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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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  • November 01, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Recent collaborative research sought to understand the contraceptive practices and fertility plans among transgender men. The study sought to address a gap in literature for family planning for individuals assigned female at birth and self-identified along the masculine spectrum.

    The research team from MedStar Washington Hospital Center, MedStar Health Research Institute, Children’s National Health System, and the Mazzoni Center found that transgender men experience unintended pregnancies, as well as future fertility desires, after transitioning and there is a lack of ongoing reproductive healthcare education for this unique population. “Family Planning and Contraception Use in Transgender Men” was published in Contraception. The research team was Alexis Light, MD, MPH; Lin-Fan Wang, MD; Veronica Gomez-Lobo, MD; and Alexander Zeymo.

    The goal of the research was to identify the current family planning practices and pregnancy desires within the transgender men population. The study utilized an anonymous online survey that was distributed at six LGBT health centers throughout the United States, 26 transgender healthcare providers, and 14 online listservs and Facebook groups for transgender men. The survey included questions regarding general health, fertility desires, use of testosterone, contraceptive use, and pregnancy history.

    Analysis from 197 respondents concluded that participants who had never taken hormones were nearly three times more likely to have been pregnant than those who have taken testosterone. A majority of the study participants had the desire to become parents, while a significant group of participants was afraid of not achieving the desired pregnancy. Surprisingly, for those that were not afraid of pregnancy, 51% reported that their healthcare providers had not asked about their fertility desires. The majority of men reported using, or had used, contraception options that included condoms, pills, and intrauterine devices.

    The study concluded that transgender men use contraception, experience pregnancy, and have abortions, even after transitioning. The results also display the need for counseling and ongoing care of healthcare providers to transgender men regarding reproductive health, including contraceptive and conception counseling. Further research is needed to assess fertility desires, contraceptive effectiveness, and unintended pregnancy to develop best practices for family planning and pregnancy desires in the transgender men community.

  • November 01, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) is now accepting applications for its KL2 Junior Faculty Scholars Program. Projects that are novel, inter- or multi-disciplinary and collaborative will be favored. The KL2 scholars will be awarded up to $90, 000 salary support and $40,000 project support per year (for up to two years).

    Who is eligible: Junior Faculty with a full-time or equivalent appointment at a GHUCCTS institution (Georgetown University, Howard University, or MedStar Health) at the time of award activation. Scholars must devote 75% effort to the program for three years; scholars must be US Citizens, Non-citizen Nationals, or Permanent Residents. Individuals who were, or currently are Principal Investigator of NIH R01, P01 or P50 subprojects, or individual K (e.g., K01, K08, K22, K23) grant ARE NOT eligible; current/former PIs of non-NIH peer reviewed research grants >$100k annual direct costs are ineligible.


    Pre-Applications are due NOVEMBER 29, 2018
    Final Applications  are due JANUARY 24, 2019

    Online Informational Sessions:
    November 6th - 12:00PM
    November 19th - 5:00PM

    To register for the sessions, e-mail GHUCCTS.EDUCATION@GEORGETOWN.EDU
    Learn more on the GHUCCTS website

    QUESTIONS? Contact the Executive Committee:
    Jason G. Umans, MD, PhD
    Dexter L. Lee, PhD
    Kathryn Sandberg, PhD

  • November 01, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) and the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) host Research Grand Rounds on the first Friday of each month, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m., followed by lunch at 1:00pm. These interdisciplinary grand rounds are appropriate not only for principal investigators, but also for clinical and research trainees and for all members of the research team. They are intended to introduce projects, approaches, research methods, populations and resources which are of interest throughout all disciplines, and could lead to new collaborations and research opportunities.

    Epidemiology of Heart Failure: Cross Disciplinary Insights from Community-Based Cohort Studies

    Vasan Ramachandran, M.D., DM
    Professor and Chief Preventive Medicine and Epidemiologist Boston University
    Principal Investigator and Director, The Framingham Heart Study

    Friday, December 7, 2018
    12 Noon to 1 PM – Presentation
    1 PM to 1:30 PM – Lunch
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center, 6th Floor, CTEC Auditorium
    110 Irving Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 20010

    For those located at remote sites and unable to attend in-person, log on to on December 7, 2018, at 12:00 Noon to hear Dr. Ramachandran’s presentation.

