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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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  • February 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Patricia Evans, senior financial analyst in the Office of Financial Management, was presented with the SPIRIT of Excellence Award for the 2016 fourth quarter. Joined by fellow associates in the University Town Center office, the award was presented by Neil Weissman, MD, president of MedStar Health Research Institute (MHRI).

    Ms. Evans was nominated for the SPIRIT Award by Jim Reisert, Assistant Vice President of Financial Operations for MHRI. “She helps cultivate a workplace where we work together and help each other in both the big and little things,” said Mr. Reisert. Dr. Weissman also shared how he feels that Ms. Evans showcases the SPIRIT of MedStar, in that her actions reflect the community that MHRI has built.

    In addition to her everyday SPIRIT and pride in her work, Ms. Evans also launched the University Town Center Lunch and Learn programs. “Knowing that she had skills other associates would value,” said Mr. Reisert, “she decided others must have those skills as well.” She is always willing to share her knowledge and work with associates to complete work more effectively and efficiently.

    The SPIRIT Award is given to recognize and reward one associate (management or non-management) each quarter, who excels in Service, Patient First, Integrity, Respect, Innovation, and Teamwork. Nomination submissions for the first quarter of 2017 are due by February 15. Learn more on the SPIRIT StarPort page or contact

  • February 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Congratulations to all researchers who were published in January 2017. The selected work 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 all the authors this month and we look forward to seeing your future research.

    View the full list of publications on here.

     Selected research:

    1. Viruses are prevalent in non-ventilated hospital-acquired pneumonia.
      Respiratory Medicine. DOI: 1016/j.rmed.2016.11.023
      Shorr AF, Zilberberg MD, Micek ST, Kollef MH.
    2. Subspecialty Influence on Scientific Peer Review for an Obstetrics and Gynecology Journal With a High Impact Factor.
      Obstetrics & Gynecology. DOI: 1097/AOG.0000000000001852
      Parikh LI, Benner RS, Riggs TW, Hazen N, Chescheir NC
    3. Induction of Labor in Women with Oligohydramnios: Misoprostol Compared with Prostaglandin E2.
      American Journal of Perinatology. DOI: 1055/s-0036-1585418
      Kawakita T, Grantz KL, Landy HJ, Huang CC, Kominiarek MA
    4. Naloxone Administration for Suspected Opioid Overdose: An Expanded Scope of Practice by a Basic Life Support Collegiate-Based Emergency Medical Services Agency.
      Journal of American College Health. DOI: 1080/07448481.2016.1277730
      Jeffery RM, Dickinson L, Ng ND, DeGeorge LM, Nable JV
    5. Long-Term Outcomes of Permanent Cement Spacers in the Infected Foot.
      Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery. DOI: 10.1053/j.jfas.2016.10.022
      Elmarsafi T, Oliver NG, Steinberg JS, Evans KK, Attinger CE, Kim PJ
  • February 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Abstract submissions for the sixth annual MedStar Health Research Symposium are now being accepted. The MedStar Health Research Symposium brings together associates from across the system to feature research completed throughout the community. All MedStar Health providers, researchers, residents, and fellows are encouraged to submit abstracts for presentation.

    All abstracts must be submitted through the Symposium Abstract Submission Portal: The submission portal closes on Monday, February 13, at midnight. Full submission guidelines are available on the portal. Contact if you have any questions.

    On Monday, May 1, 2017, join researchers, residents, and fellows at the Bethesda North Marriott and Conference Center for the annual Symposium, now expanded to include the first system-wide resident and fellow research exhibits. Learn more at

  • February 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    At the 2016 Center to Advance Palliative Care National Seminar, Christopher Kearney, MD, and Kathryn A. Walker, PharmD, BCPS, CPE, presented two studies and a case series on innovations in palliative care (PC) at MedStar. Researchers from across MedStar have collaborated to create the Palliative Telehealth Connecting Hospital to Home (PATCH2) Program, first pilot tested at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital.

    Kathryn Walker, PharmD

    The “PATCH2 Program, The Creation of a Virtual Palliative Care Clinic” study (by Kathryn Walker, Hunter Groninger, Nicole Graham, Renee M. Holder, Kasey Malotte, Leigh Cervino, Andre D’Souza, and Christopher Kearney) was presented in the category of “Leveraging Technology.” “This project represents collaboration between palliative care, home health, and telehealth to extend PC outside of the hospital to provide continuity of care,” said Dr. Walker. Through a randomized trial, patients with advanced heart failure received PC either via internet-equipped electronic tablets or over the telephone. The results suggested that the PATCH2 program allowed PC teams to effectively extend care for patients after discharge, and the program was associated with decreased hospital readmission rates.

