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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 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    At MedStar Health, we are committed to creating a healthcare environment that fosters and supports education and research. To support this effort, we are very pleased to announce FOUR intramural grant funding opportunities that are now open.These research funding announcements have been developed to increase collaboration, support new investigators, and enhance the quality of care provided to our communities. Each funding opportunity is in a different domain, with the hope that each investigator will find an applicable internal grant opportunity.

    These research funding announcements have been developed to increase collaboration, support new investigators, and enhance the quality of care provided to our communities. Each funding opportunity is in a different domain, with the hope that each investigator will find an applicable internal grant opportunity.

    1. The 2017 New Investigator – Associate Giving Grant Fund is a grant opportunity made possible by our annual associate giving campaign. Because a researcher’s first years are so important, this grant opportunity will provide support to initiate research and complete pilot studies that can help build a robust research activity that will be competitive for external funding. Applications are due by midnight on April 3, 2017.
    2. The 2017 MedStar Diabetes Research Grant provides an opportunity for investigators interested in diabetes research and is made possible by a generous donation to advance diabetics health through research at MedStar Health. Applications are due by midnight on April 3, 2017.
    3. The 2017 Greenspring Financial Insurance Limited, Inc (GFIL), Grant Program. The purpose of this grant is to improve patient safety and prevent avoidable patient injury at MedStar Health through projects that identify innovative ways to address loss prevention in the areas of professional and general liability. Applications are due by midnight on April 3, 2017.
    4. GHUCCTS Pilot Translational and Clinical Studies Program. This grant is intended to support the promotion of interdisciplinary research that will translate basic findings into clinical applications and clinical research findings into community use in order to improve human health. Applications are due by COB Friday, March 10, 2017.

    You can view the full guidelines and RFPs for the available Intramural Grant Opportunities on the MHRI website here.

  • March 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    As announced in the July edition of Focus, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a new policy on use of a single institutional review board (IRB) for multi-site studies. The goal of this policy is to enhance and streamline the IRB review process so that multi-site research can proceed as effectively and expeditiously as possible.

    Originally scheduled for May 2017, this policy will now take effect September 25, 2017. Any competing grant applications (including contracts) for NIH-funded, multi-site studies with receipt dates on or after September 25, 2017, will need to adhere to this policy. All sites participating in a multi-site study are expected to rely on a single IRB. The single IRB may also act as the privacy board for that study

    NIH has released additional guidance, in the form of FAQs, on the handling of the costs associated with the implementation of the policy. 

    This policy applies to the domestic sites of NIH-funded, multi-site studies, where each site will conduct the same protocol involving non-exempt human subjects research, whether supported through grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts. All sites participating in a multi-site study are expected to rely on a single IRB.

    The NIH policy on IRB review can be viewed on their website. The notice of extension can be viewed here.

  • March 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Join the Center for Innovation and Leadership in Education (CENTILE) for an Experiential Grand Rounds with Helen Riess, MD.

    Dr. Riess is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, and the Director of Empathy and Relational Science Program, Massachusetts General Hospital.

    The goal of CENTILE is to serve as a central, GUMC-wide venue for fostering faculty collaboration, learning, and professional development in biomedical and health professions education. Learn more on their website.

    This event is open to GUMC and MedStar faculty, staff and students. To RSVP, please click here.

    March 6, 2017
    12:00 – 1:30pm
    Warwick Evans Conference Room
    Building D, Medical Center                    
    4000 Reservoir Rd NW, Washington, D.C.,

  • March 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    As part of the unified approach to human resources at MedStar, we are excited to let you know MedStar Health has partnered with EdAssist® to provide a best-in-class Educational Assistance Program for MedStar associates.

    Effective March 21, 2017, MedStar will be offering this new streamlined Educational Assistance Program to all benefit-eligible associates. The new web-based system will process all tuition benefit requests, making it easier for you to seek approvals and receive reimbursements. In addition, you will now have access to a network of over 220 schools offering discounted tuition rates, as well as educational and finance experts for individual education counseling to help you make the right decisions to achieve your educational goals. This new Educational Assistance Program will result in significant, positive changes in the way an associate’s education and career development is supported at MedStar, addressing concerns brought forth by associates during the bi-annual associate survey process.

    Professional Development at MHRI

    In addition to this new program, you will continue to have access to professional development funds to support education activities that may not be covered under this new program. There are no changes to the professional development process for MHRI associates. To apply for these funds, you will still need to submit an application through MHRI Human Resources. You can find the application on the HR StarPort Policies page.

    If you have questions on either educational assistance or professional development, please feel free to contact Susanne Selzer at


  • March 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Pictured here from left to right:  MedStar Washington Hospital Center Board Treasurer Stan Gutkowski; Earl Mozie, Roberto Perez, Stephen Willson, Rita Carswell, Jesse Jackson, Jakki Carter, Carrissa Greenwell, Maria Biscocho, Erin McDonnell, Phyllis Sams, President John Sullivan, and Hilary Hancock.

    The list has grown! Here are our SuperStars for this quarter.

    MedStar Washington Hospital Center has a long tradition of recognizing associates who not only rise to the occasion, but go above and beyond in assisting patients or colleagues within our community. We recently recognized several associates for their outstanding service, and we want to share their stories with you today.


    Recently, we experienced a sad event when a patient passed away in the OR. Before going to surgery, the patient had only very briefly been admitted to 2NW, where Erin McDonnell is a patient care manager. Even though the patient was not a 2NW patient at the time of death, Erin recognized the family’s need for help.

    She provided space and privacy on 2NW for the family to grieve, connected them with interpretive services, kept in communication with the holding area to let them know when the family would be coming, and provided ongoing support and kindness to the family. She even stayed beyond her shift to wait for additional family members to arrive.