    For more information, please contact or visit

  • November 01, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    At the recent MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI) Fall Town Halls, associates gathered at three of our locations to be informed and engaged with what’s taking place across the MedStar Health System. Thank you to all the Research Institute associates that joined us at University Town Center, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, and MedStar Washington Hospital Center to connect with other associates and learn about the latest endeavors at the Research Institute.

    Thank you to Joan Bardsley, Karen Wade, and Lauren Moffat for sharing an impactful safety moment that focused on associate safety. The tools used to keep patients safe, including HRO principals, can be applied to associate situations as well. Four key points in associate safety are:

    1. Be mindful: Keep spaces neat and clean to avoid slips, trips, and falls.
    2. Be the voice: Report workplace violence. Workplace violence of any kind is not tolerated and is NOT part of the job.
    3. Be safe when handling patients: Always use safe patient handling equipment when transferring, lifting, or moving patients.
    4. Be smart with sharps: Prevent sharps injuries with preparation, and by activating the safety devices and disposing of sharps with care.

    The main portion of the town hall was dedicated to a deep dive into two sections of the FY 2019 operating plan. Each year, the Research Institute creates a Plan on a Page, based on the strategic goals for the year. The plan looks both outward and inward to develop goals for all of the Research Institute. All MHRI associates are provided the plan-on-a-page by their manager. If you did not receive a copy, you can download a digital version here.

    Building on work that was presented at a recent MHRI Board of Director’s Meeting, Dr. Weissman shared what the future of big data and artificial intelligence may look like for research at MHRI in the future. MHRI has great opportunity to be on the front line as the place to test these innovations in a real-world healthcare setting.

    Dr. Weissman shared an update on the Office of Research Integrity.  The department is in the process of rejuvenating their current processes, recruiting a new director, and working with Georgetown to implement a new eIRB system that will be going live this month. You can learn more about the new Georgetown-MedStar IRB System here.

    Thank you to all who made a contribution to The Power to Heal campaign.  These funds go towards the New Investigator Fund which supports scientific research by new MedStar Health investigators. If you haven't made a donation yet, there is still time. Donations are being accepted until the end of the year.

    Our HR Business Partner provided associates with information regarding professional development, educational assistance, annual open enrollment, flu shots, and the SiTEL mandatory trainings in an effort to keep associates up to date with matters that need attention. Explore all of your benefits and HR information in one place with myHR at For general HR inquiries and assistance, you may also contact the HR Solution Center at or 1-855-674-6947.

    You can download a PDF of all the slides from the town hall on StarPort here.

    Research would not be possible without our associates and without the patients who participate. Thank you for being a part of our vision to advance health through research.

  • November 01, 2018

    By MedStar Health Research Institute

    Annual Enrollment is underway and myHR is your one-stop for all of the information you need to choose the right benefits plan for 2019. Before enrolling, take time to visit myHR to compare plans and explore all of the options available to you. Take time to review your enrollment packet and determine the right options for you and your family.

    You must enroll online through myHR at by November 19 to change your benefits for 2019 and participate in Flexible Spending Accounts. If you wish to keep your current benefits coverage for 2019 (medical, dental, vision, life insurance, long-term disability additional coverage, legal resources, and voluntary benefits) for 2019, you do not need to enroll online. Your 2018 benefit elections and eligible enrolled dependents will roll over to 2019, except for Flexible Spending Account elections. You must enroll (or re-enroll) each year in a Healthcare Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and/or Dependent Care FSA, even if you opt to keep your current benefits.