    Christopher Kearney, MD
    Christopher Kearney, MD

    Presented in the category of “Health System Strategies,” the “Field of Dreams: Rapid Expansion of PC in a Health System” poster (by Kathryn Walker and Christopher Kearney) highlighted the impact of the expansion of PC services within MedStar Health. Beginning with three programs, the MedStar PC program has now been expanded to nine hospitals. “PC has contributed to a decrease in readmission rates across MedStar, with 45% [of] all PC consultations resulting in a de-escalation of care and change of goals of care,” said Dr. Walker. Due to the decrease in readmission rates during the two years in which PC was expanded, there was a definable return on investment for MedStar through reimbursement and patient outcomes.

    In addition to the two posters, a case series was presented at the Seminar. In “Case Study of Initial Patients with Left-Ventricular Assist Devices (LVADs) enrolled into Palliative Telehealth Connecting Hospital to Home (PATCH2) Program” (by Renee M. Holder, Andre D’Souza, Nicole Graham, Hunter Groninger, Selma Mohammed, and Kathryn A. Walker), the PATCH2 program and it’s outcomes for patients were highlighted. “Telehealth can provide a link for these patients [that can] provide clinical support without the burden of transportation and energy requirements for in-person clinic visits,” said Andre D'Souza, research intern at MedStar Washington Hospital Center.

    MedStar’s palliative care researchers work collaboratively with physicians, counselors, allied health professionals and spiritual advisors to identify ways to effectively treat chronic illness and increase patients’ quality of life.

  • February 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    The MedStar Health Learning Academy will be hosting the following classes until July 30, 2017. Classes are available to MHRI leaders and associates and are held at multiple locations. Please view the class dates offered and register for the location that best meets your needs by logging on to the SiTEL Learning Management System at

    For more information on these programs, please contact Helene Leclercq-Buchwald at 410-933 3261 or




    Date & Location

    Presentation Advantage

    This one-day workshop will help participants consistently deliver highly successful presentations. They will learn the skills and the latest neuroscience to better inform, influence, and persuade others in today’s knowledge-based world.

    February 13, White Marsh

    March 7, White Marsh

    Peer Today, Boss Tomorrow – Navigating Your Changing Role

    This one-day workshop will help participants to reflect honestly on the mixed feelings involved in moving from peer to boss. The workshop will also help new managers address their evolving relationships with colleagues, explain the role of supervisor, and navigate their changing role by applying four strategies to help make the transition from peer to boss.

    July 26, Arlington

    The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Foundations

    In this one-day workshop, participants learn principles that enable them to achieve greater success. The 7 Habits Foundations program introduces foundational principles, paradigms and practices of the 7 Habits, and is particularly suitable for frontline to mid-level workers. Participants discover how to maximize performance and reach career goals by avoiding both dependence on others, and moving on to where real success lies – being interdependent.

    March 1, White Marsh

    April 4, Arlington

    Project Management Essentials for the Unofficial Project Manager

    This one-day workshop will help participants consistently complete projects successfully. They will learn to implement a disciplined process to execute projects and to master informal authority to inspire the team.

    January 5, Arlington

    March 22, White Marsh

    June 6, MNRN

    Leading at the Speed of Trust

    Trust begins with leaders. This one-day class introduces powerful tools to help leaders improve trust­- the trust people have in them and the trust of their teams.

    May 4, White Marsh

    The 5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity

    This two-day workshop inspires participants to apply a process that will dramatically increase their ability to achieve their highest priorities in the midst of unprecedented distractions.

    This workshop combines timeless principles with current neuroscience research to help better manage decisions, attention, and energy to consistently make choices that give the greatest return on time.

    March 7 & 8, Arlington

    April 5 & 6, White Marsh

    July 19 & 20, White Marsh

  • February 03, 2017

    By MedStar Health

    Research Grand Rounds are sponsored by MHRI and Georgetown-Howard Universities Center for Clinical and Translational Science (GHUCCTS) and bring together the MedStar Health community for a learning experience focusing on a different topic each month.

    Research Grand Rounds are open to all members of the research team, from principal investigators to clinical and research coordinators and trainees. Topics covered in the Research Grand Rounds can range from community-focused research to best practices, with the intention of increasing collaboration within the research community within and outside of MedStar Health.

    Individual Motivation and Threat Indicators of Collaboration Readiness in Scientific Teams

    Presented by Gaetano R. Lotrecchiano, EdD, PhD, Department of Clinical Research and Leadership, George Washington University

    March 3, 2017
    12 Noon to 1 PM – Presentation
    1 PM to 1:30 PM – Lunch
    MedStar Washington Hospital Center, 6th Floor, CTEC Theater
    110 Irving Street, NW, Washington, D.C., 20010

    View the listing of the FY17 Grand Rounds.