William H. Hope, MD
    MedStar Associates pay $100 with code: AWR100

    Mid-Atlantic Ovarian Cancer Symposium 2019 June 15
    Bethesda Marriott
    Course Directors: Paul Sugarbaker, MD; Lana Bijelic, MD; Louis A. Dainty, MD

  • March 01, 2019

    By MedStar Health

    Recent collaborative research sought to assess the effect of interpersonal interaction on genderism and transphobia in graduate medical education. Leon L. Lai, MD from MedStar Washington Hospital Center and Director of Ryan White HIV Services Parts C and D at MedStar Health Research Institute conducted “Effect of a Transgender Speaker Panel on Genderism and Transphobia in Graduate Medical Education”, to examine the effects of education on transgender medical care to decrease physician bias and improve healthcare for transgender patients.

    In general, the medical community has failed to provide competent care to gender minorities (transgender and gender nonbinary individuals), due to lack of medical education. This study sought to address the gap between physician genderism and transphobia associated with education in the care of gender minorities.

    The goal of the research was to identify the effect of a standard lecture vs. standard lecture plus patient panel on genderism and transphobia on medical residents. An anonymous paired pre- and post-intervention survey was administered to MedStar Washington Hospital Center internal medicine residents. Attitudes towards transgender individuals were assessed using the Genderism and Transphobia Scale (GTS) before and after the intervention. The intervention was a standard hour-long Grand Rounds lecture on primary care of the transgender patient followed by a representative transgender speaker panel composed of a transgender female lawyer, a transmasculine activist, and the parent of a transgender child.

    Analysis from 45 available respondents concluded that there is indeed a lack of medical school education on transgender health. 87% of primarily international medical graduates reported a median of 2 hours spent on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) issues in medical schools while 50% reported only 1 hour or less and 80% stated the quality of this education as poor or very poor. Of the 27 respondents that completed both surveys, there was a significant difference in the change of those attending the lecture and panel compared to the lecture alone. The combination of lecture and panel significantly decreased genderism and transphobia compared to the lecture alone.

    The study concluded that medical schools need to improve their education on transgender health in order to close the gap in the care of gender minorities. As a result, graduate medical education should increase the amount of time spent and the quality of education in an attempt to decrease genderism and transphobia among physicians. For next steps, Dr. Lai would like to consider a cross-over study design and obtain a larger sample to better measure sustaining attitude changes.

    This research was presented as part of the MedStar Health Teaching and Research Scholars Capstone event, which culminates both the two-year programs.