    Erin’s kindness, dedication, and going above-and-beyond the call of duty made a real difference to this family during one of the most difficult times of their lives.


    This nomination comes from a Rapid Response Nurse, who wanted to convey her sincere appreciation for a team member in MRI. The nurse wrote that this associate’s “calm, patient manner was a great help to me during a Rapid Response call in the East Building MRI. Her knowledge of the emergency equipment availability and the location of supplies were instrumental in caring for this critically ill patient. I appreciated her assistance in transferring the patient with the rest of the Rapid Response to the Emergency Department. I also noticed that she went out of her way to gather all of the patient's belongings to accompany him to the ER."


    A nurse contacted Jakki Carter, seeking her support and advice to challenge an order for a procedure on a patient that she was not comfortable with. This nurse even brought her concerns to a physician, but the orders were not changed. The order directed this nurse to insert a Foley catheter on a patient who had a history of problems with Foley insertion. Jakki agreed with the nurse’s evaluation, and continued to escalate the concern several levels, until reaching the Urology attending. The attending agreed with Jakki that a specialist should do the insertion.

    Jakki is being recognized for supporting the team.


    One of our IV therapists learned one evening she would be the only one working her shift, due to a call out. She wrote, “I was lost and didn't know how I was going to serve all our patients.” Fortunately, this next super star – who already had worked a full shift – had stayed a little late to finish with a patient, and she volunteered to stay. “Before I knew it, it was 6 a.m., and Maria had stayed all night to help serve. Her act of selflessness brought me to tears.”

    STEPHEN WILLSON, Information Systems

    Stephen is an extraordinary IT associate who thinks broadly, and with the best interest of our hospital at heart. Last summer, when President Sullivan set a goal of 95 percent hand hygiene compliance, Stephen suggested to Public Affairs that the hospital time clock stations could support this goal by featuring a hand-hygiene message. This idea was presented to MedStar corporate, which eventually agreed this message could be an effective reminder system-wide. In early December, the hand-hygiene message went live throughout the system.

    CARRISSA GREENWELL, Food and Nutrition Services

    The following nomination is from a patient on 3NW. It notes an encounter with a Food and Nutrition associate, who is known to incorporate Language of Caring in her daily work.

    “I was impressed by Carrissa Greenwell, due to the overall quality of service she provided. She came in the room with a smile on her face, greeted me by name and introduced herself. She always asked if there was anything she could do before leaving. About an hour later she was back picking up the tray and taking my order for my next meal. She even left her number for me if I had any changes. As hard as she was working, her pleasantries never changed. She really made my day!”

    JESSE JACKSON, Spiritual Care

    Last November, this Spiritual Care associate responded to a trauma code, which turned out to be a young girl who had been shot in the head twice. The patient did not survive. Jesse provided a space in the Chaplain’s office for the care team and the patient's family, some of whom were uncontrollably distraught. Filled with empathy and compassion, Jesse’s practice of presence, which spanned more than five hours consoling more than 50 family members, was quite admirable. He demonstrated our SPIRIT values throughout this tragic situation, and went beyond the call of Chaplain’s duty.

    Thank you, Jesse Jackson, for your service to our patient’s family.


    Sometimes, tracking down a patient’s family can be tricky, especially when the patient is confused, has no ID, doesn’t speak English, and has a traumatic brain injury. But that didn’t stop nurse Hilary Hancock. She exemplified our SPIRIT values of service, patient first, and innovation to find the patient’s cell phone (which was drained), and locate a charger so she could go through his contacts with him. At long last, she located our patient’s sister. Hilary’s patient-first actions actually reduced the patient’s length of stay, and ensured a safe discharge.


    Our new scrubs policy – which prohibits associates wearing green scrubs to leave the building without full-body coverage – has presented at least one opportunity for innovation.

    Associates in the OR quickly saw that the new policy meant the perioperative service assistants couldn’t transport patients outside to their rides home unless they changed into a full OR body gown. The time needed to do this directly affected the workflow.

    This trio of superstars saw the opportunity for adjustment, and presented their idea to leadership. They led a uniform change for the PSAs, medical office assistants and patient and guest services staff in the Main PACU. As outlined by Robert Perez in his justification for the purchase of new uniforms, the change prevents product cross-contamination, promotes department pride and fosters team spirit. Virginia Brown Gray reports “we have received positive feedback from associates.”

    Thank you to all our MWHC SuperStars for your compassion, professionalism and exemplary application of Language of Caring!

    Nominate a SuperStar!

    These are just some of the wonderful stories of our associates who are providing exemplary care to our patients. Do you have others to share? Email them to our Internal Communications.

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  • March 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    This lecture will explore the ethical and regulatory challenges related to the use of social media tools in the recruitment of research participants. Presented by Assya Pascalev, PhD, this lecture will be of interest to IRB members, clinical researchers, study coordinators, medical students, and community members interested in clinical research.

    This event is sponsored by the Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS).

    Dr. Assya Pascalev is Associate Professor at the Department of Philosophy and the Department of Community and Family Medicine at Howard University (HU). She coordinates the Interdisciplinary Bioethics Program at the HU College of Arts and Sciences. She is also Ethics Co-director for REKS - GHUCCTS. She conducts research in the areas of bioethics, the ethics of technology, and research ethics.

    Please register for this event HERE.


    • To identify ethical issues arising from the use of social media to recruit participants for clinical studies
    • To outline specific steps for using social media in recruitment while respecting the privacy and confidentiality of participants and their data.

    March 8, 2017
    1:00 pm
    Howard University Hospital
    4-West Room 100
    2041 Georgia Ave NW #1
    Washington, D.C., 20060

    For questions and further information about this event, email or