    New for 2019

    • Higher copay for emergency care. The copay for emergency care is increasing from $125 to $250 for both the MedStar Select and CareFirst medical plans. Like health systems nationwide, MedStar is experiencing increased costs for its associate medical plans, including emergency care services. MedStar’s change aligns with several federal, state and private insurance plans that have increased emergency care visit copays to encourage choosing another option for non-emergent care. Across the U.S., there are 128 million Emergency Department (ED) visits each year, with 63 percent for non-life threatening emergencies.Emergency Departments should be used only for true medical emergencies; it can be the most expensive option if associates don’t have a true emergency. Before they receive care, associates should consider all of their options. MedStar Health Urgent Care provides non-emergent care while saving associates time and money. Additionally, MedStar eVisit is a convenient, less costly option for minor illnesses and injuries, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Emergency Departments should only be used for emergency care.
    • MedStar Now for primary and urgent care: MedStar Now is a convenient option for helping you determine the appropriate care if you experience an illness or injury, or need a vaccine, medical test or screening. The online tool——guides you to the right care based on your symptoms and MedStar services near you, including urgent care, primary care, Emergency Department, and MedStar eVisit. Based on responses from a brief questionnaire, MedStar Now directs you to the care you need, when and where you need it.

    Looking for more information about the total rewards package offered to you and your dependents? Take some time to attend a benefits fair and learn more. The full schedule of fairs is available here.

    Don’t miss your chance to save $360

    Complete the MyHealth Questionnaire during Annual Enrollment and save up to $30 a month on MedStar Select or CareFirst medical premiums.

    MyHealth Questionnaire: It’s All About You

    Wellness is a key component of a healthy lifestyle and MedStar Health is committed to helping you achieve your health and wellness goals. When you are in good health and feel well, you are more likely to be at your best at home and work.

    One way to get a snapshot of your overall health is by completing the annual MyHealth Questionnaire, which saves you approximately $360 a year on your MedStar Select or CareFirst medical premium. You must complete the questionnaire each year to receive the discount. The questionnaire assesses your numbers, such as blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol, as well as lifestyle habits, to determine your overall health status and lifestyle risks.

    Your personalized results help guide your health goals and you can take advantage of MedStar MyHealth programs to support your wellness, including:

    • Free one-on-one health coaching through Coach On Call program
    • Wellness activities at your work location
    • Programs that help you eat healthily or quit smoking

    No one from MedStar will see your personalized results and they do not affect your health coverage.

    Get started with your MyHealth Questionnaire at You have until Nov. 29 to complete the questionnaire and receive savings on your 2019 medical premium.

  • November 01, 2018

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all MedStar researchers who had articles published in October 2018. 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. Eye Tracking in Surgical Education: Gaze-Based Dynamic Area of Interest can Discriminate Adverse Events and Expertise.
      Springer US, October 2018. DOI: 10.1007/s00464-018-6513-5
      Fitchel E, Lau N, Park J, Henrickson Parker S, Ponnala S, Fitzgibbons S, Safford SD.
    2. Corticosteroid or Hyaluronic Acid Injections to the Carpometacarpal Joint of the Thumb Joint are Associated with Early Complications After Subsequent Surgery.
      Journal of Hand Surgery (European Volume), October 2018. DOI: 10.1177/1753193418805391
      Giladi AM, Rahgozar P, Zhong L, Chung KC
    3. Epidemiology of Knee Internal Derangement Injuries in United States High School Girls' Lacrosse, 2008/09-2016/17 Academic Years.
      Research in Sports Medicine (An International Journal), October 2018. DOI: 10.1080/15438627.2018.1533471
      Tadlock BA, Pierpoint LA, Covassin T, Caswell SV, Lincoln AE, Kerr ZY
    4. Comparison of Coronary Revascularization Appropriateness for Non-Acute Coronary Syndrome Cases Under the 2017 Update vs the 2012 Appropriate Use Criteria.
      Catheterization and Cardiovascular Interventions, October 2018. DOI: 10.1002/ccd.27895
      Case BC, Geiser KM, Torguson R, Pichard AD, Satler LF, Waksman R, Ben-Dor I
    5. Comparison of Parental and Adolescent Views on the Confidential Interview and Adolescent Health Risk Behaviors within the Gynecologic Setting.
      Journal of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, October 2018. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpag.2018.03.006
      Trotman GE, Mackey E, Tefera E, Gomez-Lobo V.